When playing hockey, one area of your body that’s very susceptible to impacts is your shin area. Opposing players might slash, you might have the courage to block shots, and you can fall on your knees while trying to fish the puck out of the corner. Your shins need protection, so the right size is critical.
Your shin guards should be long enough to touch the top of your skates, about the entire length of your lower leg. The shin guard should rest comfortably under the skate’s tongue and not move about, but some players prefer to use it over the tongue. If a shin guard is too long, the skate might push it up, and if it’s too short, it will leave some areas uncovered.
A shin pad shouldn’t be intrusive. You shouldn’t even feel it, just when it protects you from a slash or a puck. Read on to find out how you fit the guards properly and learn the tips you can use to choose the right size.
How to measure your leg to find the right shin guard
A shin guard’s size depends on two factors: whether you use them over the tongue or under the tongue. According to the website Ice Warehouse, these are the measurements you need to consider in each case:
If you use the skate OVER the tongue:
Sit down, with your skates on, at a 90-degree angle. Measure, in inches, from the center of your kneecap to 1″ below the top of your skate’s tongue. Use this measurement to choose your shin guard.
If you use the skate UNDER the tongue:
Sit down, with your skates on, at a 90-degree angle. Measure, in inches, from the center of your kneecap to the top of your skate’s tongue. Use this measurement to choose your shin guard.
What are the general shin pad sizing guidelines?
While manufacturers produce different shin pads with particular sizes, there are general references you can use to guide yourself when buying shin guards. In general, there are three sizes: Youth, Junior, and Senior.
If you’re wondering what size hockey shin guards you should buy, the following chart depicts how these sizes vary, according to the website Hockey Monkey:
Hockey Shin Guard Sizing Chart
|Shin Guard Size||Knee Cap to Ankle (in.)||Height (ft.)|
|Youth||7″||6 – 7″||3’3″ – 4’5″|
|8″||7 – 8″||3’9″ – 4’7″|
|9″||8 – 9″||4’3″ – 4’9″|
|Junior||10″||9 – 11″||4’5″ – 4’11”|
|11″||10 – 11″||4’7″ – 5’1″|
|12″||10 – 12″||4’9″ – 5’4″|
|Senior||13″||12 – 13″||5’5″ – 5’9″|
|14″||13 – 14″||5’7″ – 5’11”|
|15″||14 – 15″||5’9″ – 6’1″|
|16″||15 – 16″||5’11” – 6’3″|
|17″||16 – 17″||6’1″ – 6’3″|
|18″||17 – 18″||6’3″ +|
These are general guidelines, and manufacturers have specific sizes, so be sure to check their measurements.
How should hockey shin guards fit?
The best way to check whether a shin guard fits properly is by trying it on. The first thing you will notice, regardless of whether you use it over or under the tongue, is that there are no gaps or that the guards are loose. Gaps mean some areas of your legs aren’t covered when the shin guard’s sole function is to protect your legs.
Ensure that your knee rests at the dead center of the knee pad, sometimes called knee doughnut, due to its shape. When the knee fits comfortably in this position, you ensure an adequate range of motion when your skating. When your knee doesn’t rest at the center, the shin guard might inhibit your skating.
If your shin guard is too short, there will be visible gaps between the skates and the guards. These gaps are a risk as your leg is partially unprotected from slashes, pucks, or even skate blades. Keep an eye for these gaps when buying gear for younger players, as they can outgrow their equipment fast.
Another aspect to consider is your ankle width. Some manufacturers have included options for skaters with narrower and wider ankles.
What to look for in a shin guard?
Depending on the brand and quality of materials, shin guards will go from $60 to $160 or upwards a pair. All shin guards have a protective external plastic shell, made up of two parts; one protects the knee and the other the shin.
The cheapest shin guards only have a thin plastic cover and a thin foam lining. These can break easily and aren’t recommended for competitive matches, as one slash or a fast puck can injure you.
Mid-range shin guards will have more robust plastic and thicker linings. They might also feature more oversized flaps to cover your calves as well. The most expensive shin guards have the thickest foam available, plus stronger straps and more calf protection.
Is there any maintenance to hockey shin guards?
Shin guards are low maintenance items. In fact, a high-quality guard can last for years. But there are some tips you can use to extend the life of your guards.
The first tip is to dry the equipment immediately after the game. Doing this helps in ventilating it and avoiding odors, but it will also prevent moisture buildup, damaging the foam.
Also, most mid-range and high-end guards will have a removable lining. Remove this occasionally and wash it. If you don’t wear anything between your legs and the shin guards, you might consider doing this more frequently.
Finally, check for cracks. If you see one, you don’t have to throw the shin guards away, but it might expand as you play more. Once the guards are cracked, however, the protection will not be the same.
What can I wear under the shin guards?
Shin guards can rub against your legs, and, in some cases, players can develop rashes. The first step you can take to avoid your skin suffering any condition is airing and cleaning your shin guards. But if your skin is too sensitive, or you just prefer to have a layer between your guards and your skin, you can opt for a base layer.
A base layer is a piece of clothing that hockey players can wear underneath their gear. It’s designed specifically for hockey, so the fit is just right will not bunch up. Base layer pants come in two varieties: short and long.
If you have a rash and would like to prevent it, you can buy base layer pants to fit between your shin guards and your skin.
Tape is an excellent tool for adjusting your shin guards.
We’ve spoken about finding the right size of shin guard for you and how to measure them, but when it comes to playing, your shin guards might need just a bit more adjustment.
Most mid-range and expensive shin guards have Velcro straps to fit them over your legs. If you prefer to have a snugger fit, you can use tape to increase the snugness.
Tape is a great tool to further conform the shin guard to your legs’ shape, but it also helps keep the guards in place to prevent them from moving around.
Do hockey goalies wear shin guards?
Goalies do not wear shin guards. Though it might seem logical to fit a hockey goaltender with as much protection as possible, shin guards aren’t ideal for wearing under goalie pads. Given that pads are already bulky, a shin guard adds to the cumbersome feel and restricts mobility.
Goalie pads have enough protection for the shin area, but goalies might look for more protection. In this case, you can buy knee pads. These offer protection and cushioning against pucks and the repeated impacts against the ice. Knee pads cover the knee area in general while being small enough not to interfere with mobility.
As you have seen in this article, shin guards are essential when it comes to protection. If you are a skater at a competitive level, be sure to look for the best shin guards you can find; there’s no better sensation than knowing your legs are protected.
Fortunately, fitting them is easy, and they are longer-lasting items. With multiple brands and sizes, there is one out there for you. Shop around until you feel comfortable.