Shin guards are designed with a hard outer shell to protect the shinbone from impact. Most shin guards also have a cushioned liner for extra protection and adjustable straps for stability. Without shin guards, the shins are extremely susceptible to injury. Make sure to wear them at all times, even in practice.
Shin guards are available in a number of materials, including fiberglass, rubber and polyurethane. Younger players typically wear fiberglass models, while higher level players, midfielders and defenders are more likely to opt for thicker, impact absorbing models.
Forwards and goalkeepers, who are more likely to get hit by the ball from the side or behind, should look for wider shin guards that can protect the sides of the calf.
When fitting shin guards, measure from one to two inches below the knee to just above the bend of your ankle to determine the right size. Shin guards come in adult and junior sizes.
Many models, especially those for youth and less experienced players, are equipped with an ankle stirrup fitted with plastic discs or foam padding for extra protection.