How to Choose Football Arm Protection

Your arms are constantly exposed on the gridiron. From sleeves to shivers, here’s the gear to look for to help boost your game.

June 13, 2017

It’s important to protect yourself when you’re out on the gridiron. As a football player, you know there’s a lot of protective gear required to play the game, as well as some additional equipment to consider using. This includes arm protection.

Whether you are carrying the ball or playing on the line, your arms can be exposed. To add some extra protection to your upper body, look for arm sleeves, arm shivers and elbow sleeves.


The full arm sleeve has become a common sight on football fields at just about every level and there are several varieties to choose from that have distinct features. These will cover from the players' wrist past their bicep.

Most arm sleeves feature compression technology and are made of a blend of spandex and nylon.

These sleeves may not necessarily offer the utmost protection, but they can help reduce abrasions and scratches during a game. And anyone on the field can wear compression.

Some arm sleeves are designed with padding to cover the elbow or lower arm in order to help absorb some of the shock from hits players may face. These padded arm sleeves are popular with quarterbacks, receivers, running backs and other players who experience a lot of collisions on the field.

When it comes to fabrics, many are lightweight to keep you cool in the heat of battle on the field. And don’t worry about unwanted moisture – these sleeves are designed to keep you dry as well.


These are similar to the full arm sleeve but cover less of the arm. Some will cover just the forearm while others extend from the wrist up to the bicep. Choosing between an arm sleeve and shiver often comes down to personal preference.

While some are made with compression technology that helps protect against abrasions, there are arm shivers designed with added safety in mind. Such shivers offer a layer of padding along the forearm that offers benefits to players like running backs who deal with defenders swatting at the ball. The longer varieties often feature padding from the forearm to the elbow, aiding in lessening the blows players experience on the field.


Padded elbow sleeves – which extend from your forearm to above your elbow – help absorb some of the shock from impact while also allowing for full mobility during play. Many designs are made to conform to and move with your body for a personalized fit and are popular with positions like running backs and fullbacks.

“These are designed with controlling the football in mind,” said DICK'S Sporting Goods Associate Joey Lancianese. “They are worn by anyone running through a tight gap where you tuck the ball and people try to swat it or rip it away. Sometimes you might see a defensive lineman or linebacker wear them.”

Elbow pads are another option, though they have become less common with the rise of other technology.

“They once had more of a presence,” Lancianese said. “But with the way technology in apparel and accessories has gone, everyone is looking at the lighter, faster items. They are still around for the hard-nosed players like fullbacks or defensive linemen. But skill positions like receivers, defensive backs and running backs typically go for the faster, more swag material.”


It’s important that your arm protection fits properly. It should be snug, but not overly tight. Specific sizing may vary by brand, but use the following measuring steps as a guide to help find the right size for you:

  • Arm sleeves: Measure the length of your arm, the circumference of your bicep and the circumference of your forearm/upper wrist.
  • Arm shivers: Measure the circumference of your forearm. If it extends above your elbow, also measure the circumference of your bicep.
  • Elbow sleeves: Measure the circumference of your elbow.

With the proper safety equipment, you’ll be equipped to help play your best. Now get out there and get ready to make that game-changing play.