Youth: Leg Protection for Goalkeepers- Don’t Overlook It
Jan 1, 2019
***This article is part of an educational series for soccer parents and youth players new to soccer***
It’s easy to assume that goalkeepers only need to worry about their hands and fingers when protecting themselves against injuries. But that’s simply not true. Although goalies have a significantly lower risk of sustaining leg injuries due to tackles from opponents, they’re extremely susceptible to leg injuries due to contact with the ground.
In fact, if they fail to protect themselves from a lower-body injury, they could be in for a nasty wakeup call that may keep them sidelined for quite some time. Most goalies know to wear at least some leg protection, but it’s worth looking deeper into how they can fully protect their lower body.
Leg Injuries that Soccer Goalie Protection Can Prevent
Some of the most dramatic moments and plays on the pitch involve the goalkeeper. Whether it’s a striker who’s on a fastbreak towards the net or a corner kick attempt, goalies often find themselves pulling off stunning acrobatic feats. That may include leaping to deflect a ball or bravely charging towards the ball to get it out of the box.
Any of these moves can result in a serious leg injury.
Take the knees and shins, for example. Close contact with a strikers foot can occur, where the front tip of the attacker’s cleats strikes the goalies front leg or if the player knocks the goalie over with a slide tackle.
Goalies may also slide from time to time in order to save a scoring attempt. This exposes them to turf burn injuries and the painful abrasions that come with them.
With injuries of this sort being a reality for goalies, it’s important for them to invest in the right protective gear for their legs and overall lower body safety.
Shin Guards - Soccer Protection Goalies Can’t Do Without
As was mentioned above, goalies can occasionally injure their knees (and shins) when overly-aggressive strikers come into contact with them. The best and simplest way to reduce the severity of these potential injuries is with the use of leg guards (armored sleeves that hold shin pads in place), shin guards and knee guards.
Knee guards specifically offer a high level of resistance to impact forces placed upon the knees, whether that be from falls on hard turf or hard kicks from opposing players. The best knee guards also offer stability without being too restrictive for goalies’ performance.
Turf Burn and Impact Resistant Gear - A Must-Have in Soccer Goalie Protection
Goalkeepers don’t find themselves sliding as much as players in field positions do, but there are still moments where they too have to ‘surf the turf’. With that said, it’s essential that they prevent turf burn, which can easily turn nasty if not properly addressed, and painful impact injuries (caused by dives that put a lot of strain on specific body parts upon landing).
For example, turf burn abrasions are not only painful and unsightly but also, prone to infection. Antibiotic-resistant staph infections can creep into the turf burn wounds, leading to serious and sometimes life-threatening illness. That’s why it’s important for goalkeepers to protect their legs with protective gear that reduces the friction generated by turf slides.
Fortunately, there are a few options to help goalies out with turf burn and impact protection. For the lower leg, keepers should consider wearing turf burn knee sleeves since the knees are especially sensitive to this injury. To fight impact, knee guards help immensely, as well as leg guards that protect the sides of the legs.
Goalkeeper pants and leggings can also help to prevent turf burn and impact injuries, especially if they are layered with resistant padding. Ideally, this protective gear will safeguard players against other harsh surfaces and weather extremes, the latter of which can adversely affect soccer performance.
In terms of weather, conditions such as strong winds, cold and heat extremes and even moisture levels can affect players’ concentration and comfort levels. If both drop, players will likely be less productive on the pitch. That’s why it’s important for players to choose legwear - pants, sliders, leggings and shorts - that suits the climate and season they’re playing in. It’s a small consideration that makes a big difference for performance.
Soccer Protective Gear Prevents Leg Injuries in Unsuspecting Goalies
Goalkeepers won’t limp off the pitch with leg injuries due to tackles as much as players in other positions will, but they are at very high risk of leg injury due contact with the pitch. That’s why goalies are better to be safe than sorry and actively take steps to reduce the risk of lower-body injuries.
With the use of knee guards and turf-burn or impact-resistant apparel, goalies will not only increase their safety but also, their confidence. The added reassurance of having an even lower risk of leg injury will give them a mental advantage to dominate even when they’re under pressure.