Shin guards are essential protective equipment for soccer goalkeepers, who often face high-speed shots and tackles from opponents. Shin guards can prevent injuries such as fractures, bruises and cuts to the lower leg and ankle. However, not all shin guards are created equal. There are different types of shin guards that vary in size, shape, material, weight and attachment method. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages for the goalkeeper. One of the most important factors to consider when choosing shin guards for a goalkeeper is the size and fit. Here are some tips on how to choose the right size and fit of shin guards for the goalkeeper.
Measure your shin length
The first step to finding the right size of shin guards is to measure your shin length. This is the distance from below the knee to above the ankle. You can use a tape measure or a ruler to measure your shin length. Alternatively, you can use a shin guard size chart that matches your height with the recommended shin guard size. For example, Nike has a shin guard size chart that shows the following sizes:
- XS: 4’7″ – 4’11” (140 – 150 cm)
- S: 4’11” – 5’3″ (150 – 160 cm)
- M: 5’3″ – 5’7″ (160 – 170 cm)
- L: 5’7″ – 5’11” (170 – 180 cm)
- XL: 5’11” – 6’3″ (180 – 190 cm)
However, these sizes are only approximate and may vary depending on the brand and model of the shin guard. Therefore, it is advisable to try on different sizes and shapes of shin guards and test them for comfort and mobility.
Choose the right coverage
The second step to finding the right fit of shin guards is to choose the right coverage. This is the amount of area that the shin guard covers on your lower leg and ankle. You want your shin guards to cover most of the area between your ankle and knee, but not too much or too little.
The ideal coverage depends on several factors:
- The level of protection: The more coverage you have, the more protection you have from impacts and collisions. However, more coverage also means more weight and bulkiness, which can affect your mobility and comfort.
- The position you play: The position you play can influence how much coverage you need. For example, goalkeepers may need more coverage than outfield players, as they have to dive and slide more often and face more powerful shots.
- The rules of the game: The rules of the game can also affect how much coverage you need. For example, some leagues or tournaments may have minimum or maximum requirements for shin guard coverage.
To find the right coverage, you should measure the length of your shin guard from top to bottom. The top of the shin guard should be approximately two inches from your knee, while the bottom should sit between one and two inches above your ankle. This provides ample protection while allowing enough space for optimal mobility.
Choose the right attachment method
The third step to finding the right fit of shin guards is to choose the right attachment method. This is how the shin guard stays in place on your lower leg and ankle. There are different types of attachment methods that vary in security, convenience and breathability. Some of the most common attachment methods are:
- Velcro straps: Velcro straps are straps that wrap around the calf and fasten with velcro. They offer a secure and adjustable fit that can prevent slippage and movement of the shin guard during a game.
- Elastic bands: Elastic bands are bands that stretch around the calf and hold the shin guard in place by friction or compression. They offer a simple and convenient fit that can be easily worn and removed.
- Sleeves: Sleeves are fabric tubes that slide over the shin guard and cover it completely. They offer a snug and comfortable fit that can reduce irritation and chafing from the shin guard.
- Socks: Socks are socks that have a pocket or a sleeve for inserting the shin guard under them. They offer a discreet and breathable fit that can prevent dirt and debris from getting into the shin guard.
The ideal attachment method depends on several factors:
- The type of shin guard: The type of shin guard can influence what kind of attachment method you need. For example, slip-in shin guards have no straps or sleeves and need to be held in place by elastic bands, sleeves or socks. Ankle shin guards have additional padding or straps that cover the ankle area and need to be fastened with velcro straps or sleeves.
- The preference of the goalkeeper: The preference of the goalkeeper can also affect what kind of attachment method they like. For example, some goalkeepers may prefer velcro straps for their security and adjustability, while others may prefer elastic bands for their simplicity and convenience.
- The climate and activity level: The climate and activity level can also impact what kind of attachment method is suitable. For example, in warm weather or intense activity, sleeves or socks may cause overheating, sweating and chafing, while in cold weather or low activity, velcro straps or elastic bands may cause restriction or discomfort.
To find the right attachment method, you should try on different types of shin guards and test them for security, convenience and breathability. You should also check the quality and condition of your attachment method regularly and replace it if it is damaged or worn out.
Shin guards are an important part of the goalkeeper’s gear, but they come in different styles and features that suit different preferences and needs. Goalkeepers should consider factors such as size, fit, coverage and attachment method when choosing their shin guards. Ultimately, the best shin guard is the one that fits well, feels good and performs well for the goalkeeper.