Soccer Shin Guards
Protecting your legs and ankles couldn’t be more important for a soccer player. To stay safe while practicing and playing, most players use shin guards. Coming in a variety of styles, sizes, and price points, learning what you need to know about shin guards can seem daunting. Fear not; we will cover all of this and more below.
Benefits of Soccer Shin Guards
In a contact sport as physical as soccer, it’s no surprise that there is some required padding that players must wear to play the game. Given how reliant soccer players are on their legs and ankles, shin guards are an understandable necessity of the sport. In fact, shin guards are the only compulsory item for players in FIFA laws that act solely as protective equipment for athletes. FIFA, as the international organization that establishes and enforces all of the rules of soccer, has deemed shin guards so important that players cannot participate in the sport without them.
Shin guards are pads that cover a player’s shin bones or the front of their legs, and sometimes even their ankles. These pads are meant to protect an athlete’s lower legs from injury. Shin guards are covered by socks or sleeves, so they may be hard to spot at times but know that everyone, from beginners to professionals, wears shin guards.
Things To Consider
When looking for soccer shin guards, you'll want to consider the following:
- Are shin guards required for playing at your level?
- What size shin guard is most comfortable for you?
- How much protection do you want from your shin guards?
- How much are you looking to spend on shin guards?
What are you looking for in soccer shin guards?
- Maximum protection
- One-piece design
- Guards to tuck under soccer socks
- Easy to put on and remove
- Tight fit
While the rules of professional soccer state that shin guards must be worn, they do not state what kind. Three of the main types of shin guards worn by players are ankle protecting, slip-in, and shin socks.
The main distinction between ankle shin guards and any other type of shin guard is that they include a stirrup style design that secures beneath the heel of the foot. This stirrup has padding on the sides of the ankle and attaches to the rest of the shin guard, covering most of the lower leg. Beginners usually prefer this type of guard because it offers so much protection.
- Offers ankle protection
- Ankle protection may be removable
- Can be bulky
- Can restrict movement
- Less comfortable
Slip-in shin guards do not have any sort of ankle protection. They may have straps or an elastic material that wraps around the back of the calf to keep the pads in place. This type of shin guard only covers the shins and, like ankle guards, must be covered by socks or sleeves in most cases. More experienced players typically opt for these because they’re not as restrictive as ankle guards.
- Allows for more mobility
- Easy to put on and take off
- Larger variety than the other types of guards
- May move around beneath sock or sleeve
- Less coverage area
Of the shin guards discussed here, shin socks are the most unique option. The pads are built into the socks so the need for shin sleeves or an additional pair of socks is eliminated. Shin socks are most commonly used by beginner players, as they are a simple and convenient option. Players do not need to worry about having multiple pieces of equipment to keep track of, as the shin guards and socks are combined.
- Convenient design
- Only need to purchase one piece of equipment
- The pads may not be removable
- Can be less durable
- Some consider them uncomfortable
For all of the different types of shin guards, there are even more brands that sell them. Below are a few of the ones to know about.
Ankle, slip-in, and sock shin guards are all sold by Adidas. They come in youth and adult sizes, ranging from $12 to $20. The guards have a hard shield on the outside and a softer, molded foam on the inside for comfort. There is also an adjustable strap around the top to make the shin guard fit the calf.
Nike offers every type of shin guard. In addition to having guards with hard shells and inner foam, they also have perforated guards that are leg-specific. This makes them breathable and comfortable for each leg. Shin guards on the Nike website run from $10-$30.
Puma has ankle guards and slip-in shin guards but may not be the best destination for shin socks. Their shin guards boast excellent shock absorption while remaining lightweight and durable. Puma shin guards come in youth and adult sizes, with prices going up to $60.
Durability, cost, and sizes are all factors that should be considered when it comes to shin guards.
Since shin guards are worn very frequently, they may need to be replaced somewhat often depending on how they are cared for. It’s best to hand wash them to reduce the chance of them being damaged in a washing machine; however, given that the guards are meant for protection, it is best to replace them whenever the padding is worn or the guards no longer fit snugly.
Shin guards usually cost between $10 and $25, but this varies depending on the brand. Collections with famous soccer players will likely cost more because of the name value associated. In most cases, the different types of guards are around the same price, so you can expect to pay no more than $30 for a good pair of shin guards.
Shin guards come in a range of sizes. Anything from small to extra large can usually be found in both youth and adult sizes. They should fit snugly and cover the leg from the ankle to about two inches below the knee, ensuring protection while still allowing for movement.
Are certain types of shin guards better for different positions?
Yes and, the more advanced a player is, the better it may be to wear a shin guard that is tailored to their position. Defenders need a lot of protection and so may benefit the most from wearing an ankle guard. Midfielders also need protection, but this is tempered by their desire for flexibility, leaving slip-in shin guards as the best option. Forwards need to be able to move quickly, so slip ins or shin socks are ideal. Goalkeepers typically don’t need much protection, so any shin guard with minimal padding, like shin socks, would work.
Are soccer players required to wear shin guards?
Yes, soccer players are required to wear shin guards. This is mainly to protect players from injury, whether it be from impact with the ball or other players. Fouls and collisions can seriously injure an athlete’s lower leg and/or ankle which is where contact is most likely to occur. That’s why it’s important to find the shin guard that is best for your level of skill and position.
How do you know what size shin guard to get?
Shin guards are often sized according to height. This means that the height of the player determines what size shin guard they should get. Ideally, the shin guard should cover most of the lower leg but stop a couple of inches below the knee. It should also be snug but not so tight that it’s uncomfortable. Keep in mind that shin guards are usually covered by socks or sleeves, so they will need to fit underneath another piece of equipment.