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Shin Guards - The Essential Buying Guide

Shin guards are required equipment in every organized soccer league from tiny tots to professionals. And, anyone who has ever played the game knows why. Shin guards are a necessary piece of equipment that protect players against all types of leg-level contact, from slide tackles to wild kicks and even intentional ones. Players need protection from potential injuries, and shin guards are designed to provide just that. But, choosing the right shin guards can be a bit tricky. This guide will help you determine the right type of guards for your position, age, level of play, and preferences.

Shin Guard Styles

There are two basic types of shin guards available on the market, slip-in guards and full-length shin guards

Slip-In Shin Guards: These are the smallest and most lightweight shin guards available on the market. They are stand alone shin guards that usually come with compression sleeves. They can either be worn in a snug sock or with the included compression sleeve. Some players also prefer to use tape over their socks to keep this type of shin guard in place, This gives players the ability to determine how tight they prefer the hold. Slip-in shin guards are often preferred by more advanced players because they allow for more freedom of movement. However, they are not recommended for younger players, because they don’t provide the same level of protection that that full length shin guards with ankle guards can provide. For younger players just starting out, that added protection is crucial for protecting them from wild kicks.

Full Length Shin Guards: Full length shin guards provide the highest level of protection to the shins and ankles and are recommended for youth and even intermediate players. This type of shin guard has an elastic strap at the top and a stirrup under the foot to keep the shin guard in place. There is also extra padding around the ankle for extra protection. While some players (especially defenders) may prefer the added protection of ankle guards, many full length shin guards have removable ankle guards. This is a great option for practices or for players that have aged out needing ankle guards but aren’t quite ready for slip-in guards.

Position Preferences

Players at different positions tend to prefer different types of shin guards.

Defenders: This position tends to take a beating. So, many defenders prefer the maximum amount of protection and opt for full length shin guards with ankle guards or removable ankle guards.

Midfielders: Like their name implies, misfielders tend to prefer something in the middle. They need protection, but also require the ability to make quick moves. So, it’s a toss up between full length shin guards without the ankle guards and slip-in guards.

Forwards: This position requires quick motion and that means less weight and bulk. Slip-in shin guards are recommended and usually preferred.

Goalies: Goalkeepers need the least amount of leg-level protection and typically prefer slip-in shin guards.

Shin Guard Sizing

Shin guards are sized by a person’s height. But, each brand does tend to differ slightly. Check out the size guidelines on each product page to determine the right size before you buy.

Safety Standards

While every player participating in organized soccer must wear shin guards, there is an even higher standard for those playing high school and college soccer. The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) issues standards for all shin guards worn in high school and college games. Look for the NOCSAE stamp on shin guards that are approved for this level of play. Authentic Soccer denotes all NOCSAE approved shin guards on the product pages and in the descriptions.