Making the world's best chest protector: Research, testing, and continual improvement
The process and technology behind QP Sport
QP Sport’s gear is the go-to for athletes in a number of codes. We have a reputation for high-tech, quality equipment that offers a high standard of protection during contact sports.
And there’s a good reason for that reputation. Ever since our inception in 1978, we have focused on developing the best possible protective gear, using the best materials and technology available.
In 1978 that meant baking polymer clay in the oven – hardly high tech. Now, it means working with universities, researching biomechanics, feedback from real athletes, and thorough, extensive testing. It all adds up to gear that athletes really trust.
It all starts with research
Because our products are designed to protect the body, we have to understand how it works and reacts during contact sports. Sports science and biomechanics have been the subject of extensive study over the past 30 years, and we have been involved in a number of areas.
For example, QP Sport ran a world-first research project into the impact of karate strikes and kicks, to help us develop appropriate protection for the sport.
We’re also involved with research into biomechanics (or how the body moves) at University of Portsmouth. This research has helped us understand how the breasts, in particular, respond to movement and force.
The results have helped us develop some of our most popular products, including the MaxiGuard and CoolGuard breast protectors, as well as informing new product development. These products both include a sports bra component to control breast movement, and make participating in sport more comfortable for women.
But research isn’t just about academics – it also involves talking to the people who use our gear. We seek feedback and input from sports federations and athletes to help make sure our products work for real people in real competitions.
Thoughtful design, high-tech testing
Our research and engagement with sports people informs our design process. We’ve always been innovative designers, and we’re always adding new design features to existing products as technology changes.
The design process involves an in-depth look at the needs and wants of athletes in a range of sports. How much protection do they need? How much movement is involved? How hot and sweaty do they get? What do athletes wear over their protective gear?
We also look at the technical requirements for a given code. All our products meet the relevant European (CE) standards for protective equipment, which means they can withstand specific forces involved in contact sports.
Finally, we test – and this is often the longest part of the development process. Testing is done at our New Zealand research lab, or at Sheffield-Hallam University in the UK. It can involve anything from ultra high-speed video to a specially designed cannon that mimics the impact of karate strikes – and makes for a pretty exciting day in the lab.
We also test the products on athletes in competition conditions, to make sure that the weight and fit of the product is comfortable, breathes, and doesn’t hinder movement during sport.
Technology is not static. Research into sports science and biomechanics is ongoing – new materials and methodologies are always being developed, and athletes are always in need of better, lighter, stronger products.
At QP Sport, keeping up with developments in the world of sports protection is part of our job. We’re almost always in the process of researching, designing, and developing new products, or refining our existing ones. One example is the protective sports bra – we have one in development that offers more support and better control than any already on the market. This design is now tested and patented, and will be used as the basis for a new range of equipment. Watch this space!
It’s all part of our commitment to our customers. We want to offer the best, most cutting-edge protective products, to help people participate in sports safely and comfortably. And we can’t do that by simply sitting back and selling our existing range – we need to make sure we’re always at the forefront of new protection tech.
Want to try our high-tech protective gear? Check out our range here.