Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering

First Advisor

Richard T. Stone


The objective of this research was to determine if the use of helmet and shoulder pads had an impact on overall tackling form, perceived likelihood of getting hurt or injured, and pain levels throughout the body contact sport athletes (American football and rugby). Relationships between overall tackling form and concussion likelihood will be tested to determine whether or not the utilization of football helmets and shoulder pads have an effect on concussion rates.

Using a qualitative design, 18 male rugby players (18-35 years of age) were used as subjects for tackling drills where overall tackling form was analyzed. Surveys determining perceived likelihood of getting hurt or injured, and pain levels, were administered before and after each set of drills respectively. Content analysis was conducted to determine whether the use of helmets and shoulder pads impacted overall tackling form, perceived likelihood of getting hurt or injured, and pain.

There was a significant difference in the scores for overall tackling form for pads (M=5.001, SD=1.099) and without pads (M=2.516, SD=0.433) conditions; t(17) =6.314, p=.0001. Specifically, the results suggest that when an athlete wears padding, their overall tackling form decreases. With regards to mindset, there was not statistical significance in the participants' perceived likelihood on getting hurt or injured and their tackling form. A Spearman Rank Test determined there was a positive correlation (.754 and .708) in head pain experienced in both the padded/non-padded tackles respectively meaning that for both padded/non-padded tackles, as form decreased, pain experienced in the head increased.

This study provides an insight into the negative relationship between the use of shoulder pads and helmets, overall tackling form, and pain experienced in participants' heads for contact sport athletes. It is suggested that removing some protective equipment may improve average tackling form and thus, concussion rates. However, further research needs to be conducted to determine if, what, and how much padding to remove.


Rugby; Football; Concussion; Tackling Form; Safety Perception; Injury Research


Copyright Owner

Morgan Leigh Hampel



File Format


File Size

30 pages