10 Best Soccer Shin Guards for Ultimate Protection [2023]

Shin guards consist of a front shield plate and back cushioning, but their design varies depending on the type and brand. Some guards cover the entire leg and have straps for extra support, while others only cover the shin and rely on the player’s sock to keep them in place.

It is important to review the specifications and descriptions of a Shin Guard before purchasing them to ensure it is proper for the individual player and his or her needs.

Player position can also be a factor when deciding which Guard is the proper one for the individual. A midfielder will not always wear the same Guard as a forward. Forwards tend to worry about weight and size, opting for a smaller fit. Goalies will also wear smaller and lightweight Shin Guards. Defenders typically seek more coverage and protection due to the amount and severity of tackles they are involved in. In the end, advanced or older players will need to weigh the benefits and pitfalls found within the various Guards.

Moreover, youth players typically wear different and more protected guards than adult players. Youth players should lean more towards full ankle and shin protection, as they will be more prone to being kicked during play (training and match). However, adults and older players will too suffer from harder, even if less prone, kicks.

Similar to most footwear, Shin Guards are designed based on actual leg molds, typically those of professional players. Professionals and those sponsored by companies will test and assist in the design process before the Guards are released and sold to the public. This ensures the products are safe for use at the highest levels of competition. The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) oversees the standards for sports equipment specifically designed to protect High School players in the U.S. All High School players, and many at the club level must wear NOCSAE-approved Guards. The approval should be on the Shin Guard or Packaging, indicating that they have been certified for such use.

There are two primary forms of Shin Guards: Slip-On & Full Ankle Shin Guards.

Slip-On Shin Guards

A slip-on Guard is usually a light shield that is slid under the sock. Keeping slip-on Guards in place can be done in numerous ways, including but not limited to Velcro straps, athletic tape, bands, or compression sleeves. In today’s age, compression sleeves are generally used and sold with the Shin Guards. However, it is important to note that not all slip-on Guards will have sleeves included with the original purchase. The various companies usually sell sleeves separate from their individual Shin Guards. A slip-on Guard will provide a more advanced player will a wider range of motion and movement. They are also usually lightweight, allowing the player to move fasters and quicker on and off the ball.

Full Ankle Shin Guards

Full ankle Shin Guards are usually the shin plate attached to a padded ankle protector. Usually, the best shin guards for defenders soccer and attackers feel they need more protection. The Guard is all-in-one and usually has a strap at the foot or heel area, supporting the ankle protector, and a strap at the calf area, securing the shin plate. Typically, the ankle protector will protect against kicks or abrasions at the ankle and against ankle rolling. Full ankle Shin Guards are highly recommended for younger players, but any player that sustains many tackles or kicks to the ankle and shin area. It is worth noting that separate ankle protectors can be purchased and used in tandem with slip-on shin guards. For those wanting full protection with mobility, pairing a separate ankle protector and slip-on Guard is recommended.

It is important to clean Shin Guards regularly. This will prolong the Guard’s life and decrease the smell that will accumulate over time after regular use. It is safe to use soap and water. It is recommended to wash them by hand; however, some can be machine-washed. It is best to check the product information before using any machine. Once they have been washed, air-drying is then recommended. Baking soda can also be used when washing to reduce or eliminate odors.

Shin Guard size is generally determined by height. The taller the player, the larger or longer and wider the Shin Guard should be purchased. However, this has become a personal preference for older or more experienced players. The size of the Guard will get longer and wider, generally, when moving up in size. It is important to note that sizing is NOT the same as clothing sizes. A good rule of thumb is for Guards to fit so that the Guard is no more than a few inches away from the ankle and knee, respectively.

Best Soccer Shin Guards – NOCSAE Approved Shin Guards

Below you will find a general guide for Shin Guards and the various sizes found within the major brands:

General Shin Guard Sizing

Smallup to 5’2″
Mediumup to 5’10”
Largeup to 6’4″
X-Largeup to 6’10”

Are Soccer Shin Guards Necessary in Futsal?

When it comes to futsal, soccer shin guards are definitely necessary. Futsal is known for its fast-paced and intense gameplay, making the risk of getting struck in the shins quite high. To protect yourself and stay safe on the court, invest in futsal basics: all the essentials, including a quality pair of shin guards.

Soccer Shin Guards FAQs