We have all seen Englands Jack Grealish with his socks rolled down and appearing to not wear shin pads, but sorry to break the news to those of you who may be admiring his bravery, especially as he is the most fouled player in the Premier League, but he does indeed wear shin pads, all be it very small ones!
Not only are shin pads a requirement by most football governing bodies like the English FA, they are also a very good idea! So in answer to the question, 'should my child wear shin pads?' the answer is definitely yes, and always!
So what age should they start wearing them? Although when children are only 4 or 5 years old they won't be very forceful with their kicks, it's still best practice to wear shin pads, so our recommendation is that as soon as a child starts attending Soccer practice, they should do this wearing shin pads. Shin pads should be worn for matches and training, both indoors and outdoors.
Shin pads can protect a player in a number of ways, the main protection they give are as follows:
1) They can help reduce the impact of heavy knocks or tackles and can potentially stop a fracture.
2) They can protect a player from studs or blades being dragged on the shin.
3) Some of them even come with ankle support so can give players additional support when twisting and falling on the ankle.
Unfortunately shinpads do not guarantee to prevent injury, but they certainly help reduce the risk of serious injury.
Some shin pads seem to irritate children, so when you see a child wearing their shin pads on the outside of their socks, it's probably not because they don't know how to wear them, or that they may want to look like some kind of retro 1980's Robocop, but more likely because children find them itchy directly on their skin. I'm not sure if there is a general way to avoid this, other than to try different types, or even consult a Doctor to try and establish any specific allergy or eczema.
There are two-two mainmain types of Shin pads. These are a Slip-in Shin guard type or the more robust Ankle-Shinguard.
The Slip-in will offer less protection, however for young children, this might give them adequate protection and are certainly easier to put on than the more elaborate Ankle Shinguard.
The Ankle Shin-Guards are much more elaborate, they need putting on before the boots and socks are on, however, they will give much better protection and as mentioned above they can often give the ankle good support. Some people find this type restrictive and uncomfortable though, and I imagine that's why Mr. Grealish prefers the Slip-in type.
As with everything, you get what you pay for and the general price range for Shin protectors is £5 to £35.
Four Four Two magazine have written a review on some shin pads available, that can viewed by clicking here