While soccer isn’t too high of an impact sport, there is a lot of hitting below the belt or in this case shins. Our shins are made up of two very strong bones, but even the toughest bones aren’t impervious to shin splints, broken bones, and bruises, among other things.
So how does one stay in the game without literally breaking a leg?
Simple. Like any sport, soccer has its own set of protective gear namely cleats and shin guards. Cleats are an obvious piece of gear, but shin guards aren’t as overt as their name might suggest. For now, let’s start with why you need them.
Why Do You Need Skin Guards?
When you look at all the random street soccer matches you may notice most people aren’t wearing shin guards. This often leads many to think, are shin guards even necessary?
Well, in a professional setting, yes shin guards are necessary. This is because they are a part of the soccer uniform and serve a major purpose – protecting your shins from being kicked to bits and broken pieces. And yes, even those street soccer players could do with a pair of shin guards too.
On top of being a protective piece of clothing, shin guards also variate depending on your position.
How Your Position Determines Your Shin Guards for Soccer
Soccer players are divvied up into four major positions. Depending on the position, the shin guards will differentiate based on need and level of impact.
For maximum shin protection, below are recommended shin guard types for each soccer position:
This position doesn’t require heavy protection so you can get away with having a light shin guard with good ankle support.
The heavy hitters out of all the positions. Players in this position will often need the most protection for both shins and ankles. A heavy shin guard with solid ankle support will provide you with the best defense against incoming kicks.
While they do take some kicks here and there, this position often requires a balance between ample shin protection and mobility. A shin guard that offers a full range of motion and good shin support is ideal.
This position doesn’t require too much in the way of shin protection, so a light shin guard is more than enough.
Types of Shin Guards
Shin guards come in three basic types:
- Shin socks
If you’re looking for something hassle-free without sacrificing on protection, then these shin socks are a great investment. This type of shin guard has a shin shield sewn into the sock. The only drawbacks are sizing and making sure the shin socks you choose to meet NOCSAE regulations.
- Slip-in shin guards
Typically worn underneath socks, slip-in shin guards are as the name suggests. They are a lightweight piece of material that offers maximum mobility. Slip-in shin guards, however, do require additional tape or socks to hold them in place.
- Ankle shin guards
Giving you the best of both shin and ankle protection, ankle shin guards are simple shields that have a stirrup that slips under the foot. Some brands may offer removable ankle guards too. These are ideal for players that need maximum protection or play for either youth or intermediate teams.
Outside of shin guard types and position, another factor to consider is sizing.
The Importance of Getting the Right Size
Shin guards come in a wide range of sizes. To get the best defense against shin injuries you’ll need a shin guard that fits your shins like a glove. For a properly fitting shin guard, you’ll need to measure your height and then compare it to the shin guard brand’s sizing chart.
Before you buy a set of shin guards, try them on to see how well they fit. You’ll want to check if the shin guard is at least 2-inches below the knee and fits comfortably snug against the shin.
Top 5 Features Your Shin Guards Should Have for a Comfortable Soccer Match
With sizing out of the way, now you can move on to quality control. Shin guards, while simple in overall design, have a few key details you’ll need to consider. Here are five features your shin guards should have:
Shin guards are meant to shield the worst blows, but even they can fracture and break. It is important to look for shin guards that are made of tough, high-quality materials that can withstand heavy impact. Fiberglass and foam rubber are both ideal materials for soccer shin guards.
Shin guards should feel lightweight enough to not negatively impact movement. For optimal comfort, look for shin guards that fit correctly, offer a soft inner lining, and fabric that wicks away moisture. You’ll want to ensure a snug fit, but not an overly constricting fit as this can impact blood flow.
A good shin guard should have layers of protection. Look for ones that offer a hard outer shield and a foam inner layer. Depending on your needs, you can look for ones with minimal layers or multiple layers.
4. Non-Slip Fit
Low-quality shin guards tend to slip as you move, this leaves you with having to readjust them instead of focusing on the game. To prevent this, look for shin guards that fit well to your shins, offer either straps, tape or compression socks, and are of good quality materials.
5. Machine Washable
Playing a soccer match often means sweat, grass stains, and more sweat. To keep away the stink and make your shin guards last longer, look for ones that allow you to machine wash them.
Shin guards are something you don’t want to skimp on since they are what keep you from a broken leg or a twisted ankle. Along with shin guards, you’ll also want to look into shin guard accessories so you can achieve the perfect fit no matter what. We hope this guide helps you select the best shin guards for your next soccer match.