To understand how soccer shin guards are suppose to fit, you must first understand that there are different types of shin guards, which have a bearing on how shin guards are suppose fit and that not all shin guards are appropriate for all players.
The following is a brief description of shin guards.
- Shin Socks – younger players just starting out in the sport normally wear these. The shin guard is sewn into the socks as a complete “set.” Reason this is marketed for younger players is the simplicity of putting them on.
- Ankle Sock Shin Guards – provide additional ankle protection and mimic the sock style as the shin guard strap is placed under the ankle and is secured within the cleat. This style too is often used by younger players or players within developmental stages of soccer play
- Strap-on Shin Guards – shin guard with attached straps that wrap around the calf and secure by way of Velcro across the front of the shin guard. These are rarely used as the Velcro gives way and the straps have shown to be uncomfortable and often cause irritation.
Hard Plastic Shin Guards – are lightweight ultra protective guards widely sought after by advance players. These guards absorb contact and spread them across the entire shin guard. They come in two types.
- First type slides under the player’s sock. This is not desirable due to the simple motion of running the guards can become dislodged from beneath the sock leaving the player at risk.
- The most desirable method is the use of a microfiber sleeve. The sleeve fits up over the player’s calf and has a “pocket” that the shin guard slides into, this provides the greatest comfort and security for the player.
Fit Now that we understand the types of shin guards, we can better speak to how shin guards are suppose fit. Understanding the purpose of the shin guard is to do exactly as the name suggests, protect the shin. The shin or tibia extends from the knee to the ankle. It is unreasonable to believe a shin guard will protect the entire length of the shin instead; you should concentrate on the most vulnerable part.
Place the shin guard approximately two to four inches from ankle. Most shin guards will have a smaller surface area leading up to a larger surface area. The smaller surface area indicates the bottom or part that should be closer to the ankle. The shin guard should fit snuggle against the shin wrapping part way around the calf and should cover the front slightly passing over the side of the calf. This is the proper fitting of shin guards and shows how shin guards are suppose fit.
Comfort will be the main ally of the player, as they will want to feel freedom of motion as they jog or sprint. Keep the top portion of the shin guard a fair amount of distance from the knee. This will allow freedom for the player and not cause the top of the shin guard to contact the knee in any way.
Allowing for comfort will keep the player in tune with their shin guard and provide the greatest level of protection. Be sure to try them on before you buy and have your player take a jog to gauge its comfort and overall fit.