Some see the shin guard as a “ceremonial” piece of safety equipment. Others see the shin guard as an essential component of player safety during practice and play. In most circumstances, the shin guard is just as important to the uniform of a player as their cleats, socks, or jersey kit happens to be.
Finding the best shin guards for soccer means looking for the right size and shape for the player’s position. Comfort, control, and other factors can also come into play.
The Best Chart for Shin Guards
Did you know that virtually all shin guards are actually formed from the measurements and shaping of professional players? Because of this, you’ll find that different brands and even different types of shin guards from the same brand have unique fits.
|DashSport Soccer Shin Guards|| 4.8 ||Youth|| $$ |
|adidas Ghost Pro Shin Guard|| 4.3 ||Adult|| $$$$ |
|Vizari Malaga Shin Guard|| 4.4 ||Adult|| $$ |
|Nike Mercurial Lite Soccer Shin Guard|| 4.3 ||Adult|| $$$$$ |
|Elemart Soccer Shin Guards|| 4.3 ||Youth|| $ |
|Nike J Guards|| 4.4 ||Adult|| $$ |
|adidas Ghost Club Shin Guard|| 4.0 ||Adult|| $$$ |
|Franklin Sports Superlight Shin Guards|| 4.2 ||Adult|| $$ |
|Venum Predator Standup Shinguards|| 4.4 ||Adult|| $$$$$+ |
|Adidas 11 Lesto Shin Guards|| 4.0 ||Youth|| $ |
What Is a Shin Guard and Why Do I Need One?
Shin guards are a protective feature that can reduce the amount of impact the shin bone receives during a kick or tackle. Most shin guards aren’t going to reduce the pain of such an encounter, but they will provide a certain amount of armor that can help to prevent an injury.
The modern shin guard offers this protection through the use of a shield plate on the front of the equipment. This is the primary component of this shin guard and it is responsible for a majority of the protection that a player receives. The modern shield plate is usually made from a carbon fiber composite or a hard plastic.
Shin guards will also usually come equipped with some sort of backing that is supportive of the shield plate. A light cushioning foam is often used to help eliminate discomfort while the equipment is being worn. The backing also helps to reduce some of the impact that a player receives during a tackle or stray kick into the shin.
Some shin guards also come equipped with a closure. Although not as common as they once were, you’ll find adjustable straps, tape, or sleeves can hold the shin guard in place underneath the soccer sock. Some players may prefer to use the sock itself as the closure for their shin guard.
How Shin Guards Are Worn Today
If you strapped up some shin guards in the past to play some soccer, then you’re not alone. For an entire generation, the best shin guards you could purchase had upper and lower straps that wrapped around your leg. You could wear the shin guards inside or outside of your soccer sock.
Today’s shin guards are a little different. The most common type of shin guard that you’ll find is called a “slip in” shin guard. This option offers players a light shield that is placed underneath the soccer sock. You’ll usually be offered a compression sleeve to make sure that the shin guard stays in place during practice or play.
You cannot use slip-in shin guards without some type of support component since they do not have stirrups, straps, or tape.
A second type of shin guard that is available is referred to as an “ankle shin guard.” It’s an extended design that offers players an additional level of ankle protection in addition to the shin protection they need. This type of guard puts soft padding on both sides of the ankle to protect against a rogue kick.
Ankle shin guards are also useful for added joint support and structure for players who have a history of ankle injuries.
An important note: You can extend the life of your new shin guards by keeping them clean. After every practice or game, make sure to use soap and water to clean them thoroughly. Include some baking soda to prevent odors. Do not place your new shin guards into the washing machine unless the brand and product directly specify that this is okay to do.
And even if they say its fine, if your shin guards do have adjustable straps, you’ll still want to wash them by hand instead of sticking them into the washing machine. Trust me on this.
Sizing for Today’s Shin Guards
You’ll find sizing typically comes from either a specific measurement or a specific age for the wearer. Since not every player fits into a standardized size, here is a quick sizing chart to reference as you shop around for the best shin guards for soccer that meet your needs.
- Extra Small. XS shin guards are usually intended for children 6-9 years of age who are 4’6” or below in height.
- Small. S shin guards are suitable for children who are 10-13 years of age. They work for kids that are between 4’7-5’3” in height. Some manufacturers may take an inch off of the top height measurement.
- Medium. There is a lot of variation in this size. Adidas indicates M shin guards are good for children 14-17 years of age who are 5’3”-5’9” in height. Nike mediums are good for children up to 5’7”. In generalized sizing, medium may be viable for kids and adults up to 5’10”.
You’ll also find Large (L) and Extra Large (XL) sizing available. These are typically intended to be worn by adult players only and have a minimum height requirement of at least 5’7”, with maximum heights being up to 6’10”.
There are also youth sizes that are offered by certain manufacturers. Nike is particularly good about labeling certain shin guards in youth sizing. You’ll find Youth Small (YS), Youth Medium (YM), and Youth Large (YL) sizes available, intended for us by U6, U9, and U12 players respectively.
Pricing Points for the Best Shin Guards
Shin guards are generally an affordable piece of soccer equipment. Many brands offer at least one pair that is priced for around $10.
Even upper-end shin guards that offer premium padding, extended sizes, or included compression sleeves are generally priced for less than $30.
Our Reviews of the Best Shin Guards for Soccer
These shin guards are excellent for youth players who need an extra level of support. They provide complete protection for the shin and the ankle, allowing for a greater level of injury protection. They are a unisex product that is flexible enough to wrap around the shin, yet still work with varying leg sizes thanks to the various size and design options that are available. Refer to the sizing guide to select the correct option today and take advantage of the 1-year no-hassle replacement guarantee that is offered for free.
These shin guards fit snuggly with their sleeve-based design, making them a suitable option for players of any age. Three different shields are fitted together to help create a high level of flexibility without compromising the level of protection that is received. The compression sleeve also provides a certain amount of warmth to the calf, which can help to prevent some cramping issues that may occur later in the game. Numerous design options are available for this shin guard, so it’s easy to find the pair that helps your game.
This is another full-shell level of protection for those soccer players who want a little extra help around the ankle. Unlike some other complete protection shin guards, there is a bit of foam backing that comes with this product, allowing for a greater level of comfort during wear. Five different colors are available in this series, with the lightweight design useful as a unisex option for shin protection. Sizing is accurate, the shin guards are fairly lightweight, and the remain in place under regular play conditions.
Sometimes you want to wear slip-in shin guards so you can minimize the impact that the protective equipment has on your game. What’s nice about this set is that you receive the low profile design you want, but a compression sleeve is also included so you don’t need to rely on your socks to keep the guards in place. These shin guards are contoured so they are leg-specific and meet all NOCSAE standards for advanced competitive play. Two design options are available for your personal preference. These are one of the lightest shin guards that you’ll find right now.
These youth shin guards offer a deeper padding than some competitive models, giving kids more of an impact resistance along their legs. A direct impact will still cause a sting, but it won’t put a youth player into tears thanks to this unique design. A 3D ergonomic shaping process allows for a better fit along the curvature of the leg as well, giving you one of the best options for shin protection that youth soccer players have today at this price point. These shin guards are available in both blue and black.
If all you’re looking for in a pair of shin guards is a pair of lightweight slip-in guards, then you’ll enjoy what this set can provide. They get all of the basics right, including adding a certain level of breathability to the leg. Instead of being one solid piece of plastic with padding, there are holes built into the protection allowing for more heat to escape through the sock. They stay in place underneath the sock pretty well, though a strong tackle is likely to dislodge them. It’s a good value purchase worth considering.
This specific part of the Ghost guard collection by Adidas extends the protection of the shin guard down to the ankle. It’s a full-sized shin guard that is perfect for defenders, especially with the hard shield front plate that reduces the impact of a opposing player’s cleat with relative ease. The hook and loop strap closure is comfortable, though it does tend to move a little in the later portions of the game when a leg is extra sweating. The soft EVA backing helps to provide extra cushioning when needed in the most sensitive areas. Easily one of the best shin guards for soccer you can grab today.
This extremely lightweight shin guards are so good at what they do that it’s hard to remember that they’re even there. You can use them as a slip-in guard if you wish or you can take advantage of the back straps for a fit that is more secure. The contouring of the shin guard works for most players, with multiple size options available for youth to adult players. If you’re on a tight budget and need effective soccer protective equipment, you’ll want to put these shin guards at the top of your list.
These shin guards might be intended for martial arts, but they double up very well as an effective soccer shin guard. It is a full wrap-around guard that provides an extensive level of protection around the shin, ankle, and the top of the foot. Although it may not be suitable for all soccer players, those who have experienced a difficult injury in the past can get back out on the pitch with this equipment support. Check with local league rules before wearing them to make sure this investment can work for you.
These slip-in shin guards are part of the Polar Guard collection and feature soft, durable EVA protection for an excellent level of support. Sizing ranges from youth to adult. Synthetic lining helps to enhance the amount of comfort these shin guards are able to provide. They work with a majority of the socks that are on the market today and offer a professional quality experience for a budget-friendly price. You’ll need a sleeve or tape to properly secure these shin guards, but their price is something that can’t be ignored.
The best shin guards for soccer might be treated as ceremonial equipment by some, but their value cannot be denied. They reduce the sting of an impact and can protect the growing legs of youth players. Pick up the set that makes the most sense for you and then get out and play some soccer today.