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Do Soccer Goalies Wear Pads?

Do Soccer Goalies Wear Pads?

Goalkeepers are one of the most important soccer players on the pitch. In matches, they are relied upon to make saves as well as help with defensive organization as they have the whole view of the field.

Some goalkeepers are also specialized in ball distribution and have been known to set their teams up quickly on the counter attack. It is not unusual to see that goalkeepers receive more protection from referees in matches.

Part of being a well prepared goalkeeper involves having the right protective equipment. Generally, goalkeepers have more allowance to don additional protective gear as compared to the outfield soccer players.

Think about the caps and extra padded gloves as case examples. Only goalkeepers are allowed to have these. What about pads? It is common knowledge that there are different kinds of pads for different body parts but do goalkeepers don them? Let us dive deeper into that.

Do soccer goalies wear pads?

For peak performance, soccer goalkeepers need all the protective gear they can get. They, like other outfield players, are at risk of injuries and muscle problems if they do not have the right kind of equipment.

Yes, goalkeepers do wear pads as part of their acceptable range of equipment. The most common areas that need protection are; groin, elbows, fingers, legs, and knees. The following pads are used by goalkeepers when playing soccer;

The soccer player wearing shin guards is dribbling

  1. Knee pads

Essentially, knee pads are an important piece of equipment that goalkeepers can use to protect their knees from injury.

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This is because the pitch surfaces are generally harder. They can be quite painful to fall on when making saves or grabbing the ball and falling to their knees as part of a goalkeeper’s catching routine.

  1. Elbow pads

Elbow pads are also another type of pad that goalkeepers can wear. These protect the elbow region when they fall from a dive or general save.

The pads can be worn underneath the anti-UV long-sleeved t-shirt that they wear. It could also be worn underneath the long sleeved team kits they wear for matches.

  1. Shin pads

The most common pads worn by all goalkeepers are shin pads. This is a compulsory piece of equipment as directed by FIFA. The pads add a protective layer to protect the midsection up to the lower part of the leg.

They come in a variety of sizes ranging from 12cm to 22cm to match the different sock length preferences of the players.

Other considerations for shin pads are the player’s age, the weight of the shin pad and number of encounters with strikers.

Younger players require shin pads that cover up to 75% of their feet due to the chances of injury.

What are the benefits of pads?

  1. Prevention of injuries

Pads in soccer are protective equipment to help protect the different body parts of a goalkeeper. Pads such as those for the elbows, knees and shin pads are imperative in limiting the impact of a collision either with the ground or other players as soccer involves a lot of contacts.

Picture a scenario where a goalkeeper jumps for a 50-50 ball with an attacker. The attacker goes on to crash into the goalkeeper’s front leg mid-air, forcing him or her to land awkwardly on their elbows.

In that situation, shin pads are critical to protect the keeper’s legs, knee pads to help cushion the pain on knees from the fall and finally elbow pads to prevent a lot of damage that would be caused to the elbows.

  1. Increases player commitment

Players can commit more to challenges and contest the ball with the knowledge that they have protective equipment on them. It makes the game more interesting when players are more engaged towards performing with less fear of injuring themselves. Fouls and challenges are all part of the game as much as attacking play is.

The goalkeeper is flying to save the ball

What are the drawbacks of pads?

  1. Slows down a player

Pads, particularly shin pads have been known to slow down soccer players. That is why it is common to see soccer players prefer to wear much smaller shin guards. Their only motivation maybe because it is a requirement by FIFA to wear this piece of equipment.

Referees have the power to enforce the guideline and can ask a player to leave the field of play for failing to don the proper compulsory protective wear. Soccer players would ideally want to move freely.

  1. Can affect shot accuracy

A soccer player is more in control of their leg grip and positioning when they do not have the pads. Unfortunately, we have seen instances where a player mishits a soccer ball because it hit their shin pads and changed direction.

The pads are made from hard plastic so if a ball is coming at speed and hits the pad, it will quickly bounce off the foot to whichever direction. This also means that the ball is harder to bring under control if it hits the shin pads.

Can a goalie do without pads?

Even if some players prefer not to play with pads, they are imperative when it comes to ensuring player safety and protection particularly for goalkeepers.

The rule book outlined by FIFA dictates that soccer players, regardless of the position on the pitch, have to don pads for the shin region. The shin pads help protect the feet of the players from a lot of injuries when they get into contact with other players.

Therefore, a goalkeeper can not simply get on the pitch without shin guards and expect to play. They can however choose whether or not to wear knee pads or elbow pads.

Pads for soccer players from one of the most important items that they could have for protection. Goalkeepers need extra protection because they put their bodies through a lot when making saves and aerial jumps sometimes with players around them.

While gloves offer their hands protection from grass burns and the playing surfaces, it is shin pads that are pivotal in the safety of a goalkeeper’s feet. The extra layer of plastic in shin pads gives a goalkeeper the confidence to commit even more to contest balls and winning aerial duels.

Out of elbow pads, knee pads, and shin pads, only shin pads have been made mandatory to have by FIFA. This move was well-intentioned as soccer teams can make adjustments to the type of players’ equipment.


Goalkeepers deserve to be well protected from fear of getting injured as well as getting muscle strains. Pads, such as knee pads, help goalkeepers with balance and playing. Additionally, the goalkeeper has the option of wearing elbow pads under his or her shirt.

Modern goalkeeper jerseys have some kind of padding of the elbow region that they can wear in lieu of the actual elbow pads. This will mean that the existence of this particular player gives options to the goalkeeper in terms of what they can wear.

Any aspiring goalkeeper should ensure that they protect themselves by focusing on wearing the right kind of equipment and prevent the extent of injuries that may be sustained.