Shin guards are an essential piece of any player’s training or match bag and gear. For a match, it is in fact just as important a player’s boots and kit. Anymore, style usually outweighs function, which is why many Guards are popular based upon design, size weight and color. Sometimes, it can be hard to decide which Guard is proper and right for you with all of the various options. If protection if your primary goal, some of the facts of the individual Shin Guards will not matter. However, if brand and design are important, functionality and protection are thrown out the door.
A Shin Guard’s basic construction can be broken down into two parts: the front shield plate and the back cushioning. Any other part of a Guard will depend upon the type of guard and the brand’s specific design for that particular style of guard. Some guards will cover almost the entire leg and have straps to assist in securing the Guard to the leg. Other’s will simply cover the shin and may or may not have any support to secure the guard to the leg, other than the sock the player is wearing. It is important to review the specifications and descriptions of a Shin Guard before purchasing them in order 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 want to 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 weight the benefits and pitfalls found within the various Guards.
Moreover, a youth player will typically wear different and more protected guards as compared to 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.
Shin Guards, similar to most footwear, are designed based upon molds of actual legs, typically those of professional players. Professionals and those sponsored by companies will in fact test and assist in the design process prior to the Guards being 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, are required to wear NOCSAE approved Guards. The approval should be somewhere 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.
A slip-on Guard will usually be a light shield that is simply slide into place under the sock. Keeping slip-on Guards in place can be done in a numerous of 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 and apart from their individual Shin Guards. A slip-on Guard will provided a more advances 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 are usually the shin plate attached to a padded ankle protector. The Guard is all-in-one and will usually have 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 not only protect against kicks or abrasions at the ankle, but also protect against the ankle rolling. Full ankle Shin Guards are highly recommended for younger players, but any player that sustains a large amount of tackles or kicks to the ankle and shin area. It is worth noting that separate ankle protects can be purchases and used in tandem with slip-on shin guards. For those wanting full protection with mobility, a pairing of a separate ankle protector and slip-on Guard is recommended.
It is important to regularly clean Shin Guards. This will prolong the life of the Guard and also 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 in order 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 sizes. 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.
Below you will find a general guide for Shin Guards and the various sizes found within the major brands:
Small: up to 5’2”
Medium: up to 5’10”
Large: up to 6’4”
X-Large: up to 6’10”
Nike Shin Guards:
XS: 4’7”- 4’11”
YS: 3’11”-4’3” (age 4-6)
YM: 4’3”-4’7” (age 7-9)
YL: 4’7”-4’11” (age 10-12)
adidas Shin Guards:
XS: 3’11”-4’6” (age 6-9)
S: 4’7”-5’2” (age 10-13)
M: 5’3”-5’9” (age 14-17)
L: 5’10”-6’1” (age 18+)
XL: 6’2”-6’5” (age 18+)
G-Form Shin Guards:
S 4’7″ – 4’11” 140 – 150
M 5′ – 5’7″ 150 – 170
L 5’8 – 5’11” 170 – 180
XL 6′ – 6’3″ 180 – 190
PUMA shin guards:
S: 3’11” to 4’7″
M: 4’7″ to 5’3″
L: 5’3″ to 5’11”
The G-Form guards have become a revolutionary movement in Shin guard protection. This is the first soft, flexible, sleeve-style Guard to meet NOCSAE standards. It’s soft and flexible to the touch and when worn; however, the Guard hardens on impact. The attached sleeve provides for optimal performance and comfort yet breathability is excellent. It in fact, reduces sweat and heat. All of the guards can be machines washed. There are also separate ankle guard available, which can be pared with the Shin Guard, providing ultimate protection and movement for all players. (Pro Ankle Guard – $24.99). G-Form Guards are highly recommended for any player at any level. They truly are the next level shin guard
Adult Options: Pro-s Elite $39.99 and Pro-S $29.99.
Youth: Youth Pro-S Compact $24.99.
Ghost Pro – $21.99
This is a low profile guard that offers reliable protection. The front plate is grooved which allows for a flexible fit. The Guard comes with compression sleeve that assists in keeping it in place. The back of the Guard consists of EVA cushioned foam. The Guard is NOCSAE certified and can be used at all levels of play.
X Graphic – $24.99
This Guard is built for flexibility and speed. It comes with a compression sleeve that offers comfort and stability during play. The 3D flexible shield offers low-profile design, which is coupled with an EVA backing. This makes it a superior Guard for all levels of play since it is also NOCSAE certified.
Ghost Youth (Ankle) – $11.99
This is a fabulous Guard for younger player since it provides an attached ankle protector. The Guard provides a larger front plate for added protection along with an adjustable strap. This is a great starting point for youth players providing full protection from all knocks and kicks.
Messi 10 – $14.99
These guards are lightweight and Messi-inspired. The guard itself is low-profile the, but delivers reliable protection with EVA foam backing. This Guard is NOCSAE certified, and comes with the Messi logo and color scheme.
X Pro – $21.99
This Guard is built for flexibility and speed, accompanying with them a compression sleeves that offers comfort. It is designed to provide optimal comfort while never affecting speed or movement. The front shield is made from 3D material comprised of a TPU injection-molded for its backing. This Guard is NOCSAE certified.
Mercurial Lite – Price $21.99
This Nike Guard provides low profile system with reliable protection. The guard is based on an anatomical design, which creates an optimal fit. These Guard also come with dri fit compression sleeves and are NOCSAE certified.
Mercurial Flylite – $54. 99
This Guard features a flexible shell that helps reduce the impact from knocks and kicks. Included in the design are Airflow channels that provide optimal breathability during play. Dri-FIT sleeves are also included to ensure a secure fit.
Charge 2.0 (ankle) $11.99 –
These Nike guards provide full protection with its attached ankle protector. The design of the guard incorporates a rear-fastening top strap. They are reinforced with a high-density shell, which increases protection. These meet NOCSAE standards.
J Guard – Price – $9.99
This is a lightweight, slip-in Guard for players who would rather not wear a guard at all. The guard offers protection without getting adding weight. The design has an anatomical shape for a comfortable fit that is also breathable.
Protegga (Ankle) – $27.99
This is an excellent full protection Guard created with a k-resin front plate and removable ankle protector. This is a great option for young players who want versatility with their Guards and the protection they provide. These are NOCSAE certified.
Youth Charge – $11.99
Nike Youth Charge Soccer Shin Guards offer low-profile protection. It’s the perfect shin guard for players just getting started in the game. Nike Youth Charge Shin Guards offer full coverage with EVA foam cushioning. Grooves on the sides let the guard flex around the leg. Anatomically shaped pull-on design with exterior grooves for additional flexibility. Polypropylene shell for protection EVA molded foam for cushioning Exterior grooves help improve flexibility Attached ankle guards with foot stirrups for added protection and secure fit
Protegga Flex Youth – $27.99
These youth Guards provide the aame technology as the adult Nike Protegga Flex Guards. The shape and size are engineered to fit smaller players. The Guards provide a contoured fit and an injected padding for comfortable, lightweight impact protection during play. The ankle protector is also removable, so the player has options with regards to style and function or protection.
Powercat Lite – $9.99
These are lightweight Guards that provide a thin ergonomically shape, which increases comfort and flexibility within the front plate. The backing of the Guard is made of a mesh fabric and EVA foam, increasing comfort and breathability. These guards are NOCSAE approved.
One 17.1 – $49.99
This PUMA guard is a lightweight attaching a high-impact shell. The unique perforated and compressed EVA foam backing on the Guard offers additional protection and comfort. The Guards come with an elasticated compression sleeve with pocket for a secure fit during play.
One 17.3 – $19.99
Another lightweight and high-impact guard made by PUMA for game-day protection. The design is similar to the 17.1 Guard, providing a K-resin shell and perforated and compressed EVA foam backing. The price point on these Guards make for a great choice when looking to reduce price while maintaining comfort. These are NOCSAE certified.
Future 18.1 – $54.99
These PUMA Guards provide an advanced fit compression sleeve that has built-in Guard protection. Since the Guard is built into the sleeve, the fit, comfort, and added protection from its design is superior to many of its counter parts. The Guard will absorb impact yet never impact speed or comfort during the high levels of play.