Sportarly

Sportarly is a site supported by readers. We use affiliate links which means that we make a small commission if you purchase something from Amazon after clicking on one of our links. Learn how we keep our buyers guides and review lists objective here.

How to Buy The Best Soccer Shin Guards (With Top 10 List)

Soccer is a great game, but it doesn’t come without risks. Contact is an expected part of any competitive game and injuries are common. Whether you are playing as a hobbyist or a pro, you need to protect your shins and legs. After all, they are at the most risk of contact with opposing players knees and boots. The best soccer shin guards offer significant protection and can greatly reduce the risk of injury. Find out how to buy the best ones below.

This article aims to first identify what to look for in a great pair of shin pads, before listing some of the best ones we found after extensive research.

Selecting The Best Shin Guards

Best soccer shin guards.

In order to select the best shin guards, you need to take into account your own experience and level of skill. For younger players, you also need to consider their age, height and size. Of course, your decision will also depend on price and you will no doubt have a rough budget in mind already.

The first part of finding the best soccer shin guards is knowing the different types and styles available to you.

Types of Soccer Shin Guards

In amateur and professional soccer, you will find three types of shin pads commonly worn.

Slip-in Shin Guards

As the name suggests, this kind of shin guard is easy to get in to, flexible and lightweight. They are most often used by professional players who are open to more risk (in the event of a collision or foul tackle). Such players are also more capable of keeping their legs out of the way even in challenging runs down the field. Perhaps most importantly, they don’t limit the players range of motion or movement, a vital factor for intermediate and high-level players.

Ankle Shin Protectors

The ankle pad style of shin guards are great for protecting the lower legs and even your ankles. They are made of strong, solid plastic with padding on the inside to cushion your shin bone and upper ankles. They are usually secured using a velcro or elastic strap that wraps around the back of the leg and foot. These could be a good option for beginners to intermediate players where the risk of foul tackles, trips and collisions is higher.

Sock-Style Shin Guards

Perhaps the rarest and least popular kind of shin guard, the sock-styles are affordable, lightweight and easy to put and keep on. They are generally used by kids and younger, less experienced players where convenience and comfort is the top priority. At this age, other players also shouldn’t have the strength, technique or size to cause any serious injuries to the shins should they collide in the match or training session.

With Sleeves, or Without?

When looking for the best shin guards for you or your child, you really have two options – with sleeves or without. The sleeves offer added protection and ankle support so it is recommended that players under the age of 10 always wear sleeves and guards with ankle support (the more inexperienced the players are, the higher the chance of stray kicks after all). Their ankles are also more prone to damage at this delicate age. If you are older and/or more experienced, you might not need solid pads and ankle support,

As a more experienced and older player, you can choose to use slip-in shin guards instead. These tend to be lighter, more affordable and more comfortable, although they don’t offer the same ankle protection.

Types of Soccer Shin Guard Designs

The same way that there are different types of shin guards available, there are also different shin guard designs available to buy.

Shin Shields

A shin shield, as the name suggests, is designed with shin protection in mind. They feature a solid outer layer, with several inner layers for maximum protection and shock absorption. They are a good option for deflecting impact when the shin suffers a direct hit (be that from the ball, the ground, another players boot and/or spikes or studs). How strong, effective and durable the shin guards are will depend on what they are made out of and how they are constructed. These are one of the best options for most athletes.

Wand Style Shin Pads

Slightly more authentic and traditional, the wand system uses hard, hollow wands down the shins. They are good for absorbing, spreading and deflecting impact to the shins. Inner padding made from fabrics and/or foam is also common for extra cushioning and comfort.

OSi Shin Guards

Finally, you might find Osi shin guards (although they are far less common on the amateur, hobbyist and/or 5-a-side field).The guard molds to the players shin making for a significantly more comfortable fit, with more effective protection too. This custom fit and molding process does however mean that they are usually more expensive. They are usually made from a fiberglass material and these days tend to be sported by professional soccer players.

What To Look For in Your Shin Guards

Besides the types and styles of shin guards, there are several other things that you can look for when it comes to buying the best soccer shin guards. Below we go into more detail on what things you can look out for.

Materials

The material(s) that your shin guards are made out of is incredibly important as it is directly related to how effective, reliable, comfortable and durable they will be. The material can also effect how much the guards cost. Below we offer more details on some of the most commonly used materials for high-quality shin protectors.

Fiberglass

Fiberglass is an excellent material for shin guards because it is solid, strong, long-lasting and lightweight. It is used by professionals and amateurs alike because of the reliable shin protection that it offers. Fiberglass is so strong though that it can limit movement, it is also more expensive than other materials. Still, if you want a pair of shin guards that will allow you to play aggressively without worry of injury, Fiberglass can be a great option.

Foam Rubber

Foam rubber is notoriously lightweight and is great for ensuring you keep a full range of motion. They can also be considerably more comfortable than Fiberglass options however, they do offer less shin and ankle protection. Foam rubber is also more likely to be damaged and doesn’t always last as long as alternative materials. All in all, they are a good option for those looking for good protection at an affordable price.

Plastic

Plastic offers more protection and strength than foam rubber materials. However, plastic guards are not the most comfortable. The main positive of plastic shin guards is that they are considerably cheaper.

Polyurethane

Polyurethane shin guards are amongst the strongest ones available. They also happen to be the heaviest and often most uncomfortable. If you are looking for more protection than comfort, these are the best option.

Sizing & Fit

The size and fit of your shin guards is almost as important as the materials used to construct them. If the guards are too large or too small, they won’t cover the areas that they need to, might slip down mid game and need constant adjustment, and/or provide adequate protection to all of the areas that they need to.

Your shin guards should sit 1-inch from the top of your football/soccer boots, and no more than 2 inches below your knees. Most products will include a size guide alongside the description to help you fit them more accurately based on your height and age. The below details provide some good rules of thumb when it comes to sizing your shin shields:

  • Extra Small: Good for kids between the ages of 6 and 9 who are 4’6″ or smaller.
  • Small: Suitable for children between the ages of 10 and 12, smaller than 5′ 3″.
  • Medium: The medium size will depend on which brand is selling the shin guards you are looking to buy. Most are for teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 years old.
  • Large and Extra Large: For adults, tall and advanced players (5’7″ or taller).

For best results, grab a tape measure and get your personal measurements (or the measurements of your child). Once you have your measurements, consult the product page and/or packaging to determine exactly which size will be most comfortable and effective

Keep in mind that the best soccer shin guards will cover your whole shin. Any kicks or strikes (from other players or the ball) should hit the shin guard and not your skin.

How to Wear Your Shin Guards

If you intend on playing in tournaments or competitive soccer matches or leagues, shin guards are necessary. Even in practise, you should wear shin guards whenever possible. Simply put, the second you step foot on a soccer field, you are at risk of your shins being kicked, hit or struck. Guards provide the protection you need to minimize injuries. The best shin guards in the world are only as good as how you wear them. Failure to put them on properly could lead to accidental injuries. So, read the details below to learn how to wear shin guards properly.

First, make sure that you are placing your shin guards correctly on the legs and shins. Place the shin guards on the middle of your shin (on the front side), and wrap the strap round them before securing them with the velcro closure. You can then pull your footie socks over the shin pads for added style and comfort.

Top 10 Best Soccer Shin Guards

1. Nike Mercurial Lite Shin Guards

*Details last updated on 2021-06-20

Material

These shin guards have two distinct layers, with the outer layer consisting of rigid and stiff plastic. The inner layer is a thin and flexible foam made of 79% K resin and 23% EVA resin.

The inner foam keeps the guards dry due to the moisture-wicking property of the resin foam. As a result, the guard dries quickly and works perfectly for wet or humid days.

Size and Style

The outer plastic comes in various vibrant hue patterns, e.g., black, crimson, magenta, etc. The guards comprise holes cut out to minimize the weight and to make the padding breathable.

The product comes with sleeves to hold the guards in place, which are also breathable.

2. Adidas Performance Ghost Pro Shin Guards

*Details last updated on 2021-06-20

Material

These guards have three different shield layers: the outermost is a separate plate for a perfect fit, followed by a layer of 95% polypropylene and 5% TPU injection-molded plastic layering. 

The innermost layer consists of EVA padding that provides extra thickness and durability against hard tackles during soccer games.

Size and Style

The color collection is vast: the most popular choices include black, red, and aqua blue colored guards.

The outermost plate comes with hinges that help the guard mold to the leg, making them sit more comfortably around the shins.

3. Vizari Malaga Soccer Shin Guards for Kids

*Details last updated on 2021-06-20

Material

High-quality polypropylene plastic forms the outer layer of these guards to make them extra sturdy. The inner layer foam is not only comfortable, but it also has a hard shell at the back to provide additional protection.

Size and Style

You can choose from a variety of colors, as many as 18 different ones. The most sought-after colors include blue, yellow, neon-green, and black. There is a flexible range of ten adjustable sizes starting from XXS, going up to adult large.

4. ProForce Shin Guards

Sale
ProForce Shin Guards
1,105 Reviews

*Details last updated on 2021-06-20

Material

Their unique cloth design offers more protection than an average shin guard. The inner layer is relatively thin, making the guards less bulky. Being sleeveless makes these guards cover a more significant amount of shin area, ankles, and part of the knees.

The paddings can come off quickly, so you can easily disassemble them. You can machine wash them without hassle, making these some of the best soccer shin guards for anyone who gets messy on the field.

Size and Style

These guards are designed for beginners, so if your kid is trying their first tryouts, go with ProForce Shin Guards. There are many sizes available, even for adults, so anyone can quickly get their fit. The paddings provide shin splits, but they also pull more blood to the calves, maximizing the performance.

You can get these guards in black and white colors.

5. Sportout Adult & Youth Shin Guards

*Details last updated on 2021-06-20

Material

The outer layer is polypropylene plates, and the inner layer is of EVA foam. These guards are machine washable; the material does not wear out after multiple washes.

Since these guards get designed for professional soccer players, these guards are better shock-absorbers. Its Dri-FIT double tube construction sleeves lock the guards in place.

Size and Style

They have a sleek and straightforward look in a classic black color, which blends in with any colored uniform.

6. Franklin Sports Superlight Soccer Shin Guards

*Details last updated on 2021-06-20

Material

It is surprisingly light in weight, despite having hard-plastic outer padding. The hard plastic makes these guards high-density abrasion resistant to prevent burn injuries if they trip and skid.

Size and Style

The design and style of this product are chrome-accented, which makes it anatomical fit. Due to its wider body design, athletes with thicker shins prefer to buy these.

7. DashSport Soccer Shin Guards

*Details last updated on 2021-06-20

Material

These guards are made up of endurable high-quality plastic and foam. They also have Velcro ankle sleeves that you cannot remove. These sleeves go all the way around the calves and attach to the side of the leg, which helps prevent shin splints and increase muscle endurance.

Size and Style

They come in various sizes and colors. Their style is a slip-n-fit design where young players can quickly wear them at any time. The design makes it a perfect snug-fit for soccer players.

8. Zone 14 Carbon Guard 33

*Details last updated on 2021-06-20

Material

The outer layer is fiberglass and carbon, 67% and 33% respectively, making it unique and different from many polypropylene-built guards. Fiberglass build makes them lighter in weight. Carbon fibers make the product’s central spine, which increases stability and offers better deflection for incoming impacts.

The inner layer is EVA foam, which makes it comfortable to wear for longer periods.

Size and Style

The design is a unique, reinforced beam construction that increases comfort and safety during rough play. These guards come in a single black color. 

With the guards come Lycra compression sleeves with a slip-in pouch to keep the guards in place. They are also extremely comfortable to strap on.

9. PUMA ONE Soccer Shin Guards with Sleeves

*Details last updated on 2021-06-20

Material

These guards have EVA foam for the inner padding, and the outer layer is made from K resin polypropylene plates. These guards are lightweight and designed to give a dynamic high-impact slip guard to ensure that the soccer players stay safe during a game.

Size and Style

These guards come in a variety of sizes and colors. Most popular color choices include white, red-black blast, and green. There is an elasticated compression sleeve that comes with a product, and it has an internal pocket.

10. Nike J Shin Protectors

*Details last updated on 2021-06-20

Material

Nike J Shin Protectors have outer padding of thin plastic and inner padding of a thin layer of 80% polyethylene and 20% EVA. 

Size and Style

The protectors come with no sleeves, but they are designed so that you can easily fit them over your shin guards for further protection. These weigh about 1.6 ounces and are built with the signature Nike hole cut out design. This design ensures maximum breathability.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best material for shin guards?

Each material has its own positives and negatives and, to a large extent, this is a decision you will have to make with your personal experiences, preferences and prioritise in mind.

If you want something cheap and light weight, go with a plastic shin guard. If, on the other hand, you want something that is much stronger and well fitted, go with a fiberglass option.

What size do I need?

This will depend on how tall and old you are. Younger, shorter players will need a smaller size and adults should go with a large. Teenagers should go with a small or medium sized guard.

How do you keep them in place?

Providing you have bought the correct size, you should not have any issues keeping your shin guards in place. You can then pull your socks over the guards to keep them even more comfortably in place. You can even purchase additional, external straps for your guards if you still struggle to keep them in place.

Do goalies/goalkeepers still wear shin guards?

Yes, goalkeepers are still at risk of kicks and strikes from the ball. They should wear shin guards whenever they step out on the field.

Jake Dennon

I am an avid sports enthusiast who has been fortunate enough to train with some of the best athletes and coaches in the world.

As a child, I had a keen interest in football (soccer) and regularly played with my friends and for my school. We had an ex England ace coaching us at one point and he really motivated me to make sports a big part of my life.

Moving into my teenage years I tried everything from basketball to weight lifting and everything in between. I was lucky enough to train weekly at a local tennis club who's head coach was a at one point the 9th best player in India and within the top 100 ranked players in the world.

The combat sport coaches I have been trained by have also trained some of the top fighters in the industry. All of these brilliant trainers (and all the ones in between) have shown me just how rewarding keeping fit and healthy can be.

2 comments

  • Have to say, I know that shin guards are necessary but they can be awfully uncomfortable. Any tips?

    • Hey yes they can be a bit itchy and irritating at times, especially if the sweat builds up. Try putting some coconut oil or vaseline under them pre-game and see how you get on. Always helps me!