The essentials in sizing and selecting the right shin guards for playing soccer.
Soccer players don’t have much defence besides their cleats and their shin guards, making your guards critically important to reduce injury. At competitive play, shin guards are also often mandatory because of this reason. Often we find people grab the quickest, cheapest pair of guards just to get on the field, but choosing the right set can make a big difference in your protection and your play.
Types of Shin Guards
There are different styles depending on player position and preference. First, we’ll review the styles before going into the positions.
Slip-In Shin Guards
Just as the name suggests, these shin guards simply slip into your soccer socks. That makes them usually much lighter than other guards, and depending on the fit, quite comfortable. As you might expect, lighter will help players with speed and agility and reduce fatigue, but offer less protection.
Ankle Shin Guards
These are the classic shin guards that many players start out using because of the wider protection and how they fit snugly to the leg. They wrap nicely around the bottom of the foot and cover the ankle. Additional coverage is fantastic for newer players or younger players where getting kicked in legs is quite a common occurrence.
There are some products that provide the protection of a shin guard built right into the sock. The combined shin socks are quite popular for junior players that mean less items to maintain or purchase every year. If you play on a team with team colour socks, these options may not work well as doubling up the sock may be uncomfortable or become too hot.
What Position do you Play?
The position you play and the style of your game can impact your choice. Soccer is a game of speed and agility, but it is also a game defending. So choosing the ideal shin guard becomes important. Above all though, you need to pick a guard that fits you comfortably. You will be running in these for a long time, so prioritize your comfort and safety.
If you play this role, you know being a defender can mean putting your body on the line at times. Heavier guards and the more complete coverage you get from full ankle shin guards is optimal in keeping your lower legs in shape game after game. If you also incorporate sliding into your defence, full ankle guards wrap beneath the foot and remain in position better than a slip in.
Playing forward on offence often places a high value on speed, so being lightweight is essential. Many athletes prefer a slip in guard that is light yet strong, giving them optimal mobility and top speed without creating fatigue. There is a trade off with having less coverage though, so being nimble to avoid rough tackles is key.
Being in the midfield brings offensive and defensive requirements, so depending on which style you are you may want a different shin guard. Playing back more? Go with a full ankle. Joining the rush? Try slip in. Core to any good midfielder is their agility and playing the role required of them, so pick a guard that fits your game.
Generally there’s a preference towards lightweight shin guards like slip in to reduce fatigue. However, if you’re a keeper that is often in the action, you might want to have additional coverage so you can rush out and cut down attackers with confidence. Picking shin guards for a goalie is also about preference, but the most common guard is a slip in for light weight and less fatigue.
Sizing Your Shin Guards
As we mentioned above, finding the right size and fit is essential. An improper fit may result in your shin guards shifting out of place, causing discomfort and not providing the right protection.
A properly fitting shin guard should wrap around your shin snugly and not leave big gaps against your leg. A firm shell guard isn’t going to flex and bend easily, so find the good fit and know that younger players are likely going to be sizing up as they grow.
Also, a shin guard should cover most of your shin, otherwise it won’t protect much! Coverage should start about 2 inches below the knee. Too high and it will causing discomfort as your knee bends. The guard should end about 2 inches above the ankle for the same reason. You don’t want contact from your foot on the shin pad.
We hope you get the right shin guards for you. They're important and they can make a big difference in your game. If you're still uncertain, we encourage you to give us a visit and we'll help you find the right fit!