Best Soccer Shin Guards (Youth & Adults)
Last Updated: 10th Mar, 2021
Soccer shin guards are an important part of any player's kit. You want yours to be comfortable and lightweight while protecting you from sloppy tackles and lower leg injuries. They're your only line of defense against stray kicks and fouls, so they have to be durable and protective. But speed is your friend, whether you're a striker or a center back, so you don't want to strap thick, weighty pads to your shins.
You might think all shin guards are basically the same: thin, tough pads that are covered in fabric and that slip under your socks. In fact, shin guards come in many forms. Some are built into the fabric while others attach with straps. Some are designed to be extremely lightweight for attacking positions, while others are sturdier and heavier–built for defenders.
Think about your specific needs and preferences for your playing position and ideal comfort as you read on.
These are our six recommendations for the best soccer shin guards for your best performance:
Our Top Picks for The Best Soccer Shin Guards
- NIKE J Guard- Our Pick for Best Slip-In Shin Guards
- DashSport Soccer Shin Guards - Best Shin Guards for Youth Soccer
- G-Form Pro S Compact Shin Guard - Best for defenders
- Nike Mercurial Lite Shin Guard - Best Tough Yet Lightweight Pair
- Gonex Soccer Shin Guards - Best Value
- Storelli BodyShield Leg Guards - Best Shin Guard holder
1. NIKE J Guard Shin Guard
- Ideal for: Strikers, Midfielders, forwards and goalkeepers
- Size chart:
Adult XS - 140-150 cm
Adult S - 150-160 cm
Adult M - 160-170 cm
Adult L - 170-180 cm
Adult XL - 180-200 cm
Kids S -120-130 cm (4-6 years)
Kids M - 130-140 (7-9 years)
Kids L -140-150 (10-12 years)
The Nike J Football Shin Guard is designed to be extremely lightweight and comfortable. These are the classic slip-in shin guards–you slide each one between your shin and your sock. Don't spend ninety minutes on the field constantly adjusting uncomfortable shin guards–these are small and contoured to fit comfortably. Being lightweight, they allow free movement, making it ideal for midfielders, forwards or even goalkeepers. However, I don't recommend this guard for youth soccer as it does not come with sufficient padding for extra protection.
Soft padding covering the inside of each durable shell makes the pads comfortable against your legs for long periods of time. Additionally, these shin guards feature strategically placed ventilation holes around the edges to help keep you dry and comfortable.
They're simple to slip under your socks and designed to fit the shape of your shins so that they stay in place. The J in the name stands for "Japan," which is where they're designed to be low-profile but protective.
Advanced players often realize that they prefer the lightness and fit of slip-in shin guards, but these guards work for all ages: from kids just learning the game to adults with a passion for soccer and years of experience.
Nike has a reputation for creating gear that meets the specific needs of athletes and these shin guards are a great example. Their materials provide protection while allowing the ultimate flexibility. Whether you prefer the thinnest and lightest equipment you can wear or you like to double up your socks for comfort, these will fit your style perfectly.
- Reliable protection
- Comfortable, contoured fit
- Simple to wear and adjust
Bottom line: You can get a pair of these for less than $25 dollars, so don't be afraid to order a backup pair to keep in your bag. They're a solid choice for beginners and pros who want simple, minimalist protection for a low price.
2. DashSport Soccer Shin Guard
- Ideal for: toddlers to youth soccer players; any playing position
- Size Chart
XS - 100 to 116 cm (3 to 5 years)
S - 111 to 137 cm (4 to 8 years)
M - 134 to 162 cm (7 to 14 years)
Kids don't want to worry about finding adequate shin protection and fumbling with complicated straps. If you're looking for shin guards designed to provide simple, effective shin protection for your child's practice sessions and games, check out the excellent DashSport Soccer Shin Guards.
These guards have elastic straps that are meant to wrap around the back of your child's leg to make them as secure as possible. As a bonus, they also feature a built-in ankle support sleeve for added protection. Soccer is a game of agility that puts a ton of strain on kids' ankles. The ankle support sleeves attached to the DashSport shin guards provide additional padding and support where your child's cleats meet their ankles.
It's especially important for young players to protect their legs, and this extra protection is an important bonus. Keep in mind that the support sleeves aren't removable; this is designed to prevent any accidental detachment during games.
The DashSport shin guards are made of sturdy materials and use velcro to secure the pads behind each leg. They also have foot straps to keep the ankle supports secure and in the correct position. In addition to their excellent protection, these shin guards look great and come in four fun colors for your child to choose from.
- High-quality hard shell guards
- Ankle support sleeves
- Great price
Bottom Line: With a price under $20, they're the ideal shin guards for young soccer players who need solid protection and a design that won't slide out of place every time they kick the ball or hit the grass.
3. G-Form Pro S Compact Shin Guard
- Ideal for: All positions
- Size chart:
Y S/M - 96 to 126 cm
Y L/XL - 126 to 142 cm
Adult Medium: 142 to 170 cm
Adult Large: 170 to 180 cm+
If you're a defender, the G-Form Pro S Elite Leg Guards are the best choice for comprehensive lower-leg protection. Their sleeves make them lightweight and comfortably secure over long periods of play.
These shin guards have a strong, flexible area of padding that protects the front of the shin. It's made up of numerous separate pads that give each guard superior flexibility. The pads are attached to a soft, wraparound sleeve that keeps them aligned while helping keep the whole thing extremely lightweight.
G-Form calls the high-quality foam padding in their shin guards Reactive Protection Technology (RPT) - it's reactive in that it hardens on impact, providing both excellent protection and great flexibility. The sleeve is designed to be breathable so you can stay cool and dry during intense games and practice sessions.
The pads that make up the front of these shin guards are waterproof, making the whole thing machine washable for easy care. These guards are compliant with NOCSAE standards and are a great choice for both kids and adults. However, they're on the higher end of the price range for quality shin guards: sizes are available between $20 and $60. But with the higher price comes more complete protection.
- All-in-one design
- Lightweight and durable
- Machine washable
Bottom Line: The G-Form Pro-S Elite Shin Guards offer flexible, durable padding and an all-in-one design that makes protecting yourself or your kids on the field easy. They're a quality choice for sock-style shin guards.
4. Nike Mercurial Lite Shin Guard
- Ideal for: Strikers, midfielders, center forward or anyone looking for a light shin guard
- Size chart:
Adult XS - 140-150 cm
Adult S - 150-160 cm
Adult M - 160-170 cm
Adult L - 170-180 cm
Adult XL - 180-200 cm
Nike makes a quality option for players looking for a lightweight shin guard that won't slow them down. The Nike Mercurial Lite Shin Guard is designed to protect your shins while keeping you light on your feet. An ideal choice for strikers and
These shin guards use separate breathable sleeves to hold the tough pads firmly against your legs. You can slip them in and out without fumbling with straps. They're especially comfortable for anyone who doesn't like the feeling of elastic straps pressing on their legs for ninety minutes at a time. The pads, made of strong K-resin and EVA, are vented by a pattern of holes that keeps the shin guards breathable while you play.
These shin guards are an affordable offering, with all sizes available for under $40. Since they're Nike products, you can count on quality engineering and a design built for athletes. Each guard is molded for either the left or right shin for an optimal fit. They're made with a performance-focused, minimalist design. You can also count on a selection of stylish colors, from simple black and white to crimson red or neon green.
Sizes are available from X-Small to X-Large, so young players are protected as well as experienced adults. These shin guards meet all NOCSAE requirements. They also include a carrying case so you can keep the guards and sleeves within easy reach in your bag.
- Thin, lightweight and breathable
- Minimalist design
- Includes a carrying case
Conclusion: If your shin guard priorities are thinness and simplicity, the Nike Mercurial Lite Shin Guards are an excellent choice.
5. Gonex Soccer Shin Guards - Budget Pick
- Recommended for: Beginners (all positions)
- Size chart:
S - 100 to 120 cm
M - 120 to 140 cm
L - 140 to 160 cm
XL - 160 to 180 cm
Our budget pick, the Gonex Soccer Shin Guards, share features with the Storelli and Nike products but cost a fraction of the price. For under $15, you can get a pair of lightweight plastic shin guards and stretchable sleeves made of breathable netting. These shin guards are relatively small and thin, but these qualities also make them light and flexible.
You won't have to worry about velcro or elastic straps aggravating your calves. These shin guards use stretchable, fitted sleeves to hold the shin guards in place. The sleeves are made of breathable netting that helps keep you cool by letting sweat evaporate.
The hard shell pads, themselves, are made of high-quality materials to keep your legs protected from injuries. They're breathable, too–they feature a grid pattern that lets your legs breath through both layers of protection.
The two-piece design solves the problem that many players experience using slip-in pads and socks: the Gonex sleeves have a pocket to keep the hard pads perfectly positioned on the front of your shins.
- Lightweight, hard shell material
- Comfortable, breathable sleeve
The Gonex Soccer Shin Guards come in three distinct colors and five sizes. Gonex also promises 24-hour customer service if you need help or have questions about the product.
Conclusion: Overall, if you're looking for a budget soccer shin guard that offers decent all-round protection, this product is definitely worth considering.
6. Storelli BodyShield Protective Shin Guard Holder
- Ideal for: especially defenders or anyone looking for extra protection
- Size Chart based on height:
YS - 124 to 144 cm
YM - 139 to 160 cm
YL - 149 to 170 cm
M - 160 cm to 180 cm
L - 165 cm to 190 cm
Constantly adjusting your shins is no fun and may very well impact your performance. The Storelli BodyShield Protective Shin Guard Holder is designed to keep your shin in position so that you can focus more on your game. It additionally comes with padded ankle protectors, offering more enhanced protection to your legs. When coupled with Nike J (top pick), this setup is ideal for any aggressive defender.
Featuring heavy-duty padding from the ankle to the knee cap, these leg guards protect the areas that typical shin guards don't–your ankles and outer legs. With padding that absorbs
Despite their heavy-duty protection and all-around padding, these leg guards don't sacrifice comfort or breathability. Made primarily of nylon, the fitted sleeves wick sweat and water away from your legs to help keep you cool during games. The stretchable fabric comfortably fits around your shins and calves and keeps its elasticity for multiple seasons of use.
These leg guards have convenient sleeves for your own slip-in shin guards to hold them securely in place throughout practices and games. It's a fuss-free design that's great for players focused on pressure situations or kids who don't quite pay attention to their equipment during a game. The 3mm of foam padding gives defenders the protection they need to protect their goal and play their best.
- All-around padding
- Moisture-wicking material
- Anti-bacterial and odor resistant
The sleeve and foam padding are treated to resist bacteria and prevent odors. They're also UV resistant to protect your skin on the field under the intense summer sun. They come in two simple colors: black and white.
Bottom Line: With the Storelli BodyShield Leg Guards, you won't be struggling every now and then adjusting your shin guards.
Soccer Shin Guard Buyer's Guide
Shin guards are an essential part of every soccer player's gear. Your legs are your most important tools in soccer, and shin guards protect them from potentially serious injuries. The pads can vary widely in thickness and coverage. Some shin guards even include ankle support and calf coverage. Regardless of your preferences, quality shin guards are must-haves for any player–youth through professional.
When shopping for shin guards, it's important to identify the right qualities for your needs. You'll need to think about your priorities. Do you value lightness and flexibility above all else? You'll probably prefer slip-in pads that act like a thin layer of protection beneath your socks. Does your position demand physicality and put your legs in danger too many times to count? You might want thicker padding and a wider area of protection.
Of course, price factors into your choice, too: the materials that make up the padding can mean the difference between a $10 pair of shin guards and a $50 pair. A basic pair will give you a small amount of protection while a more expensive pair might have additional ventilation and better materials.
The first step is deciding which type of shin guard to buy.
Your choice of shin guards greatly depends on your playing position. For example, a defender needs a more heavily padded shin guard as he/she is at the receiving end of a lot of tackle and prone to more injuries. On the other hand, a striker needs to be agile, and he/she would need a lightweight shin guard, preferably with ankle protection. Similarly, for kids and beginners, it's recommended to use a heavily padded shin guard with ankle support to limit the risk of injury.
Here is the break type of shin guards to use based on playing position:
- Striker: lightweight slip-in shin guard
- Defender: Heavily padded sleeve shin guard
- Midfielders: medium-padded shin guard (sleeve or slip in)
- Goalkeepers: Any light shin guard
At least for adults, choosing the right size shin guard comes down to personal preference. Some like tight-fitting and some like loose. But independent of what sort of fitting you like, you need to consider your height, calf thickness, and weight. Most manufacturers include the sizing chart, which comes as a handy reference to find the right fit. For kids, it's generally a good idea to look for slightly larger guards than what they usually wear to accommodate for their fast growth.
Shin guards are made of different materials - from lightweight foam to sturdy carbon fiber. Most advanced and pro-level players use carbon shin guard as it's lightweight yet very strong. On the downside, they're the costliest. A good compromise for most players is the polyurethane guards. They offer decent protection while still being affordably priced and not too heavy. Foam based shin guards are ideal for toddlers and kids looking to play casually.
There are three types:
- Slip-in shin guards
- Sleeve shin guards
- Shin guard socks
Slip-in shin guards are thin, lightweight pads that, as the name implies, slip into your socks to protect your shins without additional straps or pieces. They're simple and small, usually offering less protection than the other styles. Sleeve shin guards have pockets that you slide the hard shell pads into. The sleeves hold the shin guards in place and let you take out the pads to wash the sleeves separately.
Finally, shin guard socks use an all-in-one design. They feature a sock-like sleeve with the pad attached to the front. Sometimes, they also feature extra padding around the sides and back of your legs. Our above recommendations include examples of all three types.
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing shin guards is size. It's essential to measure your shins or pay close attention to the sizing guide of the shin guards you're buying. Measure the length of your shin from the top of your foot (where the tongue of your cleats is) to the top of your shin, just below your kneecap. Shin guards come in sizes ranging from X-Small to X-Large, and finding the right size is important for the best protection and comfort.
You should also think about your position on the field. Defenders often want the most protection for their legs, as they're constantly clearing balls and making tackles. Shin guards that include wraparound coverage are great options for players in defensive positions. On the other hand, strikers and midfielders usually prefer the greatest amount of maneuverability and the most lightweight options, often at the expense of protection. Many attacking players (especially professionals) choose slip-in guards that provide relatively little coverage but don't weigh them down when quick bursts of speed are necessary.
Every player, young and old, knows how uncomfortable bad shin guards can be. Either it's the straps pressing painfully into your calves or it's your legs soaked in sweat because they can't breathe through the plastic or other materials. Good shin guards account for this in their designs, using breathable materials and adding vents to the hard padding to keep you comfortable while you're playing.
Finally, if you're playing in a school league or shopping for your kids' shin guards, you'll need guards that have the logo of the NOCSAE - the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment. Look for shin guards that meet NOCSAE requirements – it's required for all U.S. high school soccer games.
Soccer is a physical game. Whether you're a professional or a parent of a budding soccer star, you want to buy the best pair of shin guards for your needs.
Good protection and a comfortable fit are the keys to optimizing your performance and preventing injuries.