No one wants to wear them, but shin guards are a mandatory part of the game of soccer; they're designed to safeguard your legs from aggressive defenders looking to take the ball from you. With all of those feet wildly kicking and tackling, you're going to need a pair of shin guards that protect unconditionally, and that includes not having to sacrifice comfort to do so. But there's no getting around the fact that a hard protective shell braced to your tibia is not going to be the most pleasant feel in the world, even if a shattered bone feels exponentially worse.
Equipment manufacturers have been wrestling with this conundrum for as long as the shin guard has been required by regulation, and players have been looking for a happy medium between performance and relief. The use of lighter materials, form-fitting sleeves, and contoured shell designs have all been considered in the quest to develop that "perfect" shin guard and there are so many options on the market that it's hard to say if that goal has truly been achieved.
Some players like wearing their guard inside a sleeve, while others will just slip their guard into their sock and be done with it. There are as many options for shin guards as there are positions on the team, so check out these five choices first and see if they are the right fit. Each of these high-quality shields are built out of carbon fiber and high-impact plastic to protect the shin effectively. Comfort is also a major part of choosing the right shin guard and these all deliver thanks to ergonomic shaping, foam or gel cushioned padding, lightweight materials, and additional elements like sock inserts to keep them in place during the game. Each of these important components went into the selection of these shin guards, so you know you're getting the best protection available today.
Uhlsport's Carbon Flex shin guard has been built designed for complete and unyielding protection for the shin. The shell is constructed of one plate built of composite materials, while the foam backing along the other side keeps the shin cushioned from impact. The result is a shin guard which reliably provides the ultimate shin protection while remaining comfortable to wear. The Carbon Flexes also come with a pair of compression socks so they're easy to wear while providing additional support for your calf. Read Full Review
For an effective shin guard, carbon and polypropylene are two of the best materials you can find at a reasonable price point. Young players in particular will want to wear something that strong to protect them from injury no matter what skill level they possess. Uhlsport's Carbon Flex guard has a rugged impact resistant plate that is built from a mixture of both materials, for a shield that safeguards the shin from hard contact while absorbing the shocks and blows from opposing players trying to get after the ball. They're lined with a padded shock absorbing protective inner foam that keeps the guard comfortable against the skin while minimizing the brunt of punishment that it will endure. These are also lightweight at just about 50 grams, so they won't weigh you down on the pitch either.
The Carbon Flexes come with a pair of specially designed compression socks fitted with special inserts to keep the shin guards in place. They've been enhanced with thermoplastic polyurethane inserts to help support the calf muscle while promoting blood circulation in the leg. This additional benefit helps reduce injury risk for both the outside and inside of your lower leg by keeping the shin from taking impact while preventing muscular and circulatory injuries as well. Uhlsport has also infused them with AEGIS anti-bacterial treating to keep them free of germs and odors after repeated use.
These shin guards are so thin, you'd think you were wasting time even slipping them on. But don't judge the PX3's by the way they look, because these are some of the toughest shields on our list. They're made of a gel-like substance that molds and hardens into a shell engineered to lessen physical blows in order to minimize the severity of brutal impacts to your shinbone. Read Full Review
Evoshield has designed a shin guard built for a customized fit to your leg so that it feels comfortable and provides the protection you need in the game. The way they've done this is through a special gel compound inside the shin guard. Once you remove the shields from the foil packaging they've been shipped in, they will begin to harden and form firmly. Just slip them on your shins and use the sleeves and fitting gauze provided to ensure that they are properly snug on the leg.
I would suggest you mold them while wearing all the gear that you plan on wearing in the game; you only get one shot at the molding process so make sure they’re exactly where you want them. Once you've got them fitted, you'll find them to be quite effective. The pliable gel inside these guards forms into a hard shell that’s been engineered to withstand stiff kicks and tackles. The hardened material distributes the force of the blow to keep your vulnerable tibia from taking any extreme punishment.
No list of the best shin guards available on the market would be complete without the Diadora Gamma Carbonios. These were built for an injured Francesco Totti in the 2006 World Cup to protect his broken fibula which hadn't fully healed before the event. They provide ultimate protection as they are longer than most regular shin guards, extending from just below the knee all the way down the shin. Read Full Review
Diadora was tasked with protecting Totti from further injury in the 2006 World Cup and this was what they supplied him with; a shin guard that essentially acts like a cast. The shield is molded to wrap around the leg without straps or sleeves. You literally just slip your leg in and it stays put, but be sure to find the correct size first or they will slip down. They protect so well because these guards are made of Kevlar, the same material that's used in the manufacture of bulletproof vests, as well as fortified with additional layers of carbon fiber.
All of that protection hasn't made them any less lightweight or flexible either, because they get high marks in both of those categories. They just look and protect like you're wearing armored plates on your legs. These shin guards obviously aren’t for everyone as they retail for close to $200 in some places, but they’re ideal for players who’ve sustained a previous injury to the vulnerable region around the leg and ankle. Wear these shin guards once and I swear you'll feel like you could take a baseball bat to the shin and not feel a thing. Although these are incredibly expensive but they're practically bulletproof.
Now we get to the first of two affordably priced picks from two of the most popular brands in sports. First is Nike with their Mercurial Lite shin guard, combining a strong outer protective shell with a comfortable and easy to wear sleeve to keep them firmly in place for the duration of the game. You might expect these to be expensive as they've got the "swoosh" on them, but they'll only run you about twenty bucks at most retailers. Read Full Review
Designed for maximum impact protection while remaining lightweight and comfortable, Nike developed their Mercurial Lite shin guard to protect your leg and keep you at the top of your game. The blades start out stiff and they'll need some breaking in at first, but soon enough these will feel like you've owned them for years.
Nike has designed the Lites to be anatomically contoured for a tighter fit to each leg, the shields are composed of a highly resilient K-resin built to withstand hard impacts, and the stiff material provides rugged impact resistance to the shell. This is the same material found in many medical devices, so you can rest assured your shin is well guarded.
Additionally, EVA foam is added to absorb and disperse impact against your shin. It works well with kicking feet and even better with the ball; so well in fact, it will minimize the deflection of the ball when it hits the shin guard. The end result is you effectively remain in control with more confidence. These shin guards come with fit stretch sleeves to cushion the area around your shin so that they not only fit well, but stay snug and comfortable.
The second of our name brands at low prices, Adidas makes the list with the Ghost. There's nothing worse than a shin guard that won't stay in place, but you just can't stop from adjusting it between whistles. The Ghosts work in the very same manner as the Uhlsport blades at the top of our list, providing excellent coverage with a compression sock that promotes blood flow throughout the leg. But best of all, they won't shift around on you during the game. Read Full Review
These may perform in a similar fashion to the Carbon Flex shields at the top of the list, but they share the same price point as the Nike Mercurial Lites in that you can get these Adidas shields for just around $20. The hard-shell front plate of these guards is made from a combination of Polypropylene and injection-molded thermoplastic gum providing some of the toughest safeguard stability in a blade at this price point. They come with cushiony EVA lining so that they stay comfortable for the duration of the game while absorbing the blows that are sure to come with it. The compression socks that are part of the package keep the blood flowing throughout the leg while offering plenty of support for the calf and stability for the shin guard to prevent it from moving around on your leg.