Best Soccer Shin Guards 2019

Shin Guards
Soccer shin guards, Football guards, or sometimes just referred to as “Guards”, are all a soccer player has to protect themselves. Unlike American Football players that wear helmets, shoulder pads, thigh pads, knee pads, and even elbow pads, the soccer player is left with this small but critical piece of equipment. 


Since all you have a shin guards, it’s important to equip the player with the best ones possible. The guards should do two very important things for the player. The player should feel comfortable while wearing them and the guards should be able to protect the player. 

Getting to this point where both goals are met may take some time. With this shin guards guide, you can make a better decision on what type of shin guards to purchase, wear, and protect those shins!

Are Shin Guards Required

It wasn’t until 1990 when FIFA restructured Law 4 of the FIFA code for player equipment. The law states shin guards must provide “a reasonable degree of protection.” There is a lot of room for interpretation here, so match officials are instructed to look at player’s gear before matches to see that shin guards are worn. 

Looking more closely at the assortment of shin guards of youth and pro soccer players around the country, it is clear that size is unregulated and unimportant. Unlike the type of material, the size of the shin guard does not appear to concern FIFA or other organizations. 

In our experience, the emphasis on shin guards is much larger in the youth stages of soccer. Young teams between U5 and u10 will line up in front of the referee and tap on their shin guards. This is a test for the referee and a reminder to the young player to wear their guards.

However as the kids get older, this habit dies quick as the kids feel this is unnecessary and referees don’t want to bother. By the time kids are 14 or older they are expected to know and understand the reason shin guards are required. 

Shin Guards History

So how did shin guards make it into the game anyway? It is said that shin guards made their way into soccer in the early days of organized football in the UK. As early as 1874, players were already concerned about their shins and ankles, thus the shin guards were brought over from the sport of cricket. 

Players knew that to protect their shins and livelihood, they had to wear some type of protection and there was never a mandatory rule. Over time, when astro turf was introduced as a playing field and players started wearing indoor soccer shoes instead of cleats. Since there was no FIFA rule requiring guards before 1990, some players stopped using them since they did not fear soccer cleats anymore.

High School Soccer Shin Guards

Since 2008, the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) has required all high school soccer players to wear shinguards approved by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE). However the same issues occur with HS soccer, the size of the shin guard mostly goes unnoticed and unregulated. 

In our experience, the referee will normally head over to the coach and ask if the players are all fully and properly equipped. It is then left up to the coach to ensure that the players are wearing appropriate shin guards. 

NOCSAE does require the manufacturer to write this statement on the shin guard:

WARNING DO NOT USE THIS SHIN GUARD IF THE SHELL IS CRACKED OR DEFORMED. NO SHIN GUARD CAN PROTECT AGAINST ALL FORESEEABLE IMPACTS. SEVERE INJURY MAY OCCUR TO YOU DESPITE USING THIS GUARD. DANGEROUS PLAY IS AGAINST THE RULES OF SOCCER.

Soccer Shin Guard Brands

There are numerous soccer shin guards available on the market today. From the largest soccer brands in the world to soccer specific brands, shin guards are widely available. Although the likes of Adidas, Nike, Puma, Under Armour, and make the most shin guards, there are some smaller companies making great shin guards using a different technology, like the G-Form company. 

  • PUMA
  • NIKE
  • ADIDAS
  • UNDER ARMOUR

Soccer Shin Guards Sizes

There are no standard shin guard sizes. The recommendation is that you review the specific manufacturers sizing chart. The reason is that the size of the guards differ between manufacturers. 

However, most entry level youth soccer players and their parents choose the shin guards with ankle supports as well. This way the child is covered from shins to ankles. Most kids don’t complain when they first start playing. 

Most older youth players and adults choose to play with the sleeve shin guards or shin guards with straps. These offer less protection, however the player feels less restricted since the guards are minimal in size and don’t provide adequate protection. By this time the player cares more about looks than actual safety. 

Types of Soccer Shin Guards

Slip On Shin Guards

Slip on shin guards offer the least amount of protection. They are convenient and lightweight for the player looking for those features. The slip on has the shin guard in a sleeve. Sometimes the guard is sewn into the sleeve. It is very similar to just having shin guards and buying a sleeve to wear. The slip on shin pads are still critical in protecting players, so make sure you use the correct size. 

Ankle Support Shin Guards

Ankle support shin guards are the most widely used by youth soccer players. and probably the best shin guards for youth soccer players. This is because they offer the most support. However they can be uncomfortable for older players as they start to shed equipment and look for ways to get lighter and faster. 

The ankle support will make the player look and feel bulky, which young kids won’t care since it’s mom and dad making the decision. Older kids prefer to lose the ankle protection. 

Sleeve Guards 

Sleeve Guards are shin guards that are purchased along with a sleeve. To be honest, the sleeve will mostly get worn out and you will end up tossing it out. Sometimes the players forget to take the sleeves…….. Yes we are guilty… 🙂 

The sleeves offer some support for the guards under the sock, but the majority of older youth and adult players choose to eliminate the sleeves completely and just use the sock for holding the shin guard. This can be problematic if the sock is too loose, and won’t hold the shin guard. The shin guard will be moving all over the place and won’t be in place when needed. 

Shin Guards with Straps 

Shin guards with straps are similar to the sleeve guards, however the straps solve the issue of missing sleeves or loose socks. Since the soccer guards have straps to hold it in place, you no longer have to worry about the sleeves or the shin guard moving out of place. 

The drawback to the straps shin guards is that they don’t offer ankle support and the straps can and will create a “bulky” look and feel in the player. 

The majority of professional soccer players opt for using the Sleeve Guards or just loose guards under their socks. They were the highest premium socks on the market, so they don’t worry about the guards moving. 

Carbon Fiber Shin Guards

In the past two decades, shin guards manufacturers have started using carbon fiber to make some of the most expensive soccer shin guards ever. Carbon fiber made shin guards are expensive because of the cost of carbon fiber and the very intricate and time consuming process required to make the fibers.

It’s much less complicated to make plastic or a hard shell and form it into a guard. Carbon fiber shin guards are popular because they have several advantages over competitors including high stiffness, high tensile strength, and lighter weight.

CL CARBONLIFE Carbon Fiber Shin Guard

  • STRONG--The shin guard is made by pressing 3 layers of Carbon fiber reinforced Neoprene together.
  • THIN--1mm of carbon fiber gives as much protection as 20mm of plastic. 
  • LIGHT- carbon fiber is light, 35 to 52 grams depending on size
  • Handmade

Best Youth Soccer Shin Guards with Ankle Support 

As mentioned earlier, the ankle support is a good idea for the younger players. We recommend that as a parent you encourage the kids to wear ankle guards for as long as they can tolerate them.

They do get bulky and uncomfortable as the kids get older and search for a more free and lightweight shin guard. But to start, get your kids shin guards with ankle guards to ensure they are protected. 

The NIKE Youth Charge 2.0 Soccer Shin Guard is a great choice to get started with ankle shin guards. Offers protection, comfort, and great fit. 

Sportout Kids Youth Soccer Shin Guards

  • COMPREHENSIVE SHIN PROTECTION: Include highly protective, lightweight, and hard PP front plates.
  • ERGONOMIC DESIGN: The design fits the calf contours very well. The thick EVA foam offers an excellent cushion which helps disperse energy from kicks. 
  • COMFORTABLE: The light EVA padded backing and simple construct give these shin guards high breathability and a great fit for  your leg shape.
  • STAY IN PLACE: The front velcro closure system allows the shin guards to stay in place during play without sliding.

Nike Mercurial Lite Shin Guard

One of the most popular shin guards on the market. We have this pair of shin guards and they are comfortable, lightweight, and really nice looking.  The sleeves are Dri-FIT for superb comfort and a secure fit. They are also very durable and were lost at about 7 months old, before they wore out. 

  • Anatomical design fits your shins for targeted cushioning
  • To protect against impacts, Nike uses a Molded, Waffle-designed EVA foam
  • Numerous designs and colors to fit your child's look and style

Adidas Performance Ghost Pro Shin Guards

Adidas offers the same concept as Nike. Great fit. Durable and comfortable sleeves which feel as if you are not wearing them, reduces bulkiness. Made from 95% polypropylene / 5% TPU injection-molded. 

  • EVA backing offers a high comfort and durable cushion
  • NOCSAE SEI-certified packaging logo to meet HS standards

G-Form Pro S Compact Shin Guard

One of the biggest advances in technology since the carbon fiber introduction to shin guards is the G-Form shin pad. The G-Form offers several distinct advantages over the competitors. The  G-Form patented RPT padding is very soft and flexible, but hardens on impact. The flexibility offered is second to none. 

This technology, along with the shin guard sleeve, vastly improves the comfort and fit of the G-Form shin guard. Wearing some of these compact shin guards makes you feel like robocop. 

  • CERTIFIED: Meets NOCSAE and CE standards for play throughout the USA and EU
  • EASY CARE: Machine washable - no more smelly shin guards!
  • Offer Seveveral colors and sizes to meet your style and needs. 

Storelli BodyShield Protective Shin Guards

Another generally new technology and design in shin guards is the Storelli BodyShield. The difference in this one is that it offers lower leg, including calf, shin, and ankle protections. 

This is a great alternative to adult or youth players who don't like the bulky feel of the shin guards with ankle supports. This one is an even better choice because it also offers protection in the calfs and back of the leg and reduces the bulky feel. 

  • ARMORED SHIN GUARD HOLDERS: Armored with flexible but heavy-duty 3mm XRD Extreme Impact Protection padding 
  • FITS MOST SHIN GUARDS (NOT INCLUDED): featuring built-in shin guard pockets that hold guards in place
  • BREATHABLE AND SWEAT WICKING: Employs lightweight materials that wick moisture away from the body to ensure maximal breathability. 

Franklin Soccer Shin Guards with Straps

If you are going to buy guards with straps, we recommend going with the two straps shin guards. The reason is that in our experience, using only one strap will still allow the shin guard to move and you are having to readjust throughout the game. 

  • Lightweight 
  • High density abrasion resistant shield
  • High density foam backing
  • Offer 3 different sizes for kids.

Soccer Sock with Shin Guard Combo Adidas

Well if you don't like the sleeves and you hate the ankle guards, then adidas has a solution for you. The Adidas Soccer Sock with Shin Guards offers the best of both worlds. A great soccer sock paired with your shin guards. The best part is that the sock has a sleeve built in. So you no longer have to worry about your kids losing the sleeves like it happens in our house constantly. 

The drawback to using the soccer sock with a sleeve is that if your team uses a different color, you may be out of choices. So make sure that you wait until you find out what colors your team will wear before investing in these soccer socks with shin guards.

The other problem is that you may only be able to use them for one season, if your team changes colors. Not to worry because you can still use them for practice, unless your team has some lame rule about sock colors during practice. 

Shin Guard Stays from Nike

An alternative to shin guard sleeves is a shin Guard Stay. These are velcro elastic thick bands that help the player keep the shin guard shells in place. These are and ideal choice when the player doesn't have tight socks that stay.

The Shin Guard Stays will keep the guards from moving, but in our experience there is still some movement. Kind of like using only one strap on the shin guards. This also reduces the use of athletic tape, which kids like to use. 

  • Size One Size Fits All
  • Reusable, unlike tape
  • Offers several different colors

Athletic Tape for Shin Guards

Many players prefer to rely and use athletic tape to hold their shin guard shells. The players are opting for a tight fit and reduced bulk on their feet. The reason for this is that soccer is all about quick feet, so the lighter they are and feel, the better they can perform. 

To reduce the amount of tape being used, you can purchase some Shin Guard Stays. Go to any youth or adult soccer game and you will hear someone ask "does anyone have tape" at least once before the start of each game! 

Conclusion

Since FIFAs ruling in 1990, shin guards became a mandatory equipment for all soccer players. With this rule, players are required to wear something to protect their ankles. The refs will rarely check, but your main concern should be your safety. 

For soccer players, the question is Safety, Style, or Comfort? No shin guard has yet to provide all 3 at the same time, but that's objective. We feel the Storelli has definitely provided a unique style, great comfort, and probably the most safest. However this may be cheating since the Storelli is not actually a shin guard, lol, the sleeves don't include shin guards!!! But you can purchase those seperate and complete your package. 

The majority of players will ultimately opt for just the single shell shin guard without a sleeve. They will then purchase a great pair of premium socks to hold the shin guards tight and comfortably. This will reduce the bulkyness and make the player feel lighter. There is just nothing lighter than "nothing". And players will always prefer less, so if they can get away with extras, they will. 

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