Best Kicking Pads

Updated April 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

23 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
180 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best kicking pads

Last Updated April 2020

When we look at professional fighters, we often focus solely on the competition. We picture one night under the bright lights in which glory, money, and pride are all on the line. But fight night is just a small part of a fighter’s life. Fighters are in the gym nearly every day, drilling, sparring, and refining their skills for combat. This grueling training takes a toll on the body, which makes protective gear like kicking pads all the more important.

Kicking pads are used by the highest-level professionals, first-day amateurs, and everybody in between to ease the strain of training. They’re typically held by coaches or training partners to allow kickboxers, mixed martial artists, and traditional martial artists to practice their kicks without inflicting damage. They’re constructed of leather or synthetic leather and vibration-absorbing foam padding, and they sometimes feature forearm straps and grips for stability. 

Kicking pads come in all shapes and sizes to accommodate different kicking styles and are typically simple and easy to clean. But with so many types of kicking pads available, it can be hard to choose among them. Read on as we break down the various options to help you find a kicking pad that’s right for you.

As with any martial art, building up your fitness outside of kickboxing training will only amplify your techniques. Improved fitness helps not only the kicker but the pad holder as well, because holding pads for extended training sessions can be surprisingly fatiguing.

Key considerations

Size and shape

You might think all kicks are the same, but in reality, there are thousands of different ways to launch your leg at something. Speed, power, and accuracy vary greatly between techniques, which places a huge amount of importance in buying the proper equipment for your style. There are three main styles of kicking pads: TaeKwonDo-style pads, kickboxing-style pads, and low-kick pads. 

TaeKwonDo-style pads are the smallest and lightest options. Instead of absorbing impact, these pads are used to improve accuracy and speed for high kicks and spinning kicks, techniques that are commonly found in TaeKwonDo and similar martial arts. Trainers typically hold them away from their body as a target rather than tightly against their own body. Boxing gloves are commonly used as a substitute for these pads in training. 

Kickboxing-style pads are larger, thicker, and heavier than TaeKwonDo-style options. Geared toward the powerful round kicks and knees of Muay Thai (Thai boxing), these products are held tight to the trainer’s body and absorb a significant amount of impact, allowing students to develop explosiveness and power against a real target. 

Low-kick pads, also known as strike shields or kick shields, are the largest pads. They’re held low against the trainer’s thigh as opposed to their torso, allowing the kicker to aim for the legs without risking injury. These are an absolute must for Muay Thai training, as Muay Thai is a striking art based around low kicks. 

Padding thickness

Just because you’re buying a large kicking pad doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be thick enough to protect adequately. That because, even within the confines of a particular style, you can still find a wide range of padding thicknesses. 

Think about the type of training you’ll be doing before buying. Are you training with a group of novice kickboxers who are still working out the basics? In that case, you may not need the thickest, most expensive product on the market. If you’re working with a powerful striker, though, you’ll be thankful for every molecule of foam your kicking pad has, so go big. This is particularly important if you’re going to be drilling round kicks, spinning back kicks, clinch knees, or other particularly heavy strikes.

DID YOU KNOW?

Kick pads come in all shapes and sizes, but for increased protection during kicking drills, some trainers wear a fully padded torso shield. This also gives the kicker more freedom with their kick placement, allowing them to flow through techniques freely.

Features

Stability straps and grips

Kicking pads are relatively simple tools, but there are a few features that set different products apart. Notably, stability straps and grips on kickboxing-style pads, and ergonomic handles on kick shields. These features primarily exist to reduce fatigue for pad-holders, but they also increase the amount of control on the pad itself. This can cut down on the number of deflected kicks and dropped pads in training.

Colors and designs

The only additional feature to keep in mind is the aesthetic of the pad itself. This may seem like a minor thing, but if you want to represent your home country, your gym, or simply add a bit of unique flair to your kicking sessions, seek out a flashier product for a personal touch.

EXPERT TIP

Like a new pair of shoes, kicking pads require a break-in period before they’re at their best. The tried-and-true method is to simply train with them to loosen up the foam inside, but if you’re worried about hurting your shins on a hard pad, consider using shin pads at first.


Staff  | BestReviews

Kicking pad prices

A kicking pad’s purpose is to take abuse, so it will naturally wear out over time. Thankfully, they’re not a huge investment, with high-quality products available for well under $100. 

Inexpensive: For $10 to $25, you can purchase a well-made TaeKwonDo-style pad with sturdy leather and a comfortable feel. You can also find basic kickboxing-style pads in this price range, but they have less padding, less of a curve, and less-comfortable straps than spendier units. 

Mid-range: Budget $25 to $50 and you suddenly have a plethora of exceptional products to choose from — awesome TaeKwonDo pads, high-end kickboxing pads that are built to last, and even entry-level kick shields. 

Expensive: At the top of the range, you’ll be spending $100 or more for the best of the best. This is the price bracket with the toughest leather, the thickest padding, and the most ergonomic handles and straps for smooth training. You can find large kick shields and padded torso shields in this range as well. 

DID YOU KNOW?

In Southeast Asia, you’ll often see Muay Thai fighters conditioning their shins by kicking banana trees.

Tips

  • Stay clear-eyed. When holding pads for a strong kicker, it can be tempting to close your eyes on impact. Don’t do it. Always keep your eyes open and on the target, or you may move the pad accidentally and miss it, causing injury. 

  • Hold tight. If you’re holding a kicking pad, always hold it tight and close to your body. Not only does this present a realistic target for the kicker, it prevents you from being hit with the other side of the pad on impact. Tighten your core to prepare for the kick. Then, breathe out and reset after each strike. 

  • Protect your feet. When executing a powerful round kick like a Muay Thai low kick, land the kick with the shin or instep of your leg, not the foot. This protects the small, fragile bones in your feet from damage, and it’s the most effective way to deliver a powerful kick because the shin is very strong. That said, there are exceptions with strikes like the front push kick.

Other products we considered

Martial arts culture is enormous and ever expanding, so there’s no shortage of protective equipment on the market. Beyond our list of top choices, we also like the Sanabul Battle Forged Muay Thai Pads. These kickboxing-style pads are extremely well made, with an attractive design bolstered by thick stability straps and grips on the back. It’s a fantastic mix of modern design and classic feel. 

Another impressive option is the RDX Kick Shield. Its open design allows martial artists to train punches, kicks, knees, and other strikes freely. It also features several protective layers that combine compressed foam with expanded padding and gel inner-lining for maximum absorption. 

If you’re interested in martial arts competition — whether it be point karate, professional kickboxing, or mixed martial arts — drilling with kick pads is only half the battle. Integrate safe, calculated sparring sessions to get you ready for the real thing.

FAQ

Q. What’s the best way to clean and store my kicking pads?
A. Kicking pads are made from molded foam and either synthetic or real leather, so they can stand up to a good deal of abuse. However, a little TLC goes a long way. The important thing to remember is to dry your equipment after every use, because if moisture builds up over time, it can cause mold to grow, odors to form, the risk of infections to grow, and rips to open near the seams. This is particularly true if you live in a hot, humid climate. As far as cleaners, seek out natural products like Dettol or other sanitizers, and wipe the pads down thoroughly before storing. 

Q. How do I know when my kicking pads need replacing?
A. The lifespan of your kicking pad depends on how much and how hard you use them. A professional fighter who kicks like a mule will wear out a pad quicker than a young learner, and your area’s climate can have a significant effect as well. Cold, dry regions are friendlier to the foam and pad that makes up the majority of kicking pads and shields, while tropical climates will cause wear to accumulate much faster.

Rather than changing pads after a set amount of time, look for the signs of wear like an increasingly concave shape, compressions in the padding, tears in the leather, and of course, additional impact being felt by the pad holder. 

Q. Why are some kicking pads curved while others are straight?
A. When shopping for kicking pads, you may notice that some models have a completely flat kicking surface while others are slightly curved. A curved pad isolates the strike more, reducing the risk of the kicker’s leg sliding off and potentially hurting the trainer. It’s also less painful to practice with for the kicker. Yes, these curved, kickboxing-style pads cost a bit more, but if you want to get serious about martial arts, it’s worth your investment.

The team that worked on this review
  • Andrew
    Andrew
    Writer
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Steph
    Steph
    Web Producer

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