With feet flying, some protection is necessary, especially around the lower legs. This is why soccer players always wear shin guards. In fact, in any organized leagues, shin guards are mandatory. Learn the ins and outs of sizing up your shin guards here.
Shin guards deflect and absorb the impact of an accidental kick to the chins - incidental contact that is part and parcel of the sport. Worn underneath soccer socks, shin guards should in no way impede your ability to run and kick.
Materials Depending on your skill, level style of play and personal preference for shin protection, there are ample materials to choose from for shin guards:
Fiberglass - lightweight; quite stiff; offers excellent protection. Suitable for younger players who need enhanced protection from possible kicks in a lightweight, kid-friendly package. Forwards and goaltenders, with their need for nimble mobility, may also prefer the very lightweight protection offered by this material.
Foam rubber - lightweight; pliable; offers less protection but enhanced comfort. Ideal for mid-fielders who need a comfortable lightweight shin guard with moderate protection from kicks.
Polyurethane - slightly heavier than foam rubber; somewhat stiff; offers extreme protection. This type of shin guard is ideal for defensemen who often bear the brunt of hard kicks to the shin.
Plastic - hard and stiff; less protective. A budget-friendly shin guard material for recreational players.
Most shin guards have EVA foam or a synthetic Lycra backing for comfort against the skin and to assist in moisture management.
Shin guards may have Velcro or hook and loop straps to affix the guard to the lower leg and/or foot. Others are simply tucked into the sock and held in place over the shin that way.
Ankle protection To offer protection to the entirety of the lower leg, the part of the body most likely to take an accidental kick, shin guards also offer ankle protection. The shin guard material extends down toward the foot, providing a protective barrier around the delicate ankle joint and Achilles tendon. Ankle protectors are designed to allow full range of motion and mobility through the joint, so as not to impede running. Fit It is essential that your shin guards fit properly so as to offer optimal protection, mobility and comfort. Lengthwise, they should cover the front of the leg, from inches below the knee down to the top of the foot. Basic shin guards from mot manufacturers come in a few sizes; it's best to try them on to be sure that you're selecting the appropriate size, rather than simply relying on the sizing listed on the packaging. Custom shin guards can be heat-molded to fit a player's leg. Before you commit to buying, be sure to try shin guards on with your socks and cleats to ensure a great fit between all of your essential soccer gear.