Know your shinpads
Elite physio Neil Mason runs the rule over four guards, each built to protect your moneymakers
LAST LINE OF DEFENCE
What this pad lacks in ankle protection, it makes up for in shin protection. The classic multi-stick design helps to absorb blows effectively and wraps around the leg for a more individual fit. On the down side it’s big and bulky, which may not suit players who want to feel like they’re wearing a sock not a book. However, bruising defenders who repeatedly crash their legs into fleet-footed strikers may want to invest.
SAFEGUARD AGAINST RAKING TACKLES
The supporting sleeve keeps the shin plate in position, which is handy when you’re a lone striker on the wrong end of a centre-back’s reducer. This extra layer of skin around the calf muscle can limit flexibility, but the compression supports blood flow and reduces swelling if you take a knock. The ankle guard looks like something out of RoboCop, but it offers maximum protection from flying studs.
BUILT FOR CLOSE QUARTERS COMBAT
This pad is ideal for a little terrier entrenched in the muck and nettles of a midfield battle. With a large, solid pad covering the shin it’s ideal for absorbing the impact of a crunching tackle and the ankle guard will armour plate your joints from enemy fire. However, this type of pad is clunky and can restrict movement. Not for the twisty speed merchants.
FLEE FROM KAMIKAZE CHALLENGES
Built for speed, but not for safety. Lightweight and small, they’re perfect for a nippy winger looking to reduce the drag from air moving past their whirring pistons. Unfortunately, while the shin is covered, the ankle is vulnerable to the full force of a scything tackle. This is the most natural way to wear a shinpad, which is why it’s the chosen pad of most pros, but with just two straps to keep it in place it can you leave you exposed.