Volleyball Knee Pads
Volleyball is typically played on a hard surface where players are often forced to dive and slide. Volleyball knee pads help protect one of the most vulnerable body parts from repeated physical contact with the ground. These knee pads are arguably the most important piece of protective gear in the sport of volleyball.
What are knee pads used for?
The knees are one of the most vulnerable parts of the body, and injuries to the knee are often serious and require an extended recovery period. Players in volleyball often have to dive or slide to keep the ball in the air, and these dives can result in some dangerous positions. Knee pads provide protection from these high speed impacts by having thick built-in pads. These pads also serve as compression sleeves that help support ligaments and muscles around the knee, offering injury protection in multiple ways. A study in 2005 showed that there was a 56% percent decrease in knee injuries when athletes wore knee pads, which is proof that knee pads are instrumental in protecting the knees.
Since volleyball is a non-contact sport the biggest source of injury is going to come from a players' own behavior, whether that is in the form of ligament tears or a bruised patella. These knee pads actually tend to inspire better play amongst players, as it gives them more confidence to play with a lower risk of injury. Knee pads can have a far bigger impact on the court than just preventing injury.
Things To Consider
When looking for volleyball knee pads, you'll want to consider the following:
- What are you going to use the knee pads for?
- What position do you play?
- Have you suffered a knee injury?
- How much money do you have to spend on knee pads?
- Are you playing indoors or outdoors?
- How much of your knee do you want to cover?
- Do you have a favorite brand or color?
Like most pieces of equipment, volleyball knee pads come in different styles, so let's look at the three different types of volleyball knee pads.
Short Knee Pads
Short knee pads are a smaller knee pad that covers only the kneecap and a small area surrounding it. These knee pads allow for protection of the knee, while allowing for a wider range of motion. The lack of a surrounding sleeve makes it easier for the knee and muscles around the knee to move. This sleeve offers greater mobility, but less support for the ligaments surrounding the knee.
Mid-Sized Knee Pads
Mid-sized knee pads are longer than short knee pads, which means that both the pad and sleeve are longer. The lengthened pad allows for greater coverage of the knee, and the extended sleeve allows for increased support for ligaments. The larger pad is also more durable, which allows more of the knee to stay protected for longer.
Long Knee Pads
Long knee pads are the largest style of knee pads that you can purchase. These knee pads have a large pad, but their distinguishing factor is having an extended sleeve. The long sleeve provides more support and compression to the ligaments, but it also provides a greater hindrance to mobility. These pads can be used for other sports, as they provide so much additional protection compared to smaller pads.
Volleyball knee pads can be made out of different materials that can affect the strength, durability, and price point of the pads.
- Polyester: Polyester is a plastic that is light, durable, and one of the most commonly used materials in the world. This makes it ideal for volleyball knee pads as it is protective, comfortable, and relatively cheap.
- Polyurethane: Polyurethane is a tough, flexible material that makes it perfect for the protection of body parts, while also being a low cost material. It handles extreme pressure and impacts better than many other materials, while also being relatively light.
- Neoprene: Neoprene is a synthetically produced rubber that is commonly used in knee pads. The production of neoprene results in toxic gases, which make the material more difficult to produce and more expensive.
There are a number of different brands that produce volleyball knee pads, so we're going to take a look at three of the largest producers in Mizuno, Asics, and Nike.
- Mizuno: Mizuno produces knee pads that are typically on the lighter side in terms of padding. These light weight pads protect the knee, while still allowing for a wide range of motion. They tend to mold quickly and are some of the more affordable knee pads on the market.
- Asics: Asics is a premier volleyball brand, so it's no surprise that they produce some of the highest quality knee pads on the market. These knee pads tend to be tighter than most, so if mobility is your primary focus it might be best to look another direction.
- Nike: Nike produces some of the lightest knee pads on the market, but that lack of protection lends itself to a wide range of mobility and a cooler body temperature. They produce a variety of products for beginners and experienced players, which means they have a wide price range for their products.
Before purchasing your own pair of knee pads there are some things that you should take into consideration including the durability, cost, size, and comfort.
Knee pads last a varying amount of time, depending on the frequency of use, thickness of the pad and the brand. Like any piece of equipment, the more often that knee pads get used the quicker that they are going to wear out. Knee pads should typically last about a full season. Thicker knee pads are going to take longer to wear out, while thinner knee pads have less to wear down, and certain brands naturally produce thinner pads.
Knee pads have a wide price range depending on the size, brand, and thickness of the pads. Pads typically fall in the price range of $20-$40, although they sometimes can fall outside of this range. Larger, thicker pads are usually going to cost more because they require more material and tend to last longer.
Like most pieces of equipment, there are different adult and youth sizes that both come in small, medium, and large options. Each brand could have the same size, but they could fit differently due to some brands having naturally tighter fits. The type of pad can also impact the size, as a large-sized, long knee pad is going to have a much different fit than a large-sized, short knee pad.
Most pieces of protective equipment offer protection at the expense of movement, and knee pads are no different. Knee pads help support the ligaments around the knee while also protecting the knee from bruising, but this naturally limits the range of motion and ease of mobility for the knee. The compression of the pads may not be the most comforting, but protection should always take precedent over comfort.
What size knee pads do I need for volleyball?
If you are an adult you are going to need to choose adult sized knee pads, while youth players are going to use youth pads. The proper size pads can be found by taking the measurement of the circumference of the knee, and then using that to find the proper size of the pad. Ultimately, the best way to size a pad is going to be by trying it on and seeing how it feels to move around in it.
Why do volleyball players have knee pads?
Volleyball players use knee pads in order to protect their knees from high-speed impacts with the court floor. Regardless of the material of the court, it is going to hurt to dive or slide on it, and knees are one of the most vulnerable parts of the body. Knee pads are worn in order to provide protection from things like bruises and cuts from dives. They are also worn as they can help support ligaments and muscles around the knee, so they're less injury prone during the game.
How long do volleyball knee pads last?
Volleyball knee pads typically last for about a single season, but that is largely dependent upon the frequency that they are worn. The use of the pads factors into the frequency as well, but the number of times that a player dives onto them is the largest factor. The durability of the pad also depends on the thickness of it, as thinner pads have less material to wear through. Thicker knee pads are both going to provide more protection and last longer, but they tend to come at higher prices and reduce mobility by even more.