Protective sportswear used in training and competition minimises injury and gives an athlete the confidence to kick harder, deflect an attack, protect a goal or generally put their bodies in situations where instinct might suggest otherwise. The diverse nature of different plastics means that weight can be minimised without compromising strength and impact resistance or effectiveness.
In competition a water polo player’s ear drums are particularly vulnerable to impact from competitors or the ball. The Turbo water polo cap (1) incorporates perforated injection moulded polyethylene ear protectors to help minimise this risk. The cap itself is designed to be close fitting to reduce the opportunity for an opponent to grab it. The Turbo swimming goggles (2) exploit the soft flexibility of silicone to provide a comfortable and water resistant protective barrier from the water for the eyes. The polycarbonate lenses have extremely high impact resistance and good optical clarity. The sensation of water going up the nose is at best uncomfortable and distracting and at worst may cause irritation and infection. The Zoggs nose clip (3) helps to prevent these problems. It is fitted with silicone pads to improve comfort when the clip is worn for prolonged periods. Nose clips are mainly used by divers and synchronised swimmers.
This protective equipment worn by archers guards against injury from the use of the bow. The chest guard (4), although lightweight, helps to support the chest when it expands as air is drawn in in preparation for releasing the arrow. It also helps to contain any loose garments and prevent them from touching the arrow or the bow string thus ensuring the flight of the arrow is unimpeded. The polycarbonate arm guard (5) is worn on the underside of the forearm to prevent burns caused by drawing back and releasing the bow string.
The Grays field hockey throat guard (6) is designed to be laced to the helmet and offers essential protection for goalkeepers. It has a rigid, lightweight, impact resistant inner core and is covered with a soft PVC cover.
Contact sports are the most obvious candidates for the use of protective clothing both in training and competition. Taekwondo, the Korean martial art was first added to the Olympic programme at the Sydney games in 2000. Points are scored by landing kicks and punches on the opponents target zones. The dipped foam sparring foot protectors (7) are moulded to fit around the foot to protect the sides and top whilst the strap underneath ensures that the ball of the foot remains in contact with the floor to maintain balanced movement. The lightweight forearm pads (8) are designed to be worn on the outside of the forearm to protect the ulna bone and nerve. They are moulded from shock absorbing EVA with a vinyl covering and are secured to the arm with a Velcro strap. The Wacoku head guard (9) is formed from NBR, a synthetic rubber copolymer. In competition the colour red is known as hong and blue is known as chung.