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Do I Need Shin Guards For Soccer? 3 Practical Reasons

Do I Need Shin Guards For Soccer? 3 Practical Reasons

As a sport watched and loved by millions of fans worldwide, there’s no disputing the beauty and thrill of soccer. As much as it is entertaining for soccer fans and enthusiasts, the game’s governing bodies are also particular about the safety of the players involved.

For this reason, the sport has some equipment mandatorily included to help ensure the safety of the players. One of such equipment is shin guards.

Although unlike some other equipment, shin guards are not overtly conspicuous, their purpose and functions should never be underestimated.

Just as the name implies, shin guards are soccer equipment placed on the leg’s shin to protect it during gameplay. As a sport that’s mainly dependent on the use of legs, the shin is highly susceptible to injuries.

This article looks in detail at the benefits of shin guards to soccer and why it is deemed a piece of mandatory equipment for players.

Do I need shin guards for soccer?

Yes, you do! Especially if you’re playing at the professional level. Shin guards serve as protective equipment for soccer players. To cater for convenience and preference, soccer shin guards come in three major types — Slip-in shin guards, Ankle shin guards, and Shin socks.

Since shin guards are a piece of essential equipment in soccer, it means soccer players would not be allowed on the pitch by the match referee if they’re not wearing one.

For this reason, top sports manufacturing brands are well vested in the production and sale of high-quality shin guards.

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While there are quality branded shin guards, this does not stop budding soccer players with extraordinary DIY abilities from making their shin guards. With just regular home materials, a good makeshift shin guard can be created on a budget.

Why do soccer players wear shin guards?

With all this fuss about the shin guards, here are important reasons why professional soccer players are required to wear them when playing the game.

To protect a player’s shin from injuries

This goes without saying, especially since it is positioned directly on the shin. It is the major reason soccer players are mandated to wear them before playing.

As soccer players move around on the pitch, they receive physical contact from other players in tackles, hits, and kicks.

When hit abysmally, the shin is susceptible to fractures and injuries. The pain from this can be excruciating and can sometimes end the career of the player.

an opponent tackles a soccer ball in the shin of other player

Although fractures may be the worst of injuries, players can also be plagued with bruises and sores on the shin if not adequately protected.

Shin guards work both ways to protect both the player and other players he or she may come in contact with during gameplay.

It is mandatory soccer equipment

As already stated, professional players are not allowed on the pitch if they are not wearing shin guards. This is how seriously the game’s governing bodies take the safety of the players.

FIFA (which acts as the governing body for the NCAA and MLS) has the shin guard listed as part of its compulsory equipment. It is clearly spelled out in Law 4: The Players’ Equipment, of its Laws of the Game.

It gives an extra layer of confidence

With all of its functionalities, soccer players have a certain confidence level to engage in tackles and jump in to fend off balls.

Shin guards have not always been a piece of compulsory equipment in soccer. As a matter of fact, the regulatory bodies decided to include it sometime towards the end of the 1800s.

soccer player wears shin guard in soccer training

For professional soccer players, this decision would turn out to be one of the best with regard to safety in the sport.

Drawbacks from wearing shin guards

There is no downplaying the importance of having an extra layer of protection on the leg, especially the shin. However, since shin guards are not customizable items or equipment, there are bound to be some drawbacks to their use.

While we look at two of these highlighted drawbacks, it’s imperative to state that they are subjective rather than a consensus observation.


In addition to wearing soccer socks, players are required to wear shin guards. Although different designs have been invented to help keep them in place on the shin, it’s hard for a player not to notice its presence.

As players run around on the pitch, shin guards can be an extra weight on the leg. While soccer equipment manufacturers have tried to create more options, some players may find shin guards as a huge discomfort to their gameplay.

kid wearing shin guards in a soccer match

May disrupt intended ball touches

There’s no doubt about the protection shin guards provide to the shin, but its extra layer of thickness can make it hard to get the right ball touch all the time.

Shin guards could cause ball deflections and affect intended strikes. Although not a common occurrence, there still is a probability of it getting in the way of a ball touch.

Does a player’s position affect the nature of shin guards?

Yes, it does. Now that we have a better understanding of the importance of shin guards in soccer, a closer look at the design of shin guards shows a certain level of difference in thickness and weight.


Acting as the last line of defense for each team, goalkeepers are known to engage primarily with their hands. With little movements around their penalty area, in comparison with other outfield players, goalies have relatively fewer hits on their shin area.

goalkeeper holding a soccer ball

This, however, does not eliminate the likelihood of it occurring. As a piece of compulsory equipment, goalies are also expected to wear them on the pitch. However, their shin guards are lighter and have lesser thickness than other players.


The job description of defending the goal area puts them at risk from dangerous tackles and hits. For this reason, their shin guards were made to be much thicker than those of the goalkeeper.

It is common to see defenders use their shin area to tackle or dispossess the opponent advancing towards their goal area. More than any other player on the field, defenders need this level of protection.

Besides, since they are not so involved in running around the field, they would not feel any extra weight of the thick shin guards.


Since they act as the connecting point between defenders and strikers, these players are involved in a lot of movement. They also are not spared from the risks of dangerous tackles.

To allow them to effectively perform in their position, their shin guards are made of moderate thickness — enough to protect the shin from hits but light enough to allow for quick and easy movements.

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Apart from midfielders, these players cover the most significant distance than the other players. In addition, shin guards for strikers are usually lightweight to allow for easy mobility and kicking.

These shin guards are small in size but designed to provide the necessary cushion and protective layer for the shin.

striker wearing shin guards

Use of shin guards in different types of soccer

Shin guards may be a piece of compulsory equipment in soccer, but it’s important to note that the term “soccer” is an enveloping word often used to describe association football — 11 v 11. Other variants of soccer include indoor soccer, beach soccer, street soccer, freestyle soccer.

Are soccer players also mandated to wear shin guards in all of these variants of soccer? Let’s examine each of them closely.

Indoor soccer

Just as the name implies, it is a variant of soccer played indoors. The most popular type of indoor soccer is Futsal.

Judging by the style and intensity of play and having FIFA as its governing body, indoor soccer players (at the professional level) are also required to wear shin guards.

Like in association football, shin guards are worn in indoor soccer for the same reasons discussed above.

indoor soccer players wearing shin guards

Beach soccer

Yet another soccer variant that has FIFA as its highest governing body. This variant is played on a sandy pitch but with slightly different rules than what’s used in association football.

A striking difference is that players in beach soccer do not wear cleats. The same goes for shin guards.

To clarify on this, shin guards are not allowed in beach soccer!

two players in a beach soccer match

Street soccer

It is regarded as an informal variant of soccer. This is because FIFA does not officially recognize it on a professional level.

If you have ever played the game of soccer, chances are this was the variant you started with. As the name implies, it is played on the streets and in parks.

The use of shin guards is neither mandatory nor prohibited. Players can decide to wear standard types or make them from readily available materials.

The intensity of the game and the player’s budget plays a huge role in the use of shin guards. Make no mistake, tackles and gameplays can be as dangerous as seen in other game variants.

a group playing soccer on the street

Freestyle soccer

Individuals often do this soccer variant as a form of self-expression. It involves juggling a soccer ball in an acrobatic manner.

Although not officially recognized by FIFA, it has the World Freestyle Football Association (WFFA) as its highest governing body.

Since shin guards are worn to protect the shin from injuries, and there are no forms of tackle or dangerous plays in freestyle soccer, shin guards are not necessary.


Shin guards are a piece of necessary equipment in soccer. Therefore, its use and importance cannot be overemphasized. For this reason, it was included as part of the compulsory equipment in the sport.

To allow for effective performance on the pitch, shin guard manufacturers design shin guards for players in relation to their position on the soccer field. This allows the shin guards to deliver its functionality without impeding the player’s abilities.

Some players report some drawbacks in its use but most of these are fixed by the equipment’s manufacturers in subsequent designs. Sometimes a good tape can help fix these drawbacks to ensure the player’s performance is not compromised.

As a piece of mandatory equipment in association football, not all variants of soccer make use of shin guards. The nature of the game and its level of professionalism play a huge role in shin guards in the sport. For some variants, it is optional, while in others, it is prohibited.