Selecting Soccer Shin Guards
If you answered comfort...
...you must be a soccer player.
If you said protection...
...you are a parent of a soccer player.
Unfortunately, comfort and protection in shinguards are somewhat mutually exclusive. In other words: more comfort-less protection and vice versa.
What kind of soccer shin guards should you choose then?
Actually they do pay for it (in most cases at least).
Based on my experience as a professional soccer player and now as a soccer parent, let me give you some pointers and recommendations.
Hopefully I will provide you with enough resources to select the kind of soccer shin guards that are adequate for you…and your parents.
Of course the kind your parents will choose for you. They pay for it…Right?... Just kidding.
So, if there is disagreement between you and you parents on what kind of shinguards to buy - read this guide with your parents.
If there is no disagreement and you just want to find out what’s on the market ( find out more than any commercial site provides these days) - use this guide to make the most valuable selection for you.
Actually they do pay for it (in most cases at least).
Based on my experience as a professional soccer player and now as a soccer parent, let me give you some pointers and recommendations. Hopefully I will provide you with enough resources to select the kind of soccer shin guards that are adequate for you…and your parents.
With ankle sleeves or without
- Shin Guards with ankle sleeves. This type of soccer shin guards will give you extra protection of your ankles. The strap under the foot should hold the shinguard in place. I said, “should” because sometimes the strap pulls the shinguard down, causing discomfort.
- Shin Guards without ankle sleeves. Soccer shin guards without ankle sleeves are lighter and less restrictive; more comfortable. They are called “slip-ins”.
Also thickness around your ankles reduces the feel of the ball. Not preferred by older and more advanced players but very adequate for young kids (10 years old and younger).
Such shinguards are usually slipped into and held in place by the socks. They are less expensive but also less-protective than those with ankle protection.
Tip ! Soccer shin guards with ankle sleeves (guards) are very good for young players. Their skills are still on a low level. Therefore, bulkiness around their feet and ankles doesn’t really affect their performance that much.
However, during skill practices, they should wear regular hard shell without sleeves. It will allow them to feel and control the ball better…they will learn faster. And don’t worry about buying two different types. Most (if not all) of ankle sleeves are detachable.
When a youth soccer player reaches a higher, more advanced level, playing with ankle sleeves could be little bit more difficult. Higher level requires better skills. Soccer player needs to use these skills to the fullest of his/hers potential.
Anything thick, insulating and bulky on player’s feet (ankles included) will interfere with his/hers performance on the soccer field.
Just imagine a football quarterback wearing hockey gloves (maybe little extreme example but… funny).
This is just my opinion. The decision is yours.
This brings us back to the debate of comfort and protection.
Bigger, covering more of your shins…better protection - less comfort. Smaller…you know the drill.
Definitely, in order to be able to play soccer to your potential, you can’t have too big shin guards. What is too big?
If a shin guard covers more than ¾ of your shin - it is too big.
If someone ever tells you that soccer shin guards should cover the entire length of your shin...
...neither he/she has ever played soccer nor he/she doesn’t know when the tibia (shinbone) starts and ends.
Remember - do not buy soccer shin guards that will cover your entire shin (up from the bottom edge of the knee cap-down to the top of the foot).
¾ of the length of the shinbone - this is the ultimate length of a soccer shin guard.
What about if the shinguard is shorter than that?
According to FIFA rules there are no length limitations.
All it states is that shinguards “are covered entirely by the stockings; are made of a suitable material (rubber, plastic, or similar substances); provide a reasonable degree of protection”.
According to your parents rules…
...it could be little different.
Just stick with the “3/4 of a length-rule” and you have the best combination of comfort and protection.
Selecting soccer shin guards by sizes-small, medium, large could be confusing, because they differentiate from different manufacturers. So, if you buy shinguards in your local soccer store, make sure you have measuring tape with you.
If you want to buy them on Internet (cheaper), most of online soccer stores specify the length of every shinguard they sell…at least those I recommend.
Today’s soccer shin guard is constructed with a hard outer casing and softer inner layer. The outer casing is made out of different materials:
- Thermo Plastic Rubber
I can’t tell you what material is better than the other. They are all highly effective forms of protection.
That is why you shouldn’t be too concerned about it…what I mean is…the type of the outer layer’s material should be your least factor in determining the kind of shinguards you select. All of them are good enough for soccer.
Plastic shinguards are considered the “weakest”…but they are the cheapest and very light.
The inner layer of soccer shin guards is made of soft, light-weight (comfort) and shock-absorbing (protection) foam. The most known is EVA Foam. All Top 10 Soccer Shin Guards I recommend have this kind of backing material.
Adidas and Nike, besides basic foam material, use specially engineered materials that reduce heat and moisture build-up from perspiration. Adidas calls it ClimaCool and Nike - DriFit. Of course extras like these will cost you little more.
Most of soccer shin guards makers use the same materials and very similar technologies, so I wouldn’t worry too much about the manufacturer.
Unless you choose to get shin guards with Osi technology (moldable), than Brine, Parker or Sondico should be your selection. Learn more about this type of soccer shin guards in my
Top 10 Soccer Shin Guards.
Where to buy soccer shin guards ?
I've been buying soccer gear online for over three years now. There are many advantages of purchasing soccer equipment (and not only) on the Internet over traditional shopping at the retail stores. It's more convenient and easier but most of all...it's cheaper.
The following online stores are the sites I shop at for any soccer gear I need.
Well, actually, for any soccer gear...my sons need (most of the time, sometimes I am lucky to get something for my self).
All these sites are reliable, safe and secure. At least I have never had a bad experience with any of them (so far).
World Soccer Shop
Full line soccer equipment store with one of the biggest soccer inventory on the Internet. Easy to navigate. Worldwide orders shipment.
Based on retail store in Raynham Massachusetts. It offers all types of soccer equipment including huge selection of soccer shoes. Sends orders only within the US.
Sporting goods store with decent selection of soccer cleats for men, women and kids. Sends orders only within the US. Free shipment on selected items.
Soccer Equipment on Ebay (Suggested)
Very often you can really find a great bargain at Ebay for the same product that is sold at the "regular" stores, both on and off line.
Other Sporting Goods Stores
|Sports Authority||MC Sports||Dick's Sports||FogDog Sports|
They all provide large selection of all kinds of soccer gear. Often, they offer many types of promotions, sales and discounts. Send orders only within the US.
Click here to get detailed information about all these stores.
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