Ice hockey is one of the most physically demanding and brutal professional sports in the world, and it’s famous for its raucous crowds, fighting players, and impressive displays of agility, speed, and strength.
To be able to take all this punishment as safely as possible, hockey players don a veritable suit of modern armor to protect their bodies and bones from the worst injuries and punishment that a game of ice hockey can dish out.
All of these different elements of a hockey players kit are important, and while helmets may be the most important of all, shin guards are high on the priority list too due to the speed hockey pucks can travel, as well as other hazards such as wayward skates and sticks which can all threaten to cause serious injury to hockey players.
Fitting hockey gear can be really difficult, however, especially for beginners or players returning to the sport, as well as players using a new piece of equipment like fresh shin guards.
The fit of this protective equipment is key to ensuring it functions properly and keeps the wearer safe.
Without it, players can get caught out and there have been many instances of players taking all the right precautions still getting hurt in hockey, which is why it’s necessary to take every step seriously to minimize this outcome.
In this guide, we’re going to look at how to put on and fit shin guards so you can benefit from the best protection possible and continue enjoying hockey free from worry, while also ensuring your kit doesn’t weigh you down or become uncomfortable while you play as this can spoil the fun of the game.
How to Fit Shin Guards
Putting on shin guards is quite simple, as long as you have a pair that fits you effectively.
There can be some small differences when putting them on depending on the particular brand you use so there may be some small adjustments you’ll have to make based on this.
First, you’ll want to place the shin guard against the front of your shin bone firmly, holding it in place with one hand at the front of the shin.
Most shinguards then have a strap located just below the knee area which you can use to secure the upper part of the shin guard to your leg by pulling it around the back of your leg and velcroing in place to the velcro strip at the front of the shin guard.
There is then likely to be another strap lower down by the guard just above the ankle. Perform the same maneuver again, strapping the guard firmly in place, but not too firmly to cut off circulation to be uncomfortable.
After this, your shin guard should be quite secure and once you’ve put on your hockey socks and taped the socks up your shin guards they should be secure.
There can be some movement that will occur during a game due to the vigorous movement the pads have to deal with, but this will often be minor and is easy to adjust on the fly during breaks off the ice.
As mentioned earlier, there may be some small differences depending on the brand of shin guard you use, but most designs will follow this pattern quite closely.
It’s quite common for hockey players to develop their routine when gearing up, due to superstitions as well as pure habit, and this is a good thing to do to keep the protection consistent and ensure you get used to the fit of the guards.
Why are Shin Guards Important?
Shin Guards are important because hockey pucks can travel at over 100 mph, and if a solid rubber puck hits you in the leg at this speed, it can fracture bones and even break them, or at the very least cause significant damage to tendons and other delicate body parts.
Aside from this, wayward hockey sticks and skate blades can also come into contact with players and their legs as there are often falls, scrambles and intense physical battles and contact as players compete against each other for the puck and victory.
Without shin guards career-ending injuries would be so common there would scarcely be enough players to fill a single franchise, so you can see the importance of protecting players.
Why is a Good Fit Important?
A good fit is important not only for safety but also to ensure that players don’t lose too much performance and can still play the game well.
Things have come a long way and hockey gear manufacturers continually work to improve the fit and protection of shin guards and other equipment offers.
Well-located straps, modern materials, and ergonomic designs ensure that you don’t lose power or precision in your skating or stick handling, while still making sure you are as safe as possible.
What Size Shin Guard Should You Get?
This will depend largely on key measurements such as your height, weight, and the size of your legs, however, the major brands of hockey gear take care to ensure their various sizes of shin guards are made to fit most people very well at different sizes.
If you’re a shorter person or have smaller legs, a small-sized shin guard would likely suit you best. If you’re of average height and leg size, a medium would fit you best, while obviously, a large set of shin guards would suit taller and broader players.
There are also various sizes appropriate for children and adolescents to ensure everyone can be protected properly.
If you’re in any doubt, most brands have very effective sizing charts and guidelines you can refer to on their websites or as part of their product specifications.
An even better way to ensure you get a good fit is to visit a skate shop in person and try on a few different sizes and pairs to get a set of shin guards that work best for you.
How you put on your hockey gear can be quite a personal ritual. Some people like to listen to music while others like to discuss tactics or hype up teammates.
But regardless of this, ensuring that you have a well-sized shin guard and follow the same routine when you equip it you will benefit from excellent protection while playing hockey and be able to reap the benefits of this protection without losing performance or finesse while you skate and play.