Protect against injury: Wear the right gear

Don’t put your body on the line for sport when protective equipment can save you from injury.

Close-up of cricket equipment

Protective equipment is there to protect players from injury and should be used whenever possible. In most competitive sports, the days of simply pulling on a t-shirt, grabbing a ball and heading out the door to play a game are long gone. Now preventing injury is paramount, which means that you need to wear the right gear.

Types of protective equipment can include:


  • Mouthguards reduce cuts to the lip, mouth and tongue, protect teeth and help to prevent jaw injuries.
  • Always wear mouthguards in activities with a risk of collision or body contact.


  • Hard helmets help to protect the brain from injury in an impact. Soft headgear such as that worn when playing rugby can help to prevent serious cuts to the scalp and ears.
  • Make sure headgear is approved and appropriate to the sport.
  • Headgear must be fitted properly and securely to prevent serious cuts to the scalp and ears.
  • Hard helmets must be secure to reduce the risk of concussion and skull fractures.
  • Wear hard helmets and face guards in sports involving small, hard balls travelling at high speeds (eg. hockey, cricket, lacrosse).

Bracing and Taping

  • Bracing and taping can provide some protection against injury to the joints.
  • Don’t use braces and taping to allow an injured player to play while injured.
  • If possible, use braces rather than tape, as the effective support provided by taping is generally reduced after 20 minutes of play.
  • Braces are reusable, adjustable, and can provide continuous support.

Footwear and Eyewear

  • Good footwear provides protection from impact and support for the foot and ankle.
  • Make sure footwear fits well to provide support, has enough cushioning for absorbing impacts, has a good sole for traction on the surface, and complies with the guidelines of the game.
  • Protective eyewear reduces the impact of fast-moving objects such as balls and racquets.

And if you find yourself overwhelmed by the huge range of sports shoes available in your average sports supplier these days, you can read more about the different types and which might be suitable for you, here.


  • Padding absorbs impact, minimising the effect of the impact on the player’s body and reducing the risk of injury.
  • Always use high-density foam padding around goal posts or other areas of high risk.
  • Use padding on areas of the body that are likely to have contact with other players or equipment. Ensure the padding conforms to the guidelines of the sport.
  • Use protective equipment appropriate to the player’s gender, for example chest protection for women in contact sports such as rugby, or “boxes” for men in sports such as cricket.
Football shin guards. If you want to protect against injury, you must wear the right gear.

When buying protective equipment

  • Buy sport-approved protective equipment.
  • Replace worn-out, damaged or defective equipment.
  • Don’t alter the equipment, as it will reduce it’s effectiveness.
  • Avoid sharing protective equipment between players of different sizes.
  • Make sure the equipment complies with the guidelines of the sport.
  • Make sure equipment isn’t a risk to other players.
  • Get your protective equipment fitted properly. This is especially true of items like mouthguards where people’s mout sizes and teeth can vary enormously.

Smartplay’s Gear Up brochure is a useful guide to protective equipment for community sport. The brochure is available to download from the Resources/General Sport Safety section of the website, or in hard copy by contacting 03 9674 8777.

And if you wear the right gear, but still end up with an injury – which unfortunately may still happen – how you deal with that injury within the first 48-7 hours is vital. If you’d like some advice on what you should do, you can read more here.