Protect Those Shins!
If you have been kicked in the shin before you know it can hurt. A lot. If you have been kicked in the shin with a cleat - ouch!
The shin has almost no muscle over the bone and just a thin layer of skin and little fat to protect the tissue and nerves. Whoever designed the shin did not plan for the game of soccer.
That’s where shin guards come in! Shin guards will not guarantee a pain free kick experience, but they can go a long way towards making the experience more manageable.
Will any shin guard do? If you’re playing soccer you will certainly want to use shin guards. Most leagues and clubs require their use.
Let’s dive onto the thee main types of shin guards and some of their pros and cons:
Convenient! Shin socks look like socks and go on like socks. However shin socks have the built in padding of traditional shin guards. Shin socks are popular with youth soccer as they are easy to put on and make it simple to line up on the shin. Put on your shin socks and cleats and you are good to go.
For the high school level shin socks worn need to be approved by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE). Approved shin socks will have a NOCSAE patch on the front.
Slip-in Shin Guards
Slip-in shin guards are lightweight and portable. Just slide them right under your socks. If the socks are snug enough they slip-in shin guards will stay secure under the sock. Otherwise you may need compression socks or tape.
Generally slip-in shin guards are used with more experienced players. This type of shin guard allows for more flexibility and movement. However they can be tricky to keep secure and in the right place. Not the preferred type of shin guard for youth soccer.
Ankle Shin Guards
Ankle shin guards offer more protection and secure fit over slip-in shin guards. Generally ankle shin guards have added protection for the ankles as well. With stirrups that go under the feet and a strap or elastic band that goes around the calf, the fit is secure.
Ankle shin guards are the most common shin guard for youth soccer. The extra padding and protection with a secure fit also allow for a broad range of movement. And you can still put your team socks on over this type of shin guard!
Shin Guard Based on Position
For youth soccer the ankle shin guards or shin socks are recommended. As players get older, the position they play becomes a factor in choosing a shin guard. The amount of contact and risk a player encounters can vary based on position.
For goalies slip-in shin guards or shin socks are ideal. Goalies have less contact than other field positions.
Defenders will likely want ankle shin guards. Defensders will encounter a higher amount of contact and will appreciate the extra protection.
Forwards generally will use the slip-in shin guards or shin socks. All players on the field are looking for shin protection, however forwards also want as much mobility as possible.
Midfielders likely will go with slip-in shin guards. Midfielders do a lot of moving and the extra flexibility helps.
Regardless of what you choose - protect those shins and have fun!