The more you get into field hockey, the more appealing all those accessories seem to be. Sure, you can try it with friends without too much hassle at first. With time, you will realize how important it is to have some gloves or the right shoes, not to mention shin guards.
Protection for the lower leg is often overlooked. I made the same mistake. You think about it – what could go wrong? Just wait until a 50MPH ball hits you in the lower leg and almost breaks it. You will understand what I am talking about then.
You do not have to be a professional player to find the best field hockey shin guards on the market. At that level, it is obviously mandatory. But even when you play against friends, chances are you might get hit by a ball when you least expect it.
In the best case, you will get a bruise, some swelling and purple skin for a couple of weeks – that was my case. In worse situations, a speedy ball can break your bone or cause a fracture. This guide will help you decide on the best field hockey shin guards on the market at an amateur level.
What to look for in field hockey shin guards
Based on my research, there are two types of shin pads you can buy these days. The classic one is the most popular one – entirely based on hard plastic. There are lots of brands out there and you will find products ranging widely in price. These guards are similar to those you see in football, only they are larger and made of hard plastic.
The second model I could find is rounded. It is also made of hard plastic, but the interior features a thin layer of foam. Given the foam, it clearly has a bit more flexibility. I tried both options and this one seems to hold in place much better. Protection is also higher, but then, it has a drawback – it is less comfortable than the classic option.
Some versions feature a strap. I know some people who never need straps, but personally, I feel like they provide more stability. You do not want the pads coming off or feeling restricted in your movements, so I actually recommend the strap. Not only does it make guards more comfortable, but it also adds to your playing style.
If you want to take this venture even higher, you can also find shin guards with ankle socks. Again, this option is likely to hold the actual guards in place much better. At this point, it is no longer about stability, but about protection. This kind of design ensures a decent amount of protection for your ankles as well – no more exposure.
The contour padded alternatives might be the best field hockey shin guards due to their flexibility and comfort. Simply put, they are made from various materials – just not hard plastic. They also come with more padding, so comfort is a plus. They are not as popular as I thought though – in fact, hard plastic seems to dominate the market because of the high level of resistance.
Now, what else should you take in consideration? Think about the maintenance. They will most likely get sweaty and dirty, especially if you play field hockey outdoors. Most guards can be hand washes but stay away from really hot water, as it can disintegrate them. Wearing socks between the pads and the skin will also help with maintenance. Some products can be machine washed, meaning some of their parts are removable.
Now that you know what type of field hockey shin guards you can find on the market, what are the best-rated products out there? Why are they so popular and what makes them so special?
Top 5 Field Hockey Shin Guards
STX Hinder Field Hockey Shin Guards
I have tried the best field hockey shin guards from STX because the company is famous for field hockey accessories. I must say – I was not disappointed at all. Basically, you got a pair of beautiful, sturdy, lightweight and durable guards for your games – what else can you ask for?
The set comes in two sizes – small/medium and large/extra large. The small/medium version measures 13.5 inches in length, so measure your current guards or your legs. The larger version measures 14 inches in length – not such a big difference, but worth some attention.
The plastic shell is quite flexible and unlike my expectations, it is not heavy at all. Flexibility also helps with the fit. On the inside, you have a padded liner. Not only does it add to your protection, but it will also clear shocks, reduce vibrations and boost your comfort.
STX Field Hockey Reversible Shin Shield
STX does not fool around when it comes to innovative designs. I will be honest with you – I bought these shin guards for field hockey only because they looked different. This is not the average set you find in commerce and I must say I was quite surprised.
The design is unique and patented by STX. You have black on one side and white on the other one. You can use the guards in any position, so at least you have some flexibility in terms of colours. The design is open at the back, which lets moisture out and improves ventilation – kudos for that, STX!
I also loved the material – lightweight and easy to dry if you play on a rainy day. A couple of straps will keep the guard securely in place. On the inside, there is also a more comfortable liner that helps reduce vibrations. These shin guards only come in two sizes – adult and youth. They are highly adjustable due to the flexible material though.
Harrow Probot Shin Guard
Harrow’s best field hockey shin guards will not disappoint. I bought this set only because it came in more sizes – not many more, but many. You have small, medium and large options, which provide some flexibility after all. The set is quite basic and comes in one color combination – white and black.
You have full protection over your shins, but you may also protect the balls of your feet if the shoes are not tall enough, as you have some extended parts on each side. The thick plastic shell is durable and has some holes for ventilation.
Other than that, I liked the removable liner – great for maintenance.
GRAYS G600 SHINGUARDS
GRAYS has created some of the most professional accessories for field hockey. When I found out the company did shin guards too, I simply had to check them out. This is one of the models with the highest value for money.
These guards feature a solid shell with a raised central area to prevent injuries. They are extremely lightweight and come with some holes for top-notch ventilation. They come in three different sizes – small at 10 inches, medium at 10.5 inches and large at 11 inches.
As for the inside, you have a comfortable foam to reduce vibrations.
The G700 model might bring in the best field hockey shin guards out there – I know they worked for me. They provide full protection – more than 10 inches of protection against fouls, tackles, balls and sticks. They fit perfectly due to some new technologies from GRAYS that allow anatomically fitting the leg.
Worried they may fall or drop during a game? Elastic fastening is an option every manufacturer should take in consideration. You have two strap fastening systems, so your guards will never move during the action.
Finally, you got lots of comfort due to the soft mesh covering. The interior is also upgraded with some foam – not only is it more comfortable, but it also helps with the fit.
Bottom line, shin guards represent a necessity in field hockey – no doubts about it. The question is – what are the best field hockey shin guards? Some people will love a particular model, while others will swear by another one.
What truly matters is to identify your needs, make sure you know what to look for in shin guards and make an informed decision based on your expectations. Differences between one model and another might seem irrelevant, but small details will surprise you.