Playing soccer is great fun but, as with many sports, the risk of injury is always present. To reduce this risk a vital piece of equipment for soccer players is their shin guards, so we are going to take a detailed look at the important factors to consider when trying to buy the best pair of shin guards.
How To Choose The Best Soccer Shin Guards
Although soccer is a contact sport it only has one piece of equipment whose sole function is protection. Other equipment like soccer cleats and goalkeeper gloves offer protection but they have more important roles to play. Shin guards, however, do not even come into contact with the ball…or at least they shouldn’t.
There are some players who find shin guards a hindrance and would prefer to play without them. This may be allowed during training, but for organized soccer FIFA rules since 1990 have made it compulsory for professional players to wear shin guards. At lower levels of soccer there will be different regulations regarding shin guards so please make sure you are aware of them.
Whether wearing shin guards is compulsory or not at the level you play at, they are still highly recommended to protect your shin bone which is susceptible to impact injuries such as severe bruising or fractures.
Types of Shin Guard
Firstly, there are three different types of shin guards; Slip-In, Ankle and Shin Socks. Slip-in shin guards are the type which simply fit inside your socks. Some will not require anything to keep them in place, but the majority will. This can be dome using tape, special sleeves, or a tie ups. A major advantage of these type of shin guards is they do not impede your maneuverability as much as others might.
Ankle shin guards offer greater protection because they have additional padding and support in the ankle area. These help to reduce impact injuries and ankle sprains. Ankle shin guards are secured using a soft stirrup which goes under the foot and fastens with a strap.
Shin socks are exactly as the name suggests: socks with the shin guard sewn into them. It is simply a case of pulling on your socks and the shin guard is already there. As they are so convenient and easy to put on they are particularly suited to children.
What Position Do You Play?
As with soccer cleats, the position you play should be borne in mind when choosing soccer shin guards.
- Goalkeeper: They are not going to need as much protection as outfield players so a lightweight, comfortable shin guard is best.
- Defender: A lot of tackling, so lots of chances to get injured. Strong shin guards are required and many defenders would be best served by ankle shin guards for the extra protection they offer.
- Midfielder: Due to the amount of running and the need for maneuverability, you don’t won’t shin guards that are too heavy if you play in this position. Look for shin guards which offer a balance between good protection and movement.
- Forwards: As forwards need to be able to sprint and turn quickly they should opt for the lightest shin guards they can find.
What Size Should You Buy?
Shin guards don’t normally come with a sizing system of numbers in the same way soccer cleats or shoes do. Instead, they are simply sized in inches. As a general rule, you want shin guards which protect most of the length of your leg between your knee and ankle. Normally you should have a gap of about 2 inches below your knee.
Some of the bigger manufacturers of shin guards have their own sizing guide and this can be useful if you are unsure of the size of shin guard you need. These tend to be based on the player’s height where the manufacturers suggest a size of shin guard depending on how tall you are.
What Materials Are They Made From?
There are many different materials used to make shin guards and each manufacturer should have this information available for you when buying. The main materials that may be used for the outer part of the shin guard are:
- Thermo Plastic Rubber
There is no single one of these that we can say offers more protection for your shins than any other as they are all very hard and therefore effective at eliminating impact injuries.
For the interior part of the shin guard, which is in contact with your leg, most manufacturers use lightweight foam which acts as a shock absorber and cushions the shin guard against the leg. The most common material used is EVA foam although some of the bigger brands use their own in-house variations of this material.
Recommended Soccer Shin Guards
The basic functions of shin guards are to protect shins and to be as comfortable as possible so they do not impede the player wearing them from running, turning or shooting. The Vizari Malaga Shin Guards achieve these well and have one or two other benefits for players as well.
For the basic function of protection, the Vizari Malaga Shin Guard uses polypropylene (PP) plastic on the front section which will prevent the shin from being injured by high impact kicks or collisions. Although it is tough, PP is also a very lightweight material so those players who need agility or rely on sprinting when playing soccer, will not feel any hindrance from these shin guards.
Behind the outer guard, there is a padded foam backing which acts not only as a shock absorber against any front impact, it also makes wearing these Vizari shin guards extremely comfortable. As a soccer player, you will know, the more comfortable the kit you’re wearing is the more you can focus on playing well.
Adding to the comfort element are the straps and Velcro strips which will keep the shin guards secure and prevent any excess movement whilst you are running, for example. These fastenings can be adjusted in order to suit you.
With their reputation as one of the world’s biggest soccer brands in terms of equipment, it should come as no surprise that we have a pair of shin guards from Adidas to review. They are the Adidas Performance Ghost Pro Shin Guard and with them being all black, other than a white Adidas logo, they certainly don’t look in any way weak or incapable of protection.
However, as we have learned how something looks can be a world away from how they perform so let’s see if they can do the job.
The front of the shin guard, which takes the majority of punishment, needs to be able to withstand heavy kicks and with these being made from injection molded polypropylene you can be sure they will withstand pretty much everything. This means your shins will be well protected behind them.
To cushion any impact, lightweight EVA backing is used which should prove to be durable and also comfortable when you are wearing these shin guards.
Adidas have incorporated a compression sleeve with pockets for each shin guard to be placed in. This means rather than having to secure them with straps and/or Velcro, which can sometimes be cumbersome, you simply pull on the sleeves like socks. The shin guards then get placed in the sleeves, where they remain secure throughout your soccer match.
If you are looking for the best soccer shin guards, not for yourself, but for a child then this next review will definitely be of interest to you. The Dashsport Soccer Shin Guards basically have all the features and benefits you’d expect to find on an adult pair of shin guards but are made in sizes suited to children and youths.
The outer shell is made from durable polypropylene which gives young players, their parents and their coaches the reassurance that if the child is kicked in the shin area, they are well protected. Although it is tough enough to withstand impacts, an added advantage of polypropylene is it is also very lightweight, so it will not hinder children and youths when they are playing.
For comfort, the backing on the shin guards is made from padded foam, which also acts as a shock absorber to eliminate any pain if the player is kicked. Further protection is achieved using ankle supports which help eliminate any ankle knocks or sprains.
To keep the shin guards secure there is an elasticated foot strap which goes under the foot and Velcro fasteners which fasten behind the leg. These straps should minimize any movement of the shin guards during play or training.
Although blue for a boy and pink for a girl may seem a bit cliqued, those are the alternative colors which are available, as well as the standard white and black.
As one of the most talented players in the world there is no doubting that Lionel Messi is the target for some hefty challenges and tackling. Opposition players are so afraid of his skills that they have no problem in simply kicking him in order to stop him getting past. This means for Lionel Messi, shin guards are as important to him as his footwear.
Whilst children are not likely to experience the sort of foul play that Lionel Messi experiences (we hope) they can still protect their shins with shin guards bearing his name. The Adidas Messi 10 Youth Shin Guards are what we are reviewing here so let’s check them out.
The main function of shin guards is protection and to achieve this Adidas have used a hard polypropylene material for the outer shell. This will ensure any kicks aimed towards the shin have no serious impact.
To cushion any blows further, and to add a good level of comfort there is a soft EVA backing behind the outer shell.
These Adidas Messi 10 shin guards also incorporate ankle support which gives youths wearing these shin guards additional protection in an area which is particularly susceptible to injuries such as sprains and bruising.
The ankle supports form part of the underfoot strap which keeps the base of the shin guards secure and Velcro strapping in the calf area keep the top of the shin guards secure also.
We know there are many of you out there that don’t like big brands and prefer to buy simple, basic equipment when it comes to your soccer kit. If that sounds like you then you are going to love the Franklin Sports Superlight Shin Guards. They have a simple design, and no unnecessary gimmicks but more importantly, they do the job of protecting your shins well.
The front shell is made from a hard, high-density synthetic material which will ensure your shins stay free from bruises, abrasions or even worse if you get kicked hard by an opponent.
The shape of these shin guards is designed to be asymmetrical so that they fit snuggly and comfortably around your shin area. The more secure they are around your leg the better protection they can provide, so this is an important feature.
To help your legs avoid getting too sweaty and moist, these Franklin shin guards have vents built into them to allow excess heat to escape and moisture to evaporate. Adding to your comfort is padded backing which also cushions against front impact.
To fasten the shin guards securely, there are two straps, (one at the top, one at the bottom) which can be adjusted to suit your leg size.
Shin guards might not seem all that exciting and if we are truly honest we don’t find them particularly exciting either. However, we must respect the fact in some playing scenarios they are compulsory, and more critically they may just protect you from serious injury.
For these reasons, we thought long and hard before choosing our best soccer shin guards and finally settled on the Vizari Malaga Shin Guard as our winner.
There is nothing complicated about these shin guards, but they are very effective in protecting the front of the leg thanks to their PP shell and foam padding. They have ankle support which is always important and are lightweight so they do not hinder movement.
Holding them securely in place is the underfoot strap and Velcro strips so that excess movement when you are running does not become an issue.
Nothing fancy. Nothing elaborate. Just a pair of shin guards that protect you, and protect you well.