Although 97.5 percent of players wore helmets that require regular, weekly reinflation, nearly 90 percent of them failed to maintain their bladders on a weekly basis, according to a recent study of over 250 high school players in the Intermountain West Region conducted by Idaho State University. More troubling still, the study found over 40 percent of participants didn’t rein ate their bladders at all during the entire football season.
In today’s hyper-sensitive player-safety culture, it’s shocking that programs have not taken steps to ensure every player has a properly fit helmet at all times. Part of the reason for this oversight is the time-consuming process of checking each helmet’s fit and inflating the bladder with archaic hand-operated air pumps.
Enter HelmetFit — the hand-held, automatic air pump that quickly and accurately inflates the bladder in a player’s helmet with the push of a button. Utilizing smartphone technology and an intuitive, convenient app, HelmetFit saves coaches and equipment managers the headache of inflating each player’s helmet by hand while the player is wearing it.
Coaches have the players wear the helmet for their initial fitting, and the application then stores the data for each player’s ideal fit for quick, accurate reinflation.
“It really eliminates the guessing games for the coaches, the trainers and the equipment guys,” Head Football Coach of Vista Murrieta High School (Ca.) Gene Miranda says. “For me, not only as a coach and an equipment guy, but as a parent that’s the key. ‘What can I do to make sure that my son and my players are properly fitted?”
While it remains unclear if there will ever be a permanent solution for the concussion riddle, coaches like Miranda can rest easier knowing they have done everything in their power to at the very least mitigate the risks of head trauma.
In the current football culture, the players are ultimately responsible for ensuring the proper fit of their helmet — a dangerous practice for anything regarding a young person’s safety, especially when they are focused on the desire to stay on the field at all costs.
This added layer of safety has captured the attention of some of the game’s most elite programs. Ohio State University has signed on for the 2018 season, as well as the San Francisco 49ers.
The founder of HelmetFit, Michael Weatherby, had his own struggles with concussions during his playing days, and was confused as to why no one had taken steps to make sure the responsibility for properly fitted helmets wasn’t up to the individual players.
“I always thought the whole process was backwards, and there has to be an easier way of doing this,” Weatherby says. With HelmetFit, we put the power back into the hands of the people who should be making these decisions.”
HelmetFit gives coaches and trainers an easy, objective means of keeping players safe, without relying on a player’s subjective opinion. But, it also provides a competitive advantage by keeping players in the game, even when they need a quick adjustment.
“I don’t have the time or the manpower to go around and check their helmets while they are on their heads,” Head Athletic Trainer for North Shore High School (N.Y.) Mike Gonzalez says. “This allows me to do it when they aren’t around, and it also takes their bias out of the picture.
“Once you get over that initial fit it really does reduce your time. When a player comes up to you during a game or during practice, you literally just have them take a knee, you find their name, and you let the pump do the rest.”
After the initial legwork of establishing each player’s baseline, HelmetFit gives a staff the unprecedented advantage of being able to rein ate every helmet in the locker room without requiring the players to get involved. Every helmet can be checked and re fit with ease and accuracy, and bladders which have been punctured are easily identified.
All these advantages are combined with the peace of mind of having a log of every adjustment made for every player over the season. With the ability to generate formal fit history reports, HelmetFit also serves as a valuable risk management tool, begging the question: Why wasn’t this technology implemented years ago?
“I’ve been in this industry over 35 years, and I think this is something that’s long overdue,” former President & COO of Riddell and former Director of Product Development for Schutt Sports, J.C. Wingo says. “It’s a product that should be in every locker room.”
Coaches spend countless dollars on the very best helmet technology available every single year, yet many don’t take the time to make sure their players always have the proper fit. With HelmetFit, every coach can have confidence their players are being protected by the equipment they rely on the most.
“It’s extremely important to get the proper fit, and not only get the proper fit — but maintain it,” Wingo says. “All athletes at every level want to make adjustments as necessary in order to perform better. It puts the player at ease knowing they have the right amount of air in their helmet.”