Lightweight build so it doesn't burden a player. Comfortable for long-lasting use. Tight design so they don't shift positions. Great for soccer, skating, and rollerblading.
Tight design leaves marks on foot.
Lightweight polypropylene shell. Hard shell with foam backing for protection. Well-made. Hook-and-loop closure fastens around the front and won't irritate skin. Easy to put on. Not bulky.
May run small, so size up if in doubt.
Comfortable and flexible. Ankle support sleeve for more protection than slip-in style guards. Comfortable. Good coverage and construction. Extra side protection.
Hook-and-loop tab for fastening may irritate some children's legs.
All-in-one sock and shin guard. Comfortable and close-fitting. Ultra-light. Sock is flexible for range of motion. Removable EVA foam inserts for impact protection. Machine washable. Easy to put on and off.
Holes wear in the bottom easily.
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.
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.
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.]
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.
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.
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.
Q. Does my child need shin guards every time he or she plays soccer?
A. 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?
A. 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?
A. 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.