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It's imperative that you wear soccer shin guards every time you play, but you also have to wear them correctly. If they slip down your shins, don't fit properly, or cause discomfort, then they won't do you any good. Don't go thinking that you're safe without them, either. Your shins deserve complete protection whether you're practicing with your friends or going head-to-head with a rival team. Your legs are your most valuable assets and your most vulnerable body parts in soccer. You have to wear shin guards to stand out as a confident, competent player. Trust me, no one's going to think you're cool or tough just because you're the only soccer player with bare shins. Odds are they'll take advantage of your weakness instead.
Wear soccer shin guards that match your skill level.
Every soccer player needs to wear shin guards, but all soccer players are different. Naturally enough, that means that they need different guards. Advanced players know what they like, having likely experimented with an assortment of shin guards over their playing careers. Young players require more substantial shin guards than older ones. Newbies won't yet know what they like or what feels comfortable. Think about your skill level first.
Pull out the measuring tape.
Next, you need to get precise measurements of your legs. It might help to have two hands. Younger players will definitely need some assistance, but even adults can ask someone to hold the measuring tape. Place one end of the tape just below your knee, two inches maximum. Measure down to the spot where your ankle bends. To be fully protected, you have to wear soccer shin guards that cover that entire area.
Think about your position.
Your position affects the way you wear soccer shin guards, too. In the defender position, you need thick, heavy guards that cover your ankles. Midfielders need flexibility just as much as full coverage because the position depends on freedom of movement. If you're a forward, then lightweight shin guards that are as small as safely possible are your best bet—they'll let you dart around the field at top speed. The best shin guards for soccer goalies is an entirely different game, as they don't need as much protection as defenders and still need a decent amount of mobility.
Slip into your guards.
There isn't much variation in the world of shin protection, but you do have to choose what type of shin guard you prefer. Slip-in shin guards slip under your socks. They're typically lighter, so they don't restrict movement or cause leg fatigue. Advanced players tend to wear soccer shin guards that they can slip on because they crave ease of motion.
Cover your ankles.
If you want hardcore protection, then opt for ankle shin guards. They offer more protection than slip-ins because they strap on over the shin and possess padding along the ankles and shin bones. That not only protects the ankles from any wayward kicks, but also reduces the risk of a sprain. Ankle shin guards generally have stirrups that secure beneath the feet, which helps to hold them in place. Most, but not all, come with ankle guards. Let's be honest though, you don't want to be wearing shin guards without adequate ankle protection anyway.
Fit them properly.
No matter which style you choose, you have to ensure your shin guard fits. If the guards don't fit securely, then they're of no use to you. Make sure that any straps are adjustable enough that they aren't straining to lock around your calves. For players who choose to wear soccer shin guards that slip beneath their socks, pick out sheaths that are neither too tight, nor too loose.
It's just smart to wear soccer shin guards with socks, but the socks you wear are entirely up to you. Some players prefer ankle socks; others prefer full-length shin socks that cover their calves. Consider going with a compression sleeve or compression socks. In addition to guarding against varicose veins, improving circulation, and providing stability, they offer an extra layer of protection and cut the chances of a sprain.
Get extra support.
As briefly mentioned, you might need to buy shin guards with ankle protection. Your ankles are vulnerable, and they're the weakest point of your leg. Shin guard sleeves are helpful, as well, but they're usually only necessary if you wear slip-in guards. They help to keep your guards in place. You don't want them puddling around your ankles.
Secure your shins.
You never want to wear soccer shin guards that aren't secured in some way. The way you run around the soccer field, it's easy for your guards to loosen up or slide down if they aren't firmly held in place. Experiment with shin guard tape, which you can wrap over your socks, or shin guard stays, which use hook-and-eye closures to keep your shin guards where they're supposed to be.
Monitor the adjustments.
For younger players especially, your shin guards need to grow with you. That's why ankle shin guards are often preferable for kids and teens playing the game. You can adjust your straps and closures as necessary. Regardless of age, pay attention to any changes in the fit of your shin guards and adjust them accordingly so that they remain comfortable. Wear soccer shin guards that are too tight, and you could damage your circulation and muscles.
Search for the seal of approval.
High school soccer players have something else to worry about. It's not a big deal, but it's a crucial detail. Before purchasing shin guards, check to make sure that they carry a stamp of approval from the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment. The NOCSAE seal ensures that you're wearing soccer shin guards that have been approved for high school players.
It doesn't matter how good you are, how long you've been playing, or how you play. You might be a high school superstar, a college stand-out, or an amateur footballer. You need to wear soccer shin guards whenever you're on the field. Knowing how to choose the right soccer shin guards makes the process all the more easier.