Why do football players wear helmet visors?
Football visors first appeared in the 1980s as a way to protect players with injured eyes. Today, many players from youth to professional choose to wear them out a preference and because of their preventive benefits. Here are 5 Pros and 5 Cons on why football players choose to wear or not to wear visors on the field.
5 Reasons to wear a visor
1) Protects the eyes from contact.
The primary function of a football visor is protection. While some players wear visors temporarily to prevent damage to an existing injury, other players wear them permanently to prevent new injuries. A football visor protects the player's eyes from getting stricken by fingers or feet when colliding with other players. These eye shields also prevent dirt and grass from accumulating in the player's eyes after falling to the ground.
2) Prevents being able to grab the facemask
Because visors are attached to the helmet's facemask, the openings on the facemask are reduced which block a defenseman's fingers from grabbing onto and bringing the player down. This provides an extra layer of protection to running backs, quarterbacks, and wide receivers when they're holding off the ball from an offensive side.
3) Increases Confidence
Having fear set aside can elevate performance. In fact, reducing the chances of getting ripped down by the facemask or getting pocked in the eye can give a player the extra confidence and mental courage to elevate his game. Player safety is an important aspect for all players, which makes wearing unique protection equipment like visors encouraged on the field.
4) Look Good. Feel Good. Play Good
Chances are, you've heard it before. In the world of sports psychology, the “look good, play good” idea boils down to two terms: unclothed cognition and self-efficacy. If you look good, you'll play good. Whether sporting a new pair of cleats, a new mouth guard or throwing on a clean new jersey, it's an accepted truth in sports that performance automatically improves when looking good. In football, one of the best ways is adding a dark or colored visor. A visor makes an athlete stand out from the rest and boosts confidence to play better and harder.
5) Intimidation Factor
When facing-off an opponent, wearing a tinted visor makes it difficult to see the eyes. By hiding the eyes, the opponent can't tell where the other player is looking which will cause doubt and uncertainty in his game. The game is won before you start playing and reducing the opponent’s confidence is one of the most important mental factors that can be taken advantage of. As the opponent stares into the player wearing a visor and can't see his eyes, they may feel uncertain and think they're going up against something bigger and better than themselves.
5 Reasons NOT to wear a visor
While there are multiple reasons to wear a visor for football, there are some less positive aspects to understand.
1) Distortion Factor
A distorted field of view is one issue that some players experience when wearing a face shield. Because most visors are made in a 2D shape, your field of view can be slightly deformed from normal. This distortion can significantly reduce a player’s vision which is why Oakley developed a unique visor featuring a 3D shape.
2) Reduced Air Flow
Because an eye shield covers the openings on the upper part of the facemask, there is less oxygen than get enter the player mouth. In fact, the only remaining opening for air flow is directly in front of the mouth. When playing in hot summer heat, having less air intake can make an athlete fatigue more quickly reducing performance.
3) Accumulates Scratches
Visor can get scratched up easily. In fact, to remedy the situation most NFL players are seen wearing multiple visors during one game. Football is a high contact sport and because visors are installed on the helmet, they are continuously in contact with other hard pieces of equipment which makes scratches inevitable. Playing with scratches on a visor can quickly become distracting. We recommend having an extra visor in case your current one becomes too damaged during a game.
4) Hard to see when raining
When playing in the snow or rain, the last thing you want is even more reduced visibility. Wearing a football visor in cold and wet conditions is not optimal as it makes it even more challenging to see clearly. For this reason, we do not recommend wearing a visor in these conditions, nor do we recommend wiping it down between plays. In this case, it is best to remove the visor and play without the eyeshield.
5) Fog that reduces visibility
During the fall season, when playing in colder weather, visors tend to accumulate fog easily. This fog is due to the difference of temperature between the exterior and interior surfaces of the visor. In fact, because cold air cools the exterior surface and the athlete's breath warms the interior surface, the interior surface of the visor builds up condensation which can reduce visibility and create safety issues.
Before purchasing a visor, we recommend making sure it has an anti-fog coating preventing or reducing condensation build-up.
Can you wear visors in the NFL?
It's no secret that a good number of NFL athletes wear visors. The NFL has rules on what type of visors may be worn. In all case, the visor type must be approved by the NFL committee before a player can use it. If the rules and violated and the player is caught wearing it, the player is reprimanded with a fine. However, in high school and college the rules are slightly different. Although most leagues allow their use, some teams do not allow them unless the player has a medical need for one. We recommend your ask your coach or team for clearance before ordering your eye shield.
What visor do NFL players use?
The NFL has officially partnered with the eyewear company called Oakley. Oakley is known in the lens industry as being a leader when it comes to optics and quality of vision. While there are some downsides to wearing visors in a game, Oakley continues to research and development new visors season after season to reduce issues that players notice and produce the best possible football visor.