Neck Rolls and Stabilizers

Roll with the punches

Neck Rolls

Because a football player's head is often snapped back during straight-ahead contact you need to use a contoured neck roll to keep it from causing injury. This piece of equipment is designed to protect the head and neck from whiplash, which is what happens if your head is pushed too far backward. It's basically a thick, padded foam roll that fits around the back part of the jersey's neckline. Neck rolls are generally made out of vinyl or nylon. The neck roll attaches to the back of the shoulder pads and it also provides your collar bones with some much-needed protection. If you still don't think you've got enough padding you can also wear a back plate for added protection in the back along with a sternum plate.

Anybody can, and perhaps should, wear a neck roll, but they're worn primarily by linebackers and defensive linemen. A good neck roll should be lightweight and durable as you don't want a heavy and cumbersome piece of equipment around your neck weighing it down. It also needs to be breathable because if it isn't then it's going to be hot, sweaty and uncomfortable. You can get round neck rolls and flat neck rolls – which kind you wear is just personal preference. They also come in various levels of thickness.

Cowboy Collars

Many players wear a lightweight piece of equipment made by McDavid called a Cowboy Collar, which is an advanced neck roll system that combines a molded foam collar and a padded vest into one item. When worn underneath regular shoulder pads, the Cowboy Collar helps to absorb shock by engaging the sides and back of your helmet, instead of the bottom of the helmet like traditional neck rolls. This is designed to reduce restriction and create a cantilever effect rather than a fulcrum effect that's created by some neck rolls.


There's a product on the market called a Heads Up Stabilizer, which is piece of equipment or training gear that's designed to help teach young football players to keep their heads up at all times during practices and games. A stabilizer is adjustable to fit all players and can be worn with most neck rolls. A stabilizer is designed to enable your head full range of motion from side to side and backwards.

A good stabilizer should limit your head from moving forwards, allowing your head and chin to stay up. This is important because if you lower your head then the risk for head, neck and spinal injuries is definitely a lot greater. A stabilizer is also designed to help prevent your helmet from moving on impact. A stabilizer should be able to be secured to your helmet and shoulder pads quickly and easily with fasteners.