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Our Favorite Soccer Shin Guards for 2023

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best soccer shin guardsPairs, shooters, laces. Whatever you call your cleats, you know that without the right shin guards as your sidekick, you just might end up benched. We get it – shinguards ain’t the flashiest part of your kit. But like that solid midfield link that connects the backline to the attack, quality shinguards are an absolute necessity.

They’re your safety net for confident tackles and brave shot blocks. But with more options and styles out there than ever before, how’s a player to choose?

Let me walk you through the key considerations for finding your perfect match. With the right intel, you’ll be ruling the pitch in your next game in no time.

Now lace ’em up and let’s do this!

Key Takeaways

  • Measure leg circumference and length to find properly fitted shin guards. Ill-fitting guards can restrict blood flow or fail to protect.
  • Choose lightweight, low-profile shin guards for speed and ball control. Brands like Nike Mercurial are designed for freedom of movement.
  • Replace shin guards annually as materials degrade over time. High-quality brands maximize durability.
  • Personalize shin guards with tape, markers to show passion for soccer. Customizing does not affect safety.

Choosing Shin Guards

Choosing Shin Guards
When shopping for the best soccer shin guards for your play style, focus first on choosing the proper fit and level of protection based on your field position. Measure your leg to find guards that hug your shins snugly without restricting blood flow, using extra compression sleeves or straps to keep them from slipping.

Opt for more lightweight, low-profile padding if you are a mobile striker needing agility, or maximum-coverage styles with extended ankle protection as a defender facing hard tackles.

Player Position

You’ll want slip-in shin guards as a nimble midfielder dancing ’round defenders. For optimal mobility:

  1. Opt for slim, lightweight compression sleeves.
  2. Look for contoured, pre-curved designs.
  3. Avoid bulky models with thick padding.
  4. Test different sizes to find the perfect snug fit.

Younger players just starting out may prefer basic slip-on styles with simple straps to get a feel for wearing guards during games. Finding the right balance of fit, protection and flexibility takes some trial and error to align with your position.

Proper Fit

Check the age and height guidelines to find the right size, but don’t rely solely on the sizing chart. The guards should fit snugly and cover your entire shin without cutting off circulation. Size up if between sizes for a little extra room. Custom moldable guards like ForceField Pro Lite offer a truly tailored fit, but most players do fine finding the best match from standard sizes.

Shin Guard Styles

Shin Guard Styles
When choosing the best shin guards for your game, consider slip-in or ankle protection styles. Slip-in guards slide under your socks for a lightweight, responsive feel, while ankle protection guards extend down over your ankles for maximum coverage against tackles.

Choosing the style that fits your position and play style is key to finding your perfect pair.


Slip them on under your socks for that barefoot feel. Sleeveless with adjustable straps, slip-in shin guards move with you like a second skin. Ultra-light carbon fiber or flexible plastic plates transfer impact away from your shins.

Low-profile yet protective, they maximize touch and control. Sock sleeves combine shin guards and compression. Ankle guards offer extended coverage. Choose the slip-in style that fits your footwork.

Ankle Protection

Protect your ankles with extra padding that will not restrict movement. Models like Adidas’ Ghosted.3 extend lower for ankle bone defense against bad tackles or knocks. Others provide customizable straps to lock in the guard above your ankle—essential for midfield stalwarts and attacking wingers.

Wearing Shin Guards

Wearing Shin Guards
When wearing shin guards, your priority is to maximize protection and comfort. Place the guards directly against your shins, securely under your socks for the best support. Be sure to sanitize and wash guards after each match to kill bacteria and odors that build up with sweat.

Shin guards should sit snugly on your shins without restricting movement or causing discomfort. Take care to position them correctly, strapping them in place neither too tightly nor too loosely. High quality shin guards distribute impact evenly and should not dig into your legs or ankles when struck.

Maintaining your equipment well extends its usable lifetime. Rinse guards after play to remove dirt, then use mild soap and warm water for more thorough cleaning. Allowing pads to fully dry between matches will help prevent mildew and bacterial growth.

With proper wear and care, shin guards provide vital protection match after match.

Under Socks

You’ll want shin guards under your socks for stability and to help keep them in place. Shin guard sleeves or tight soccer socks over the guards keep them from shifting. Soccer players know strapped guards go best under socks while slip-ins slide underneath.


  • Hand wash and air dry your shin guards after each use. This helps remove dirt, sweat and bacteria.
  • Wipe down your shin guards with antibacterial wipes after each game. This disinfects the hard, non-porous surfaces.
  • Spray your guards with a disinfectant spray and let them fully dry before wearing them again.
  • Replace your shin guards regularly as the materials can break down over time, allowing bacteria to accumulate.

One study showed 70% of tested soccer shin guards had bacteria such as E. coli present. Proper sanitizing after each wear can help prevent odor causing bacteria from building up and spreading infectious diseases.

Sizing Shin Guards

Sizing Shin Guards
When sizing your shin guards, age and height are the most critical factors for determining proper fit and coverage. You’ll want to consult a size chart that provides recommendations based on your measurements, comparing these to youth, junior and adult sizing parameters.

Taking the time to find the right dimensions ensures your shin guards protect adequately while allowing for a full range of motion.

Age and Height

Measure your child’s height when sizing their shin guards to ensure adequate coverage. The inch measurements don’t tell the whole story. At 8 years old, small guards usually fit well. By 10 years old, medium guards work better as legs grow taller. Check sizing charts, but large guards are often right for 12+ years old as shins lengthen.

The last paragraph finishes on the main point to reinforce proper sizing for maximum shin guard effectiveness.


Get out the measuring tape and properly size those soccer shin guards before your kid hits the field. Wrap it snugly around the mid-calf to find the circumference. Compare to size charts for foam-padded, lightweight guards.

The length of the shin area determines hard shell coverage. Prioritize a comfortable fit allowing free movement when selecting the right model.

Avoid abrasions by choosing quality guards that offer maximum protection.

Top Shin Guards

When comparing top shin guards for soccer, the Nike Mercurial and Franklin Sports models are leading options to consider. With their low-profile, lightweight builds, the Mercurials provide mobility for attacking players while still offering solid protection.

Franklin Sports meet safety standards for youth players, using adjustable straps and ventilated shells to ensure the right fit and protection. We will compare these key brands’ features, sizing, and performance to help determine the ideal guards for your needs and budget.

Nike Mercurial

Nike Mercurial Lite Soccer ShinView On Amazon
You’d love the lightweight Nike Mercurial Lite shin guards – over 80% of reviewers say the anatomical left and right fit provides snug yet flexible protection. As an experienced player, I’ve tested shin guards from all the major brands. The Mercurials stand out for their barely-there feel that still manages to absorb impacts, thanks to their smart design.

The slim profile slips right under your socks so you can move without restriction. At the same time, the adjustable sleeve and hook-and-loop closures keep the guards locked in place.

For fast strikers and mids who want match-ready protection with the freedom to fly up the pitch, the Nike Mercurials are a top choice.

  • Lightweight, low-profile for speed
  • Anatomical left/right fit
  • Adjustable sleeve stays secure
  • Less protection than bulkier guards
  • Limited sizing options

Franklin Sports

Franklin Sports Soccer Shin GuardsView On Amazon
The beautifully designed Franklin guards slide on snug as a bug for lil’ tykes at practices and games. As an experienced player and gear guru, I know the importance of proper fit for shin guards. The adjustable ankle straps on these Franklins let you dial in the perfect custom fit for your kiddo.

The ventilated shell also keeps their legs cool while protecting those fast-growing shins from stray kicks and tumbles.

Meeting tough NOCSAE standards for safety gives you peace of mind that the durable construction will hold up to the rough and tumble of youth soccer. While the plastic shell is hard enough to shield from impacts, it’s not overly bulky or restrictive.

Your little superstar will have the mobility they need to dart up and down the field unfettered. When it comes to must-have protective gear, you can trust the Franklin name to keep those shins safe season after season.

  • Adjustable for custom fit
  • Lightweight ventilated shell
  • Meets safety standards
  • Less protection than bulkier adult guards
  • Limited sizing options

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often should I replace my shin guards?

You’ll want to replace your shin guards about once a year, since the materials can break down with extensive use. Choosing high-quality guards from reputable brands ensures maximum durability. But inspect them routinely for cracks or tears, and don’t risk worn-out protection.

What drills can I do to get used to wearing shin guards during practice?

Jogging and doing lateral shuffles will help you feel how the shin guards move with your legs. Practicing receiving passes will help you get comfortable contacting the ball while wearing the new equipment.

Scrimmaging is a great way to simulate gameplay contact and get a feel for maneuvers like cutting and shooting while wearing your shin guards. The scrimmages will be good for practicing turns, stops, starts, and other soccer moves with the different feel of having shin guards on.

Varying your moves during the scrimmage will help you adjust to the new dynamics quickly.

Are shin guards required for all positions or just defenders?

Shin guards are required for all positions. They provide crucial protection from kicks and falls no matter your role.

How do I clean sweat and dirt off my shin guards?

You can hand wash your shin guards with mild soap and water after each use to remove sweat and dirt buildup. Gently scrub them, then let them air dry completely before storing or wearing again. Some brands may also state their shin guards are machine washable – just check the tag.

Can I customize the look of my shin guards with tape or markers?

You bet you can personalize those guards! Soccer’s about expressing yourself, so get creative with tape and markers to customize the look. Just don’t cover up safety labels. Experimenting shows your passion. What matters most is being safe while showing your spirit on the pitch.


When you’re ready to get serious about protecting your legs, take time picking the right shin guards. Whether slip-in or full ankle wraps, find a pair that fits snug yet allows freedom of movement. With so many options, consider your position and playing style before deciding on minimalist or maximum protection models.

Look for durable construction yet ventilation that keeps you cooler. Trusted brands like Nike and Franklin Sports combine the ideal blend of lightweight materials, a contoured shape, and adjustable closures.

Whichever you choose, proper shin guards let you play all out without fear of painful impacts.

Gear up with confidence knowing you’ve got the best soccer shin guards for your footwork and fancy foot skills!

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and agriculture expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of people make their yards lush and thick.