Recently I played a game of football with a guy who wore the tiniest shinpads I’d ever seen on an adult. At first I thought it was a one-off but it turns out that a lot of players are wearing small shinguards these days.
In this article we’re going to explore tiny shinpads – who is wearing them, why they’re doing it and whether you’re allowed to do it.
Small shinpads – what do they look like?
If you haven’t yet seen them on a football player near you, small shinpads really can be tiny. If you had to describe it, you’d probably say that they’re the sort that are designed for very small children, but worn by grown men.
It’s easier to see them than to describe them – here’s the ones that I first saw on one of my teammates.
After taking a picture of the shinguard on his leg I asked to borrow them and took a photo of them next to my size 12 (UK size) shoe so you could see the scale of them. That’s my blue foot on the right, just showing you how miniature these shinpads are!
But it turns out that he’s not the only one wearing them. When the question was asked on twitter whether anyone else is wearing tiny shin pads, I uncovered more cases:
— Darryl Thomas (@DarrylMT84) August 25, 2016
Talk about minimalist. These shin pads are even smaller than the ones that I spotted on my teammate. Shinpads surely dont’ get smaller than this.
Well actually, apparently they do. In fact, I thought I’d waded into some kind of high-stakes shin-pad-show-off competition when I saw the conversation that followed the picture above:
The above sample of three players doesn’t exactly count as a scientific study, but it does show that there are a number of people out there all searching for the ultimate minimalist shinpad.
Why do football players wear small shinpads?
You might wonder why players wear tiny shinpads at all – surely if you’re going to wear a pair that small you might as well not wear one at all?
There’s a lot of sense in that. Except for the fact that if you’re playing competitively, the rules of the game require you to wear shinguards.
The reason for that is pretty clear: they’re designed to protect the shin from potential injury. Like this sort of thing….
First, there are players out there who just hate the feeling of wearing shinpads. Whether it’s the discomfort, the bulkiness, or the classic sweaty feeling that comes with them, there are some players who just don’t seem to be able to get used to them.
But secondly, there are players out there who don’t believe that they offer much protection from injury. It’s not uncommon to hear someone expressing the the view that if you’re going to get your leg broken then a shin pad won’t help.
Those sort of injuries are at the dramatic end of the scale, and there might be some truth in it, but shinguards should also act as protection against nasty gashes that can be caused by the studs of an opposition player being raked down the front of your leg. Whether through clumsiness or cold-blooded intent, incidences of this are not uncommon, but are often nasty.
But players know the risk and yet they still decide to chance it. And it’s not just amateur players.
Do professional players wear small shinguards?
You don’t have to look very far for professional players wearing tiny shin pads. Perhaps they’re not as small as the ones that you’ve seen above, but the likes of Tomas Muller, Jack Grealish and John Terry are all wearers of mini shinpads.
Just check out this photo of John Terry putting his shinpad on:
It might look photoshopped and a little out of proportion (but isn’t John Terry’s head always like that – joke), but he is indeed putting on tiny shinpads in this photo. You can see the same shinpads under his socks just by searching images of him playing.
Are you allowed to wear tiny shinpads for football?
So you’re wearing tiny shinpads and you’re complying with the rules of the game – what’s the problem?
Well, actually there is a question of whether you’re truly meeting the requirements. The rules on wearing shinpads (as provided by FIFA) require that shinguards:
- are covered entirely by the stockings
- are made of rubber, plastic or a similar suitable material
- provide a reasonable degree of protection
It’s that last one that’s the problem. Arguably, the tiny shinpad craze isn’t providing adequate protection.
However, referees don’t tend to enforce these rules, and as we saw already there are a lot of professional players getting away with it as well. So for the time being, at least, it looks like the tiny shinpad craze is going to continue to exist.
Ridiculous as you think they might be,there are sillier shin pads around – at least the’re not improvising with a coffee cup like the guy below:
— Ashley Stuart Harper (@MeepMeep17) October 10, 2016
Where can I buy small shin guards?
You need to shop for child sized shinguards. No manufacturers are going to responsibly make shin guards that size for adults.
So, given that they’re so small, it’s best to go to your local soccer shop and check them out. That way you’ll be able to gauge the size and the materials they’re made from.
The good news is that because they’re aimed at kids, rather than adults, they’re usually fairly cheap.