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What are Shin Guards?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 23, 2024
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Shin guards are safety equipment worn during a range of sporting activities. They protect a player's shins from harm from contact with a ball, puck, hockey stick, or other type of sports equipment. They also help to protect a player's shins from harm that could result from contact with another player. For example, during sports games like soccer, it is possible for one player to kick another player in the shin by accident; shin guards help absorb the brunt of such contact. Besides soccer, they may be worn for playing sports like hockey, football, and baseball.

Shin guards come in a range of sizes to suit players ranging from the tiniest recreational player to the professional sportsman. Typically, they are kept on the legs with Velcro® straps, and they are available in a range of color and style choices. To reduce injuries, many school teams have mandatory requirements for shin guards. Many non-school sports clubs require them as well.

Shin guards can be made of a variety of materials. Some are made from fiberglass; this type is designed to be lightweight yet sturdy, offering a significant amount of protection for the shins. Those that are made of foam rubber are lightweight, but they tend to offer less protection than fiberglass choices. Polyurethane choices are very heavy and sturdy; they may be chosen when a high level of impact protection is needed. Some people choose plastic shin guards because they are less expensive than other types, and they are often lightweight; however, they also tend to offer less impact protection.

The type of shin guards necessary for sporting activities may depend on the position you're playing. For example, if you are a soccer goalie, you may not need as sturdy shin protection, as you may be less likely to deal with impact from other players. However, if you are a hockey goalie, and you have to deal with pucks flying at you, you probably want as much protection possible.

If you are a defender, you may need very sturdy shin guards, as you may frequently deal with impacts from sporting equipment and tackles. Even midfielders need a significant amount of protection to deal with the impact possible when competing for the ball. Those who play forward positions may need lighter-weight guards, so they can run faster and move about more freely. Still, it is necessary to make sure the guards they choose provide an adequate level of protection.

Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a Sports n' Hobbies writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By runner101 — On Nov 25, 2011

Shin guards were great for protecting your shins while playing sports, but they were not great for moving around comfortably and freely while playing sports. I would sometimes try to sneak not wearing my shin-guards to games, but someone would always notice and tell on me. I know it was all for my benefit, but when I was younger I was not very concerned with injuries, obviously.

Another bad thing I remember about shin guards is that the shin guards made me sweat underneath them a whole lot. After each game, my shins would be covered in sweat, and my shin guards and shins would smell like road kill. It was pretty nasty!

With all this being said, now that I know safety is so important, I am thankful that we were made to wear shin guards, are shins seem to be pretty frail. One wrong hit to them and it seems like you wouldn't be able to much at all for a while. Also, it is always better safe than sorry.

By aLFredo — On Nov 24, 2011

Growing up, I played for a recreational soccer team. I remember would get so excited to go to games, wearing our uniforms and our shin guards and putting soccer socks over top of them.

I think I thought shin guards were so cool because it made me feel like I was playing a very dangerous sport, since we had to wear shin guards or we were not aloud to play.

I think I always wore the big shin guards, that covered my whole shin, not just part of it. I didn't have the ankle protectors though.

I mostly played mid-field, which required me to kind of run the whole field, so I can see why it was important for me to wear big shin guards. The mid-fielders job was to basically help out anyone on your team who needed help, so you never knew where you would end up on the field.

I think without shin-guards I would have gave up on soccer many years before I did, as I do not deal with pain well.

By tolleranza — On Nov 23, 2011

I played soccer and wore shin guards and you would not think so, but there were quite the variation and opinion on shin guards.

Some people had shin guards that also had ankle guards (serious protection) other players had shin guards that seem to barely cover their shins; in fact I some of my teammates had kid shin guards.

For people that chose to have the "large and in charge" shin guards, the idea was to have as much protection as possible. For those that chose the tiny ones, they felt they were more comfortable and/or that the smaller shin guards did not get in the way of their playing performance.

I opted for the smaller shin guards as I felt they were more comfortable, but I have an important suggestion to anyone who wears these - buy some shin guard sleeves. These sleeves keep the shin guards right in place as the stretchy Velcro strap that came with the shin guard often became stretched out from all of the wear it incurred.

By Emilski — On Nov 23, 2011

@cardsfan27 - To answer your question there are shin guards in hockey and they are used to get into a better crouching position when you are in set mode when the puck is on your end.

Goalies do have a lot of freedom to move around, a lot more than catchers in baseball, yet they still need knee savers to save from wearing down their knees.

Also, the way shin guards are designed allow for a better crouching position to be ready to attack. Some coaches do not like their goalies to wear shin guards because they think that they will not be alert all the time and be sitting. Yet, this is not the case and I feel that they help immensely and that it gets you in a better position to defend shots.

By cardsfan27 — On Nov 22, 2011

@kentuckycat - I know of knee savers and I have to say they really do save on wear and tear of the knees while catching. One question I have though is whether or not they have some type of knee savers for hockey goalies?

I would imagine that goalies do not have to squat as much as catchers, considering I see goalies stand around a lot when the puck is on the other end. However, in the heat of the moment I would think that a goalie would want to be ready and alert and have something like knee savers.

I feel like because knee savers do not make you sit on your calves that they provide you more freedom of movement as well as comfort. Since you probably move a lot more as a goalie in hockey I would think that they would have knees savers to provide more freedom of movement, but i do not know.

By kentuckycat — On Nov 22, 2011

@stl156 - I have to say recent innovations in equipment have greatly helped catchers and lengthened their careers. The invention of knee savers that attach to the shin guards allow something for the catcher to somewhat sit on while their catching and save from all the squatting they have to do during the games.

I have caught in the past and it was miserable on my knees. It is not so much the catching aspect, but the continual squatting and sitting on the back of my calves while I catch. Knee savers are just a triangle shaped cushion at the back of the knees that does not get in the way of catching and allows for the catcher to not sit down on the back of their calves and be in a more comfortable sitting position to catch, thus saving the knees.

By stl156 — On Nov 22, 2011

Most shin guards for various sports are very different than one another. Soccer shin guards only cover the lower half of the shin below the knee and is designed in regards to kicking a ball on the ground. Most of the time when someone gets kicked in the shin it will be on the lower half because the ball is on the ground. Other sports change due to the intangibles involved with them.

In baseball the shin guards are designed to completely cover the shin up past the knee and this is because a baseball could hit the catcher in about any area. Nowadays there are also things called knee savers that attached to the shin guards and help save a persons knees from continual squatting.

The other sports that likes to use shin guards is hockey and that is usually for the goalie. The point of the goalie is to use their body to block a frozen puck traveling at high speeds at them so the more padding on the sin guards the better.

By truman12 — On Nov 21, 2011

I just started doing roller derby and I was surprised to see some girls wearing shin guards. It is not most girls or even a lot of girls but there are a few that do it all the time, even when they practice.

I tried it once and I found it really hard to skate. I can respect the girls that want to protect their bodies, because I know how rough roller derby can be. But I think I skate better when I am wearing as few pads as possible.

By sunshine31 — On Nov 21, 2011

@Mutsy - You know I think that the larger hockey shin guards are probably easier to put on because they are so big. Shin guards are important to wear because many kids get hurt playing these games and it takes a while to get over a kick to the shins.

I know that the hockey shin guards that cover the knee are not cheap. The price for these can range from $25 to $60 for a pair. They seem uncomfortable to wear. I really don’t know how people can wear these and still move around. They look too bulky to me.

By mutsy — On Nov 20, 2011

My kids recently joined a soccer league and I had to get them knee shin guards so that if they get kicked in the shins it would not hurt them. The league did not let kids play without them.

I think I had to buy about three pairs because my son constantly misplaced them. At least they weren’t expensive. I only paid about $8 for them, but the league was selling them for $15.

I think that the soccer shin guards don’t look that bad because it almost looks like a long sock, but it is a little tricky to put on.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a Sports n' Hobbies writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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