Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Academic Program

Kinesiology BS


Human Performance and Recreation; Kinesiology

First Advisor

Scott G. Piland, Ph.D. ATC

Third Advisor

Sabine Heinhorst, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Human Performance and Recreation; Kinesiology


The standardization of American football helmets began with the development of the National Operating Committee for Safety in Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE). The organization successfully developed a certification that quantifies a helmet’s ability to mitigate blunt force to prevent skull fractures; however, the ability to assure the same level of protection against concussion has been elusive. Regardless, The National Football League (NFL) and Virginia Tech University (VT) have developed blunt and rotational impact testing methodologies that aim to provide consumers with the effectiveness and safety of American football helmets through their respective ranking system. These ranking systems are intended to aid consumers in making informed purchasing decisions. The defined impact location between the two methodologies, however, differs, thus leading to performance variations across different helmet designs. Where one helmet design may perform better than another depending upon the methodology applied. In this study, a linear pneumatic impacting device was used to strike a Schutt F7 LTD and Xenith Shadow XR helmet. Each helmet was impacted at four NFL and VT designated locations using the specific pose of each methodology. Each location was impacted four times (32 total impacts per helmet) at a velocity just above 7.5 m/s. The results highlighted no statistical differences in performance between the two tested helmets. However, substantial differences were found to exist between impact performances between the two applied methods. This leads to the conclusion that the ranking of helmets is not necessary if helmets display insignificant differences in performance upon insult. Also, the performance of helmets is likely linked to testing methodology and not helmet design.

Keywords: Concussion, Pose, Protective headgear