Why Soccer Players Wear Shin Guards? (Honest Answer From Soccer Player)

Updated on 
February 1, 2022

When it comes to wearing shin guards for soccer, there are usually two types of question that arise:

  1. Are they mandatory?
  2. Why do we actually need them?

If you're asking one of these questions, you came to the right place. I'm gonna give you an answer to both of them!

Let's dive right into it!

Why do soccer players wear shin guards?

The main reason why soccer players wear shin guards is the protection of the lower extremities - which are most likely to get injured in soccer. One study from 2014 suggests, that shin guards are very effective at decreasing the risk of serious injuries.

As you can see in this published study, shin guards simply provide sufficient protection against high-impact forces.

Not wearing them would mean getting exposed to unnecessary risk of getting injured. And let me tell you, if you want to become a professional soccer player, you want to avoid all injuries that you can.

It's very popular opinion, that playing with shin guards is not that comfortable. That's why I think it's best that you buy more than one pair, and test them each on the training practice. You might finally find the ones, that fit your legs the most.

Are shin guards in soccer really necessary?

Wearing shin guards is mandatory, and every soccer player has to wear them in order to play an official match. Statemen of FIFA is very clear on this topic since you have to wear shin guards in order to play. On top of that, your socks need to cover them completely.

So even though you might find it uncomfortable at first, it's very important that you do.

In the end, I think FIFA authorities know why they passed this rule. It's simply because shin guards are effective at protecting your legs, and that's just a fact.

Why do soccer players wear shin guards under socks?

Now some of the younger players asked me this styling question on the soccer field (probably because they saw Marek Hamsik covering only half of the shin guards).

So why do soccer players wear shin guards under socks?

Soccer players have to wear shin guards under socks mainly because it's a part of FIFA's rule. It says that socks have to cover your shin guards completely. The main reason behind that is mainly because shin guards could be in the color of your opponent, and that might confuse the referee.

It's a very simple, but often overlooked rule. Although I recommend you to cover shin pads fully, as the sock helps them to stay in one place.

The best way to choose the right shin guards

When it comes to picking the right shin guards, there are a few factors you might want to consider first.

1. Your position

Are you a defender? You might want to consider getting bigger shin guards that will cover most of your shins - since you are constantly trying to win a ball. You also want to tackle a lot - so I think the statement "bigger, the better" applies here.

What if you are a midfielder? Well, if you are a midfielder, I recommend buying shin guards that are tiny. Sometimes it's very uncomfortable having shin pads that are too big - so having smaller ones definitely helps you to be more comfortable on the ball.

Are you a striker? I think smaller ones will help you to be more precise, but on the other side, the bigger ones will let you to be more aggressive without hurting yourself. Maybe the best thing is to find a middle ground between these two.

2. Your preference

What shin guards are you most comfortable with?

Did you try different brands? Different sizes? Different materials?

What you need to do, is to try as many types as you can on the training practice. See for yourself what suits you better.

Personally, I prefer smaller Nikes, because it is really comfortable to play with them. They were also lightweight so they didn't affect me in any negative way.


As you can see, we wear shin guards for a reason. A good one. They are proven to protect you and you can only benefit from that.

Short summary in a few words:

  • Shin guards are mandatory.
  • As study suggests, shin guards are proven to work!

Very last piece of advice from me.. when you are picking shin guards - please experiment as much as you can. Try them all out and see for yourself which ones fits you most.

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Tom Lindeman
Ball Athlete project
Hey! My name is Tom and I created this blog in order to help people wherever they are in their sport journey. Inspirational posts, guides, reviews and much more! Read about the project here.
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