When Buying Shin Guards, Is Smaller Better?

Mar 29, 2023


There’s a new(ish) trend on the pitch—small shin guards. Maybe you’ve noticed a growing number of pro soccer players wearing tiny shin protection. And like so many others, you’re probably asking why. 

Tiny shin guard phenomenon

Is Naby Keita Wearing AirPods As Shin Pads? That was the title of an online article published in the fall of 2021. It brought the tiny shin guard style and a player, in this case, Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita, under the microscope. Speaking of Naby Keita, he’s probably the most famous player to wear shin guards like this in recent years. There’s also Everton striker, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who sometimes wear tiny shin guards as well. Who knows who’ll be next. 

Why players are wearing them 

Let’s be real—wearing shin pads isn’t always fun. For advanced players who value feeling unencumbered, shin guards may feel restrictive and some get extra sweaty (and irritable) wearing them. That’s especially true when wearing the bulky ones that look like wings.

Some players feel like shin pads don’t protect against injury as much as officials think, which is untrue because even if they can’t prevent all injuries, the right ones can prevent a lot of them. And then other players like to feel aerodynamic and weightless on the pitch. Shin pads can eliminate that feeling and take players out of the zone. 

But, of course, rules are rules, so players have to wear shin pads regardless. That’s why the tiny shin pad movement was born—to bridge the gap between feeling comfortable and following regulations. 

Is it a good idea?

It depends. If we’re talking about young players developing their game, then we’ll say no. We don’t recommend bulky shin pads either, but those tiny shin pads aren’t doing much. Tiny shin pads are the equivalent of holding a seatbelt to prevent a police stopover but knowing that if you don’t actually buckle it, there’s no protection. 

For most players, we recommend regular-sized shin pads that hug the lower leg, without jutting out. Plenty of lightweight options exist that offer reasonable protection without looking like leg wings. 

However, if you’re at the pro level and want to maximize your mobility, then smaller shin pads may help. We still don’t recommend it. Just remember Jack Grealish who also prefers tiny shin guards … and missed eighty-three games in the 2018/19 season due to a shinbone injury. We’ll let you make the connection there.  

We’ve got you

We don’t carry shin guards, but we carry leg guards—the BodyShield series— that have a pocket to put shin pads in. Once inserted in the pockets, you zip it shut. There’s no need to manually adjust any straps once your shin pads are in. This works for all shin pads, whether you follow our advice to wear regular shin guards or opt to rebel and wear tiny ones. 

Our BodyShield leg guards also provide additional protection in the form of flexible padding that absorbs impact forces, in addition to what a shin pad provides. That means kicks, tackles, and falls that affect the shins will feel cushioned and less painful. 

And for those of you who hate the sweaty irritation some shin pads have, you’ll love these leg sleeves. They’re moisture-wicking, pulling sweat up through the fabric so it evaporates and doesn’t cling to skin. You’ll feel cool and dry throughout the game. 

Small shin pads are trendy, but that’s all

Small shin pads aren’t better. Neither are big ones. Your best bet is to get shin guards that feel lightweight yet snug on your leg. Finding these is easy though—you just have to try on different fits. 

Our BodyShield leg guards contain a pocket that will allow you to fit different sizes, but, naturally, you’ll find that medium-sized, snug ones fit best in it. Bulky ones will be out. It also adds protective features that smaller pads don’t, while removing the irritations that bigger pads bring. 

Looking for shin protection you can rely on? Check out our Storelli BodyShield Leg Guards for no-nonsense, irritation-free coverage! 

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