So you're training for quite some time now and it's time to get into some sparring sessions. It's time to get a mouthpiece and a headgear. after all, it's your face and your brain we're talking about, and you probably want to take care of them as much as you can. People often thinks that the fact they have they beautiful Sparring gloves alone makes them true fighters. Actually, the gear that truly marks the pros is headgear because anyone whose advanced enough to get into sparring knows how important is A. to wear headgear and B. to wear a good one.
We took the time and put out this useful guide to help you choose the right headgear for you. It's very important to start thinking about it from the very beginning. They are many documents and studies show that impact sports involving shots to the head may cost serious brain damage for the long run. In this article we're going to go through all the different types of headgear, all the factors you need to consider before choosing the right one, pricing & materials, sizing and measurement, and some other useful tips.
The first thing you need to understand is the difference between the four types of headgear: Traditional training headgear (open face headgear), Full face training headgear, No-Contact headgear and competition headgear.
The main characteristic of this headgear is that it has no chin protection, it might come with or without cheeks protection and this type is great for more advanced guys who knows how to defend themselves in a ring. the open face headgear provides the best vision of the environment and the opponent. It's also the lightest headgear between them all. It's also great for amateur boxing training because you don't have to take knees and kicks to the head (not recommended for beginners in MMA, Muay Thai or Kickboxing) others might say it's actually the other way around and you better take traditional training headgear for muay thai and kickboxing to be able to see the kicks and knees coming. The best way to decide is just to ask your coach.
Ringside Traditional Boxing Headgear
UFC Pro Open-Face Training Headgear
This is the most common headgear around, it's great for beginners intermediates and pros. It's good for any general sparring purpose. It comes with cheek, chin and jaw protection. One of the most important things you want to make sure in full-face training headgear is that the cheek protection is bent inwards and have some pressure against your cheek, that way your vision won't be compromised and you'll be able to see uppercuts, knees, and kicks on time.
Example For Full-Face Headgear:
Fairtex Sparring Headgear
This type of headgear may come in one of two ways, it's either going to be an actual cage covering the face or there is going to be a big bar protecting the nose and jaw. No-Contact headgear provides the best protection to your face but it usually comes at a price of limited visibility. It's highly recommended for people that spar mostly for fitness reasons more than actual competition purposes.
Example For No-Contact Headgear with jaw bar:
Competition headgear is basically an open face headgear with/without cheek protection (depend on the division you're fighting in) that is allowed to be used in official competitions. The easiest way to recognize it is by the: "OFFICIAL ACCORDING TO HEADGEAR U.S.A BOXING SPECIFICATIONS" badge on the back of the headgear. Of course, you better check with your association that your headgear is matching the specifications.
Example Of Competition Headgear:
Fighting Sports USA Boxing Competition Open Headgear
Here is an Example of the Official Badge:
How To Find The Best Headgear?
Now that you know all the different types of headgear you probably know what type to get, but the selection is still pretty wide. Here are three factors to take in mind while choosing your headgear:
headgear should be tight around your head and not be able to move. For the perfect fit, it should have fasteners at the back of the head, at the top of the head and below the chin, no matter if it fastened by velcro straps or laces.
Your headgear should feel snug but not too tight, basically, it shouldn't move if you shake your head as hard as you can(or getting punched in the face for that matter). In perfectly adjustable headgear the forehead part of your headgear should end right above your eyebrows.
Also, if you have the tendency to sweat a lot, you better look for sweat wicking padding, otherwise your headgear is going to slip away during sparring and block your vision.
There is an ongoing debate between better protection to better vision. In this case, it's up to personal preference and you should use whatever makes you feel more protected and comfortable. Some fighters (usually the more advanced) feel more protected trusting their eyes and instincts and some feel safer with cheek and jaw protection.
Make sure that the headgear you use don't become your enemy and stand in your way instead of being your secondary line of defense. If you have cheek protection, make sure that it's bent towards your cheek and not blocking your sight. If you use no-contact headgear make sure that the cage or jaw bar aren't blocking the view too much. After all, you can't get away from a punch you can't see.
You also want to make sure that your forehead protection is just above the eyebrow, anything lower than that will block your visibility against taller opponents.
3. Weight & Size
One thing you might haven't think about is the size and weight of your headgear. You might ask yourself why is it so important. Well, the thing is that your headgear will make your head a bigger target, and some punches that might have missed you without your headgear are now going to have a serious impact. So, the smallest your headgear the better in that term.
About the weight, after long, tiring workout your muscles are going to move a lot slower, so the heavier your headgear is you might get more protection but you're also going to get slower, and that means getting more blows.
Basically, you need the lightest, smallest yet protective headgear.
Headgear Sizing & Measurement
Each brand provides different sizing by measuring different Criteria. Some determine the correct size by measuring the head circumference, some by the weight of the user or even the user's height. I wouldn't trust all of those "general hedgear sizing" tables all over the web, you might buy the wrong size.
Luckily for you, each headgear on our website have i'ts own unique size chart brought to us directly from the manufacturers, and you can watch it by clicking on the "+SIZE CHART" button right next to the available sizes.
Just in case you can't find your right size, here is a general sizing chart that covers most headgear, but again, use it as a secondary option only, the size charts on the product pages are much more accurate.
|Standard Sizing||Head Circumference (Inches)|
Headgear Pricing & Materials
Headgear can go anywhere between $40 for the simplest piece of equipment and up to around $180 for the most luxurious model by top rated brands. The materials are usually leather or a synthetic one. The padding is usually made of striking foam or gel.
As a general guideline and especially with headgear, we don't recommend to go for the cheapest headgear out there. The price for a certain headgear usually correlates with the quality. You can't really put a price on your health but you better get your gear from a brand you trust. Don't take any chances with your head. the consequences might be devastating for the long run.
How To Clean Your Headgear
Now that you got your headgear you might ask yourself what's the best way to clean it. You will sweat a lot inside your headgear and the smell will start stacking up. The best way to avoid that is to wipe it up after every use with a moist cloth and mild soap and let it dry. Few sprays of Fabreez might help with the smell as well.
Avoid leaving your headgear in your duffel bag after training and avoid get it in a washing machine. Also, it is not recommended to leave it out in the sun, it'll weaken the materials and your headgear lifetime will be shorter. Instead, leave it in a shaded cool place to dry off.
This is everything you need to know about headgear and how to choose your own. Feel free to visit our Headgear Collection and if you have any more questions just ask in the comment section below and we'll make sure to answer each and every one of you.