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Why Wear Shin Guards?

The first important reason to wear shin pads in organised play is that the rules typically require it. FIFA, the world governing body for soccer, requires players to wear shin guards while playing. This ruling has been adopted widely even at the grassroots level. If that isn’t convincing enough, the shins are also one of the most likely body parts to be hit in a tackle. Because the shin bone has almost nothing in the way of muscle or fat covering it, getting kicked in the shin really hurts. It’s also quite likely to cause a bone bruise.

Shin Guard Design

According to FIFA’s rules, shin pads have to meet three standards. They must be made from rubber, plastic or a similar material, they have to be covered entirely by the wearer’s soccer socks and they have to provide a reasonable level of protection. Rubber and plastic shin pads are popular, but manufacturers also use some other materials like EVA foam and carbon fibre. For size, the usual recommendation is that the top of the shin guard should extend from just above the bend in the ankle to 3 to 5 cm below the knee, but some pro players wear much smaller guards to avoid restriction on their movements.

Shin Guard Styles

Slip-in shin guards are the simplest and usually the lightest as well. As the name suggests, they just slip down the front of the sock. Either the sock is tight enough to hold them in place or they can be worn with tape or an elastic sleeve for extra security. Other shin guards come with their own built-in compression sleeve or straps to attach it to the leg. Players who want extra protection can wear an ankle shin guard, which includes extra padding around the ankle. The ankle section can be permanently attached to the shin guard or it can be removable. Sprained ankles are one of the most common injuries in soccer, so an ankle guard is a good insurance policy. However, all that extra padding can restrict movement and it may be a tight squeeze to get it into your soccer boots.

Shin Pads and Positions

The best type of shin pads for you can depend a lot on the position you play. Goalkeepers still have to wear shin pads under the rules, but they are unlikely to be tackled often and a bulky shin pad can get in the way of a diving save. Speedy forwards and wingers also usually prefer smaller pads to stay light on their feet. Defenders, on the other hand, often wear heavier shin pads with ankle protection: crunching tackles can hurt even when you’re the one doing the crunching.

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