Sportsmart Football Manager, Andrew McCaig
Wearing shinguards has been compulsory for about 20 years. Over this time, the shinguard has evolved with remarkable changes. Now, with the latest materials being used, shinguards are much lighter and less cumbersome. With a large selection now available, everyone should be able to get the perfect fit.
A correctly fitted shinguard should cover about 75% of the tibia. They should not be worn too close to the knee or ankle; about 4cm should be allowed at each end so as not to impede mobility or touch.
I recommend all young children up to the age of 10 be encouraged to wear a shinguard that offers ankle and achilles protection. Getting used to the extra protection at an early age lessens injury risk and teaches them to identify a safer shinguard as they become more independent with their choices.
A shinguard that offers velcro strapping at the top and bottom also delivers more stability and lessens the chance of movement. Many shinguards now come with removable ankle protection which gives the guard a better fit over the tibia, then pulling on the ankle protection attachment. Well fitted, a shinguard should be snug around the shin and ankle, not protruding at the side of the calf like wings. This also allows any severe contact on any area of the shin to be absorbed and spread through the guard, reducing the impact on the area of contact.
Players should be aware that referees are instructed to inspect shinguards, which should be completely covered by socks/stockings. A referee can refuse a player permission to play should they feel their shinguards do not offer suitable protection.