Updated November 2021
Header Image
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 all opinions about the products are our own. 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 all opinions about the products are our own. 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 
Bottom Line

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

Category cover

Buying guide for best youth shin guards

One reason soccer is a popular sport worldwide is because it doesn’t actually cost much to play. All you really need is a ball, and you can improvise the rest for a fun pickup game.

But if your child is on a team, one of the must-have pieces of safety gear is a pair of shin guards. Youth shin guards allow players to reduce their injury risk, and they’re often mandatory for some leagues and teams. If this is your first time shopping for a pair, you’ll soon learn there are many styles to choose from and, depending on which position your child plays, some may provide better protection than others.

To learn more, read our shopping guide with helpful tips for choosing the best pair of youth shin guards. If you’re ready to buy, check out our top picks.

Content Image
All youth soccer players, including goalkeepers, must wear shin guards during competitive game play in nearly all leagues.

Key considerations


When shopping for the right shin guards for your youth player, it’s helpful to understand the three different styles of shin guards. Some will be more comfortable to wear; others will provide a higher level of protection. [If your child is also in need of footwear, take a look at our recommended soccer cleats for kids.]

  • Ankle shin guards: While chasing the soccer ball, younger players will receive a high level of protection with these. This style has extra padding for the ankle area, as it wraps around the shin, protecting against collisions from the sides. It also has a hard plastic shield to protect the shins. Some of these guards have stirrups that stretch under the foot, holding them in place. An additional strap fits around the calf for more support.
  • Slip-in shin guards: The slip-in style of shin guard is the easiest to wear for kids. It slips inside the long socks that the soccer player wears. It allows for the highest level of freedom of movement for players, making it a comfortable choice. However, some socks may not be tight enough to the leg to hold the slip-in guard in place. In this case, you’ll want shin guard tape, a compression sleeve, or a tighter sock to keep the shin guard from slipping.
  • Socks with shin guards: Another good choice for young players who may balk at wearing shin guards is a pair of socks with guards built into them. This type of sock has the shin guard sewn into it or has a pocket for a separate shin guard, which makes these more comfortable for players. Parents never have to worry about the kids forgetting the shin guards at home when the guards are sewn into the sock.
Content Image
Did you know?
Some youth leagues require that players use shin guard tape that’s the same color as the player’s socks.


Outer materials

The exterior of the shin guard needs to consist of a hard material. This protects the shin bone from blows from other players. This front plate often will consist of a hard plastic or carbon-fiber material. Outer plates typically are one piece, but some may consist of two or three interconnected pieces for flexibility.

Inner materials

The material on the backside of the shin guard will be softer to provide cushion when another player strikes the front of the shin guard. It also absorbs the impact of the strike, protecting the shin. Foam is a common inner material for the shin guard. Some players will wear a thin sock under the shin guard to protect against abrasions.


Most youth shin guards are able to accommodate accessories for additional protective features. To make a slip-in shin guard fit tighter, you may want to place it inside a compression sleeve that’s made specifically for a guard. Shin guard tape is another common option to hold a shin guard in place. It wraps over the top of the sock.

"Soccer rules for nearly all leagues require that a player’s shin guard is completely covered by an exterior sock or stocking."

Youth shin guard prices

As a general rule, youth shin guards aren’t expensive pieces of athletic equipment. When purchasing shin guards, they ship in pairs, which ensures you’ll receive a good value.

The least expensive shin guards will cost $10 to $20 for the pair. Typically, these are made for really young children. (Larger shin guards have more material in them and tend to cost more.) Shin guards for preteens may cost $15 to $30. For teenagers, you can expect to pay $15 to $40 for the pair.

Always pay attention to what’s included in your purchase. For example, some basic shin guards may require a purchase of straps, shin guard tape, or compression sleeves separately, which may add $5 to $15 to your purchase.


We’ve put together some tips that can help you determine the best type of shin guard for your child to wear, based on the soccer position he or she plays.

  • Defenders need a heavy shin guard. Defenders, who are the primary defensive players, occasionally will collide with strikers during normal game play. To receive extra protection, they will want to use a thicker shin guard. Some may even want an ankle shin guard for wrap-around protection.
  • Midfielders need an all-around shin guard. Because midfielders can be playing offense or defense at any point in the game, they need both a flexible and protective shin guard. You don’t want an overly thick shin guard that restricts movement too severely.
  • Forwards and goalkeepers need a flexible shin guard. Forwards, the primary offensive players, need the least protection from a shin guard. They need to change direction quickly, so a lightweight shin guard is the smartest choice. Goalkeepers also need to be able to move quickly, so they’ll want a similar lightweight shin guard.
  • Kids without a specific position need an all-around shin guard. If your youth player plays multiple positions, consider a shin guard with both flexibility and protection. This would be similar to the shin guard a midfielder would wear.
Content Image
Shin guards protect players from painful contact to the lower leg and shin. During soccer games, a player striking the ball may inadvertently kick another player’s lower leg, and the shin guards absorb this contact.


Q. Does my child need shin guards every time he or she plays soccer?
If your child is just practicing in the backyard, shin guards aren’t really required. Practices where there’s no chance of your child colliding with another player probably don’t require shin guards either. Shin guards are a necessity during competitive games or practices. Some youth leagues will have specific rules on when and how shin guards must be used.

Q. Beyond soccer, in which youth sports are shin guards commonly worn?A. Some youth sports leagues require shin guards, such as ice hockey, field hockey, lacrosse, and football. Soccer is the most common youth sport for using shin guards. But if your child plays more than one sport, you may be able to use the same shin guards to give you a nice value. Baseball and softball catchers also wear shin guards, but these are larger and designed differently than other sports’ shin guards.

Q. How much of the lower leg should the shin guard protect?
It’s important to select the proper size of shin guard for a youth player. An ill-fitting shin guard will be uncomfortable and restrict movement, and it won’t protect the player properly. The shin guard should stretch from the top of the ankle to just a couple of inches below where the knee bends. Many manufacturers use the child’s overall height to help you find the right size.

Q. What’s the proper way to wear shin guards?
Players often will want to put on long, thin socks and then attach the shin guards over these. They’ll then wear additional socks (or stockings) over the top of the shin guards. The inner layer of socks prevents the shin guards from rubbing directly on the skin.

Our Top Picks