Shin guards are a required piece of protective equipment for every soccer player. They come in all shapes, sizes, and styles – so how do you know what to choose? Whether you’re buying for yourself or a young player, here’s everything you need to know about shin guards.
Shin guards are an essential piece of equipment in soccer, and the only protective gear players are required to wear. When referees conduct their pre-game check, one of the things they do is make sure every soccer player is wearing shin guards. Any player without shin guards doesn’t play.
Why Players Need Shin Guards
Unlike many parts of our body, shin bones are fairly exposed due to lack of insulation by muscle and other tissue. This is a particular concern in soccer where the main action takes place at our feet. Shin guards help minimize the risk to players by protecting vulnerable shins from exposure to tackles, kicks, and other knocks.
Shin Guard Basics
Shin guards are designed to closely fit the natural curve of the players lower leg. They should be worn next to the skin underneath soccer socks. To increase energy absorption, the shin guard shell should be thick and rigid in both directions. Shin guards should provide adequate protection for the leg between the knee and ankle while still allowing good range of motion. There are several basic shin guard designs to choose from.
- Ankle Shin Guards are typically recommended for young and less experienced players because they offer more protection, with additional padding on both sides of the ankle to shield it from kicks. Most ankle shin guards feature stirrups that slide under the feet, along with a hook-and-loop strap or elastic band that wraps around the calf to ensure a secure fit.
- Shin Socks look like soccer socks but have the built-in padding of traditional shin guards, which makes them both convenient and efficient. Shin socks are a popular choice for youth players because they don’t have to worry about shin guard placement and it’s one less piece of equipment to keep track of. This style also typically has a stirrup strap at the bottom that goes under the foot to prevent the shin guard from moving up and down during play. Some shin socks also include ankle protection in the form of padding attached at the bottom.
- Slip-in Shin Guards are portable and lightweight. Some options come with a grip on the front to hold them in place and prevent socks from falling down. Slip-in shin guards are often preferred by more advanced players because they allow for more freedom of movement and avoid the possibility of the ankle guard catching the ball and sending it in another direction.
Choosing the Right Shin Guard
A player’s age, experience, and personal preference are key factors when choosing shin guards. Younger and less experienced players should opt for the additional protection offered in ankle shin guards. As players gain experience, in addition to protection, they should consider what is most comfortable and provides the amount of shin coverage they want. Some players find the ankle guards uncomfortable due to sensory issues and prefer an alternative. The more experience a player has, the more likely they are to know what works for them.
How to Find the Right Size Shin Guard
Typically, soccer shin guard sizes are categorized as Youth, Small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large, but the specific measurements for each size can vary. To find the correct size:
- Measure Your Leg - Use a flexible measuring tape or a piece of string to measure the length of the players shin from just above the ankle to just below the knee.
- Consult Sizing Charts - Different manufacturers may have slightly different sizing guidelines, so check the sizing chart provided by the brand you're interested in.
What to Do about Shin Guard Rash Some players may get rashes from wearing shin guards, often referred to as Skin Guard Dermatitis. If the rash is inflamed, consult a doctor. Most cases are treated with a topical steroid or other anti-inflammatory ointment. Wearing a shin sleeve beneath the shin guard creates a barrier which should prevent future outbreaks.
If you have questions about how to choose the right shin guard for yourself or your player, call or stop by one of European Sports soccer specialty stores located in Schaumburg, Glen Ellyn and Naperville. . We’re here to answer all of your questions. It’s part of our commitment to make soccer fun and affordable for your family.