Soccer shin guards are one of the most essential pieces of equipment for soccer players, both young and old. With so many feet going after just one ball, it’s inevitable that someone gets kicked sometimes. When you’re on the receiving end of a kick, the last thing most people want is to be bare-shinned.
It’s All About Protecting Them Bones, Your Shins!
Our favorite for the best soccer shin guard is the Nike Mercurial Lite Shin Guards. Check out the full reviews of our top 5 below.
However, shin pads are highly beneficial, but only when they are sized and chosen correctly. Men’s shin guards compared to youth shin guards, or even for women, all fit differently. Loose or poorly fitted shin guards may slip when they are needed the most, fall out, or may otherwise fail. If you are a first-time soccer parent or a novice interested in finding your own, you will need to understand what the best soccer shin guards are for you.
This means knowing how to choose the best shin guards, what to look for, and more.
How to Choose the Best Shin Guards
Choosing the best shin guards requires a few key considerations, including position, sizing, and types of shin guards.
1. Player Position
Every position in soccer plays a unique role with different needs as a result. For people who play all positions on the field, well-rounded shin guards that allow for both protection and flexibility are best. However, if you tend to play just one position, you’ll need to look for features that are specific to that position.
- Defenders need heavier guards that offer plenty of protection and ankle coverage.
- Midfielders often benefit from well-rounded shin pads that balance both flexibility and protection.
- Goalkeepers need minimal protection and often benefit from lightweight options.
- Forwards or Strikers often benefit from lightweight and small shin guards that offer protection without interfering with mobility.
2. Shin Guard Sizing – They Should Be an Extension of Your Shins
Sizing is determined primarily by the height of a player and the length of the shin. Use the Shin Guard Sizing Chart below for general reference. But always check the size chart on the particular shin guard to get a fit that is snug and about least 2″ under the knee.
|RECOMMENDED SIZE||SHIN LENGTH||HEIGHT RANGE||AGE OF CHILD|
|X Small||6 – 8 Inches||3’11” – 4’6″||2 – 5 Years Old|
|Small||8 – 10 Inches||4’7″ – 5’2″||4 – 8 Years Old|
|Medium||10 – 11.5 Inches||5’3″ – 5’9″||7 – 14 Years Old|
|Large||11.5 – 13 Inches||5’10” – 6’1″||12 – 18 Years Old|
|X Large||13 – 17 inches||6’2″ – 6’5″||18+ Years Old|
3. Types of Shin Guards – Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder
Finally, you need to consider the type of shin guard you may be interested in. There are three primary types: Slip-in shin guards, ankle shin guards, and shin socks.
Slip-in Shin Guards
Slip-in shin guards are lightweight options that fit underneath socks. Some pairs are snug enough to keep the shin pads secure. Others prefer to tape them or use compression sleeves to hold the shields securely during play. These are a favored option for advanced players who prefer the freedom of movement.
Grab some shin guard sleeves for your slip-in shin guards: Shin guard sleeves 4 pack.
Shin Guards with Ankle Protection
Ankle shin guards are more protective and are often recommended for younger players. As a defender, I have been kicked in the ankle enough times in my game experience that I also prefer them. Even as an adult player.
They are padded on both sides of the ankle to keep it safe. Most of these have stirrups that go under the feet and keep them in place, plus a hook-and-loop strap around the calf to keep them secure. Some versions of shin guards with ankle protection are available where the ankle guard is not directly attached to the shin guard. Plus, you can buy the ankle guards separately if you later decide you need them, they get damaged or become worn out.
Shin Guard Sleeves or Socks
Shin guard sleeves or socks are designed with convenience in mind. They are easy to put on, with the shin pads built right into the sock or sleeve. Young players often prefer these for ease of use.
Grab some shin guard sleeves for your slip-in shin guards: Shin guard sleeves 4 pack.
For the Love of Your Shins – The Importance of Shin Guards
Shin guards bring several key benefits that make them worthwhile. This piece of protection keeps shins protected from painful kicks from cleated feet. Some of the most important benefits include the following:
Risk of Injury is Lower
There is a risk of injury in any sport, but wearing shin guards can help mitigate it. Shin pads protect the shins from being kicked or stepped on, especially after falling to the ground. Well-fitted shin guards stay in place, regardless of what happens, and help to protect the legs and shins better.
May Provide Extra Support
Though not true for all pairs of shin guards, many provide a better sense of support for the individual wearing them. Shin guards designed to cradle the ankle and wrap around the foot are highly effective at supporting the foot during running, cutting, jumping, kicking, and tackling.
Boosting Confidence on the Playing Field
When playing soccer, wearing shin guards can also translate to confidence because you know that your legs are protected and safe. Players wearing shin guards know that their legs aren’t going to be hit with cleats if the other person misses their mark. Knowing that there is an additional layer between yourself, and potential injury can often make people more daring and willing to tackle the ball or to block a shot or pass.
How to Wear Shin Guards
Wearing soccer shin guards correctly is highly dependent upon the variety you have chosen. Always check the included instructions to ensure that shin pads are applied correctly, or check out our guide for How To Wear Shin Guards.
Typically usage starts with making sure that they are the right size and length. Most younger players use shin guards that include ankle protection, which is put on first. Socks are then pulled on over the guards, and finally, the cleats are put on last. While you can put these guards over your socks, most leagues will require socks over the shin guards since there is a danger of someone getting hurt by direct contact with the plastic portion of the shin guard.
Slip-in guards, on the other hand, go inside socks after socks and cleats have already been put on. Then, put on the guard and tug up the sock over it. Some prefer to use tape to keep the sock and guard in place. Many slip-ons also come with a sleeve that can hold the guard in place as well.
Remember that League rules usually require socks to completely cover the pair of shin guards, so plan accordingly.
Keep Those Guards Clean
You will get sweaty when you play soccer. Plus, with tight socks over them and the foam from the guards directly on your shin, your shin guards will get sweaty too. This could lead to some pretty gross and stinky guards.
Make sure you keep them clean. Check out our post How to Clean Shin Guards for the best advice to keep them clean and smelling great!
Our Top 5 Best Soccer Shin Guards
We reviewed many soccer shin pads and over the years we’ve seen and tried a variety of types of guards. These are our top five favorite shin guards, complete with pros and cons:
1. Nike Mercurial Lite Shin Guards (Editor’s Choice)
This pair of shin guards is our top pick. They are designed to provide protection to the shin and do so without compromising flexibility or speed. With breathable contoured sleeves, these are comfortable and secure, even when running and dribbling the ball.
The Nike Mercurial Lite Shin Guards offer several key benefits, including:
- The breathability makes these cool to wear, even in the summer heat, without getting too sweaty.
- They are sturdy and protective while still maintaining a slim profile and lightweight build.
- They offer a stylish and comfortable design in several different colors for customizability.
- These shin guards come in a variety of sizes, ranging from XS to XL.
- The shin guards are built with a left and right-leg-specific fit to create more contouring and more comfort.
Because of the minimal profile, these shin guards are built with, there are a few cons to them, but these are few and far between.
- They tend to run a bit on the smaller size. Most people size up to ensure a comfortable fit.
- Using your usual size may be a bit too tight and leave indentations in the skin.
2. adidas Tiro League Shin Guards
The adidas Tiro League Shin Guards offer plenty of key benefits that earn them a spot on this list. This pair of slip-in shin guards protect the shins from within a compression sleeve to hold them in place. They offer good middle-of-the-pack pricing which makes them good all-arounders.
For aggressive soccer players, this pair of shin guards may be just what they need thanks to many features:
- These shin guards have a low-profile design that sits comfortably along the leg without getting too close to the knee.
- The padded backing on this shin guard helps to absorb impact during play.
- The compression sleeves hold these shin guards in place snugly.
- These shin guards can be put on or taken off without needing to remove shoes.
Some players may find a few faults with these shin guards, although there are not many complaints.
- The compression sleeves are separate from the shin guards, meaning there is more to keep track of. If you lose a piece, you have to replace it.
- Some people find that they are a bit too heavy for their liking.
- They may require tape to keep them up on some calves.
- Some players have actually said they are too small so they sized up.
3. Henkel Carbon Fiber Soccer Shin Guards
You may have not heard of Henkfl before, but these are like the Cadillac of shin guards. That means they are a bit more pricey but worth it. The unique carbon fiber material is ultra-lightweight but very effective against high impact. As a defender, I’ve been kicked in the shins so hard that it broke my shin guard. You can imagine what happened to my shin!
Some of the benefits the Henkfl Carbon Fiber Shin Guards offer include the following:
- These shin guards will protect you from almost anything. Kicks, spikes, heck probably even rocks.
- These shin guards provide protection without the bulk. They are quite lightweight.
- For increased comfort, these shin guards are backed with EVA sponge foam.
- The arc design of the guard offers a more natural fit and comfort.
- They come with a hand zipper carrying case. You’ll never lose your guards again!
Some of the most common complaints that people may encounter with these shin guards include:
- These shin guards do not come with any compression sleeves. You must purchase them separately. There are a variety available online.
- There are only 2 sizes: M：12-18 years old， L：Over 18 years old
- Some people find these shin guards to be a bit too slim for wider calves.
4. Vizari Malaga Soccer Shin Guards
The Vizari Malaga Soccer Shin Guards offer plenty of protection and support in a lightweight form thanks to the integrated ankle protectors. These are our pick for best shin guards for kids and fit children from 3’3″ to 5;11″.
These shin guards excel in many ways, including the following:
- They offer ankle supports to help protect little feet.
- With several different sizing options, most children can find a size that fits them.
- The lightweight shell is protective while still being suitable for children.
- The shin guards fit many legs thanks to the adjustable velcro straps to get a comfortable fit.
- The velcro attaches in the front of the shin guard instead of over skin, protecting little legs from getting scratched with use.
There are a few aspects some people may not like about these shin guards.
- For some, the shin guards may come up a bit higher on the leg and closer to the knee than is comfortable for them.
- Some people may find that they run a bit small, even when compared to the size chart.
- For people with narrower ankles, it may be a bit too loose around the foot, preventing a nice, secure fit.
5. G-Form Pro-S Vento Shin Guards
Hello to all the shin guard haters. This pair is for you!
G-From developed their Pro-S Vento Soccer Shin Guard and the next evolution from the Pro-S Elite Shin Guards. The name is inspired by the Italian “Vento,” which means wind. With their form fitting and low profile design, they either make you as light as the wind or you can run as fast as the wind.
Check out our full Pro-S Vento Shin Guards Review
Like the Elite, the Pro-S Vento Shin Guards offer a fantastic soft and flexible sleeved option for those who prefer a one-piece option. Their ability to harden on impact sets these shin pads apart. By leaving out the shell, these fit better and provide better comfort. Plus, they slip on and stay put like a sock.
These shin guards earn a spot on this list because they balance comfort and ease of use in one pair.
These shin guards excel in many ways, including:
- They offer a comfortable, lightweight fit.
- These shin guards are machine washable, making them incredibly easy to care for.
- They do not require any tape or additional sleeves to keep them in place.
- Most people will find a pair that fits, with these guards coming in sizes to fit calves from 13 to 18″ around.
These shin guards may fall short for some users in certain ways, including:
- You cannot remove the guards from the sleeves.
- They can’t be quickly put on.
- For people with wider calves, these may not be the best option as they can be difficult to put on and remove.
Overall, the clear winner among these options is the Nike Mercurial Lite Shin Guards. This pair offers protection while still being breathable enough to use in a heated soccer game. The other pairs of shin guards are good options, but the Nike Mercurial Lite Shin Guards come out on top by offering individual left- and right-leg guards. The individual fit is much more comfortable, and in a wide range of sizes, most people will be able to find their fit. With a solid pair of shin guards, soccer players can play harder, and this pair offers the protection needed.
With that being said, I am slowly converting to the G-Form Pro-S Vento Shin Guards as my regular pair of guards.