Selecting Perfect Shin Guards for Youth Soccer

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As one embarks on the exciting journey of youth soccer, protective gear serves as essential elements that ensure the safety and enhance performance of your young athletes. A pair of shin guards is prominent among these items as they are a mandatory piece of equipment in most leagues. Whether your child is a burgeoning striker who flies down the field, a steadfast checker who isn’t afraid to take a ball to the shin, or an agile goalkeeper, the right shin guards are pivotal for both protection and comfort. This guide will explore different types of shin guards, providing useful insights into each one, as well as elaborate on choosing the perfect fit and understanding the role of various materials in providing comfort and durability.

Understanding Shin Guard Types

Understanding Shin Guard Types

Shin guards are an essential part of soccer gear designed to protect players from injuries. There are basically three common types of shin guards: high protection shin guards, ankle shin guards, and slip-in shin guards.

High Protection Shin Guards

High protection shin guards are crafted to offer the maximum level of protection to the players. They generally come with a heavier and sturdier design compared to other types of shin guards. These types of shin guards are suitable for players who play an aggressive game or for those who are into professional soccer where the threat of injuries is high. The tradeoff here is that they might limit mobility due to their sturdy build, so they are not the best option if the player values agility over protection.

Ankle Shin Guards

Ankle shin guards typically offer comprehensive coverage, with protection extending to the ankles. They usually consist of two parts – the guard itself and an ankle padding which is often detachable, thereby giving players the flexibility to use them as per their comfort and need. These shin guards are suitable for younger players who need extra protection or for those who play in positions that are more susceptible to tackles and injuries.

Slip-In Shin Guards

Slip-in shin guards, as the name suggests, can be slipped into the socks without the need for any straps. They are known to be lightweight and comfortable, making it a popular choice among players who prefer more mobility on the field. However, they offer less protection when compared to high protection and ankle shin guards. A typical use case for slip-in shin guards would be for players in less contact-intensive positions or levels, where speed and flexibility are more important than high-level protection.

When choosing shin guards for youth soccer, factors like the player’s position, style of play, and comfort should be considered. It’s also key to choose the correct size to ensure a good fit for effective protection. As always, consult with a coach if unsure of what type would best suit the player’s needs. Young players can also try out different types during practice sessions to figure out which shin guard type they are comfortable with and suits their playing style the best.

Right Size and Fit

Measuring Lower Leg Size

To find the perfect shin guard for your child, the first step is to measure their lower leg. Start by having your child sit down with their leg out straight. Using a measuring tape, measure the length from an inch below the knee to the top of the ankle. Be sure to keep the measuring tape parallel to the ground for a more accurate measurement. This gives you the shin size which often correlates to shin guard sizing. Note down the length for future reference when purchasing shin guards.

Choosing the Right Size Shin Guards

Shin guard sizes are typically represented in inches or age ranges. Remember that ages are simply guidelines and may not offer a perfect fit due to individual size variations. Convert the lower leg size measurement we took earlier to compare to the manufacturer’s recommended sizing. If you find that your child’s measurements are in between sizes, consider going for the larger size for comfort and potential growth room.

Proper Fitting Shin Guards

Shin guards should cover the area from the ankle to below the knee, leaving few inches of space to accommodate the soccer socks. They should be tight enough that they won’t move around during a game, but not so tight that they inhibit movement or cause discomfort. The comfort point is crucial, as an uncomfortable guard may distract the child during the game.

Importance of Proper Fitting

Proper fitting doesn’t just ensure comfort but also provides efficient protection. A well-fitted shin guard stays in place, covering the shins adequately during movement and high impact. Shin guards that shift or are too small expose parts of the shin to potential injuries. Choose the right shin guard with a secure but not-too-tight strap system, ensuring it won’t move during the game and provides the maximum protection your child requires.

Trying Before Buying

If possible, try on shin guards before buying or ensure the store has a return policy. This lets your child get a feel for their comfort and fit. Allowing your player to participate in this process ensures a comfortable fit and the chance they will more likely wear them correctly and take safety more seriously.

Material and Comfort

Understanding Materials in Shin Guards

Shin guards for youth soccer are often made from a variety of materials, including polyurethane, foam rubber, plastic, and metal. Each of these materials comes with its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

Polyurethane Shin Guards

Polyurethane shin guards are highly recommended because of their superior durability and comfort. They’re lightweight and flexible, which make them ideal for younger players who need the added mobility. This material is also known to absorb shock very well, offering superior protection.

Foam Rubber Shin Guards

Foam rubber is another common material used in shin guard construction. These shin guards are lightweight and comfortable, but they may not offer the same level of protection as polyurethane. Foam rubber is more susceptible to wear and tear, leading them to lose their protective qualities over time.

Plastic Shin Guards

Plastic shin guards are another option. They’re very strong and offer great protection, but they can be uncomfortable and less durable. Additionally, they’re not breathable, which can lead to discomfort during extended play.

Metal Shin Guards

Metal shin guards are the most protective, but they’re also the most uncomfortable and the heaviest. These aren’t recommended for youth soccer due to their weight and discomfort.

Considering Comfort And Breathability

Shin guard comfort is also directly related to the material it’s made of. Breathability, a crucial factor in the selection of shin guards, is often determined by the type of material and its ability to absorb and dissipate sweat. As a general rule, shin guards made of breathable material are more comfortable because they allow sweat to evaporate, keeping the legs dry and cool during the game.

When it comes to weight, lighter shin guards tend to be more comfortable, especially for young players who aren’t used to wearing protective gear. However, the trade-off is that they may not offer as much protection. Heavier shin guards will provide more protection, but they can restrict movement and cause discomfort after long periods of use.

It’s also important to check if the shin guard is adjustable, as this allows for a better fit and level of comfort. An adjustable shin guard will also grow with the player, making it more cost-effective in the long run. Look for a shin guard with an adjustable strap that gives a snug but comfortable fit.


Always remember, the best shin guard is the one that provides a balance between protection, comfort, and durability. Therefore, consider these factors carefully when selecting shin guards for youth soccer.

The protection of your young soccer player is paramount, and the right shin guards can make all the difference in ensuring their safety during the game. A well-fitted and comfortable shin guard that suits your child’s specific playing style, made of appropriate, durable material, can enhance their confidence on the field, resulting in improved performance. The importance of understanding different types of shin guards, sizing, and materials cannot be overstated when it comes to making this essential choice. With the help of this guide, parents and coaches can make an informed decision, contributing to a safer and more enjoyable soccer experience for their young athletes.

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