Best Softball Shin Guards – Reviews and Buying Guide

Choosing the best softball shin guard is incredibly easy. All you have to do is to answer a few questions. What size shin guards do you need? Do you want your leg guard to protect your shin or ankle or the top of your foot? Or are you looking for one that could cover all three?

Getting your answers to these questions right is super important. Only then you’d be able to find leg guards that could protect the bones and soft tissues in your lower extremities from massive external impact. Otherwise you’d be exposing yourself to the risk of preventable severe injuries.

Saving you from serious injuries isn’t the only benefit shin guards provide. The well-designed among them also allow maximum range of motion of the knee and the ankle. This is to say that you won’t feel constricted with these guards protecting your knee and lower leg.

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Benefits of wearing Shin Guards

Here is why the use of shin guards is of utmost importance:

  • Reduced risk of serious injuries: Researchers have been able to connect the dots between shin guards’ usage and a reduced risk of severe injury. That shouldn’t come as a surprise given that these products absorb the brunt of the shock of the incoming projectile.

 

  • Better protection of soft tissues and bones: In contrast to the soft tissues and bones in other parts of your body, the ones in your legs do not have a heavy mass of muscles to hide behind. They therefore need some kind of protection from external impacts.

 

  • Greater peace of mind: Imagine seeing two softball players in action. The first is running around without any shin guard. The other is all padded up. Which of the two you think will be more at ease about his safety? You know the answer so we won’t repeat it.

How to choose softball shin guards – Softball Shin Guards Buying Guide

Besides addressing the questions we raised in the opening paragraph, this section deals with other queries you may have in your mind but was too polite to ask. They include the type of shin guards available on the market, the various materials they are made of, and more.

It’s therefore imperative for you to go through this section before you purchase your guard. That is because you’d then have enough knowledge to make an informed choice. Read on to know how to choose the best softball shin guards:

What size shin guard do I need?

You must strike the perfect balance between protection and comfort when sizing the shin guard. On one end, it should be long (and wide) enough to protect you from those fast incoming balls. On the other end, it shouldn’t be as intrusive as to interfere with your running.

Having said that, getting the right size shin is still a cakewalk. All you need to do is to measure the length from the bottom of your ankle to the middle of your knee. You’d need a measuring tape and must make sure that the size you get is in inches – as shin guards are sized in inches too.

Types of shin guards

Following are the three major types of shin/leg guards:

Slip-in Shin Guards

These shin guards are extremely easy to wear and take off. All you have to do is to slide your feet into them and wear your socks afterward. You can either count on the socks to keep the shin guards from moving, if they’re snug enough. Or you can use a tape to keep these leg guards in place.

Put another way, you have the choice to decide how tightly you want these guards to stay against your body. Which is why older and more experienced players prefer these models as it allows them more freedom of movement. But we don’t recommend them for younger players.

That is because these guards don’t provide the same level of protection as their full-length or ankle-length counterparts offer. For younger players who are just learning the ropes of baseball, they need that extra bit of protection, even if that comes at the cost of their mobility, to stay safe on the field.

PROS

  • Provide huge mobility
  • Small and ultra-lightweight
  • Could be worn under socks

CONS

  • Not recommended for younger players

Ankle Protecting Shin Guards

These shin guards are made of two elements: a protective shell that encapsulates your ankle and a fabric attachment that protects the heel. Both these parts, in turn, serve the dual purpose of keeping your ankle safe from the impact of potential knocks and keeping the guard stable.

Start with protection. Inside these shin guards are two pieces of ABS or plastic that fully cover the exposed anklebone. Throw into the mix the shield they enact in front of your skin, and you can count on them to fully protect your lower leg from any impact.

Then comes their stability. With the two-pieces fabric attachment keeping them firmly placed against your ankle, you don’t have to worry about the guard slipping down while you’re busy in the play. Or the fact that they will come off while you’re running after a stray hit ball.

PROS

  • Protect the ankle
  • Won’t impede movement too much
  • Remain stable during play

CONS

  • Not as comfortable as slip-in shin guards

Full Length Shin Guards

Hoping to get the highest level of protection on the field? Willing to pull out all the stops to ensure your safety while playing? Won’t mind if it costs you a few extra bucks? Then you might want to go for full length shin guards. Here’s why we’re giving this piece of advice.

These shin guards provide the maximum level of protection to your ankles and shins. They do that by running the full length from the bottom of your knee to the bend in your foot. Inside them are multiple pieces of plastic or ABS that cover the entire ankle bone to save it from any potential knocks.

You won’t have to do anything to keep them in place either. These shin guards have an elastic band at the top and a stirrup at the bottom to prevent them from moving. You can therefore play with the comforting knowledge that the guard won’t get dislodged or slip down your leg during the game.

PROS

  • Offer maximum protection
  • Stay in place with ease
  • Are ultra-stable

CONS

  • Restrict mobility

Material of construction

The softball shin guards are made of one of the following materials:

Carbon Fiber Shin Guards

Most shin guards out there aren’t capable of gripping against your shin. You’d feel from the moment you wear them that they have a tendency to slide down. This feeling won’t let you focus on the game and might also expose your shins to a potentially severe blow.

Thankfully, carbon fiber shin guards do not suffer from this shortcoming. They provide an excellent grip that keeps them from sliding downwards. These shin guards are also extremely lightweight and won’t make you feel that you’re running with added weight on your legs.

And the best thing about carbon fiber shin guards? They last much longer than their peers made of plastic or ABS. That’s because their sturdy build allows them to withstand the impact of fast moving balls and enables them to last for years.

PROS

  • Last for ages
  • Won’t slide down
  • Offer added protection
  • Is ultra-lightweight

CONS

  • Won’t come cheap

ABS Plastic Shin Guards

Here’s one thing you need to know: ABS plastic shin guards are mostly made of two materials. They have an ABS shell forming the outer layer and a thick foam padding coming into contact with your skin. This dual-layered construction makes these shin guards long-lasting and comfortable to wear.

Take comfort first. All of us know from experience the soothing feeling which comes when a thick EVA foam comes into contact with our skin. Sure, it might provoke a few drops of sweat in hot and humid conditions. But that’s its only drawback.

Then comes the longevity of ABS outer shell. Experts remind us that this plastic has a high tensile strength which makes it incredibly resistant to massive impacts. It also allows ABS to keep going strong after years of heavy abuse and usage in inclement weather conditions.

PROS

  • Competitively priced
  • Withstands years of abuse
  • Very resistant to physical impacts
  • Has incredibly high tensile strength

CONS

  • Manufacturing process of ABS is damaging to the environment

Kevlar Shin Guards

There was once a time when only football shin guards were made from Kevlar. That was eight years ago. The past few years have seen softball shin guard makers take a leaf out of the book from their counterparts serving the football industry.

The result of this approach is the introduction of Kevlar softball shin guards. You might already know that Kevlar is the same material used in bulletproof vests. What you might not be aware of is the fact that it consists of multiple layers capable of working together and dissipating the energy of an impact.

You might want to note that, just like ABS shin guards, those that are made of this seemingly bulletproof material also have an inner thick padding. One that would come into contact with your skin and is responsible for providing adequate grip.

PROS

  • Offer a great deal of protection
  • Disperse the energy of impact
  • Has the potential to last for years
  • Lightweight yet sturdy

CONS

  • Super expensive

Padding and Double Panel Kneecaps

Here’s why you must go for shin guards with both these features:

  • Wraparound Padding: Wearing shin guards with wrap around benefits will provide you two benefits. The first of which is that the added layer provided by padding will take out the force from the incoming impacts. And it will also allow you to stay fully focused on the game.
  • Double Panel Kneecaps: What are the two incidents that can befell you at any time while playing softball? Wayward swinging bats and wild pitches. Double panel kneecaps, by increasing the level of protection against both, will ensure your safety on the field.

Shin Guard Accessories

  • Shin Guard Sleeves: Most of you might think that shin guard sleeves serve only one purpose – of keeping the shin guards in place. That isn’t the case. They also protect the skin from coming into contact with the hard outer skin and suffering irritation.
  • Shin Guard Tape: How firmly you want your shin guard to grip your skin? You’d be able to answer this question much better with a shin guard tape in hand. It also only allows you to wrap it over the guard and keep it in place while you’re out there in the middle.
  • Shin Guard Stays: Their name fails to make it clear what shin guard stays are all about. They are reusable replacement for shin guard tapes as they allow you to secure the shin guard with VELCRO closures. Some of them also have a hook-and-loop closure for the same purpose.
  • Ankle Guards: Never heard about ankle guards before? Perhaps you should search for them if you’re serious about the safety of your ankles. These products erect a visible barrier between your ankle and the incoming projectile, thereby saving the latter from the former.

FAQs

Q: How to wear shin guards?

A: Make sure you aren’t wearing any socks. Then start by inserting your foot inside the guard and sliding it past your ankle and up your shin. Make sure the guard is perfectly centered, not off to either side.

Then fasten the straps and make sure they are tight. You might want to tape your guards if you feel that the straps haven’t tightened them enough. Finally wear your socks – they shouldn’t be too tight or their combination with the tight shin guards might impede blood flow.

Q: How often should you replace shin guards?

A: Most professional players keep on using the same pair of shin guards for up to 2 years. The reason for such longevity lies in the care the shin guards get from their users.

As you can keep on using your shin guards for much longer if you regularly wash them with warm soapy water before giving them the option to air dry outdoors.

Q: How should a shin guard fit?

A: All the shin guards you see above fit snugly. They remain more than 2’’ below the knee and cover the majority of the area between the knee and the ankle. This allows them to provide maximum protection without impeding your freedom of movement.

Q: How to keep your shin guards from sliding?

A: There are various techniques using which you can keep your shin guards from sliding. You can either wrap a shin guard tape around them. Or you can slip a pair of shin guard sleeves – up to one size smaller than the guards – over the guards and the socks.

Q: What is the difference between baseball and softball shin guards?

A: There are mainly three differences between baseball and softball shin guards. The former tend to weigh lighter and have smaller toe guards. Aside from that, softball shin guards have a double knee cap, in contrast to baseball shin guards which are mostly equipped with a triple knee cap.

 

All-Star System 7 Axis Leg Guard

Product

Multiple features of the All-Star System 7 Axis Leg Guard set it apart. Foremost among them its massive 23 color range that lets you pick one suiting your taste. The variety of patterns is so huge that you’d be hard pressed to not pinpoint one meeting your requirements.

Then comes its pivoting hinge design. All-Star claims that it’s inspired from motocross and we haven’t been able to find any reason to disagree. The ease and the speed with which you can strap this leg guard on and take it off would surely delight motocross fans too.

Equally noteworthy are its single top strap and reinforced double knee protector straps. The former remains behind the knee at all times and keeps this leg guard from falling. The double knee protector straps, meanwhile, enhance its durability.

It also has a repositionable center knee pad to help you get the perfect fit. Its rear side is lined with diamond vents to ensure breathability and weight reduction. And the best thing about this softball shin guard? A stainless steel matte black hardware that could withstand abuse for years.

PROS

  • Stainless steel matte black hardware
  • Protective and maneuverable design
  • Diamond vents ensure breathability

CONS

  • Won’t come cheap

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Adams USA Softball Umpire Low Profile Leg Guard

Product

What is it that sets apart this leg guard from the one we reviewed above? Start with price. You can get three Adams Umpire Leg Guards for the price of one All-Star 7 Axis Leg Guard. Does that mean this product has cut corners to keep its asking price low? We’re afraid to say that’s true.

The All-Star 7 Axis is available in 23 colors and various sizes. You can as easily find one for a 12-year old as you could for an umpire. That isn’t the case with the Adams Leg Guard. It’s available in only two sizes – 15-inches and 17-inches – and one color. You don’t have many options with this one.

Though it makes up for this shortcoming. Adams has punctuated this leg guard’s design with 7mm ventilation holes to ensure breathability. Their size is big enough to allow easy air flow in and out of the guard, thereby ensuring that it doesn’t get too humid beneath your socks.

Most shin guards made for softball players have to strike a balance between ease of movement and protection. This product, since it only targets umpires, has no need to perform this balancing act. Hence why it goes all the way down to the center of the wearer’s foot to afford maximum safety.

PROS

  • 7mm ventilation holes
  • Affordable asking price
  • Sturdy and durable construction

CONS

  • Available in only one color

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All-Star Vela Professional Fastpitch 14.5″ Leg Guards

Product

Here is another pair of leg guards that won’t weigh lightly on your pocket. The All-Star Vela Professional Leg Guards have everything you need to keep your shins protected from the blows of fast moving balls, wild pitches and wayward swinging bats.

These shin guards come with DeltaFlex harness that eliminates the need of having a strap behind the knee. The harness also makes them a must-have for players who practice and play in shorts, since there won’t be any pointy straps digging into your skin.

All-Star has also equipped this product with adaptable knee- and shin-pads. Both of them allow you to adjust the leg guards whichever way you feel is conducive for your ease of movement. Though they won’t let you move freely at the cost of your safety. Here’s why we’re so sure.

These shin guards are made of impact resistant plastic which, though not as sturdy as ABS or Kevlar, comes pretty close. Together with the full wing padding (which you can adjust) and wraparound sides (which ensure the best fit), the plastic upholds maximum standards of protection.

PROS

  • Available in eight colors
  • Adjustable padding, knee pads and shin pads
  • Wraparound sides and UltraCool ventilation

CONS

  • None

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EASTON JEN SCHRO The Very Best Female Catchers Leg Guard

Product

 

Most high-rated softball shin guards cost a lot of money. Others that won’t blow a hole in your pocket do so at the cost of cutting corners. The Easton Jen SCHRO leg guard belongs to the first category. It pulls out all the stops when it comes to features but requires you to pay a sizable amount.

Take the example of its improved shell design. It features a contoured shape to amicably wrap around your shins and knee to provide a perfect fit. This allows the design to form an almost perfect covering around both these parts, thereby shielding them from potential blows.

You don’t just have to count on this leg guard to obstruct blows. It has an all new Inner Knee Padding Plus IKP+ that lets this guard even distribute the impact of blows. This allows it to reduce any pain and bruising on your inner knee that often comes after blocking throws.

That is not all. Easton has equipped this shin guard with neoprene knee straps that minimize discomfort from rashes or discomfort. It has also provided it with extra padding for extra comfort and has further sweetened the deal by offering this product in three sizes and nine colors.

PROS

  • Reduces pain and bruising on inner knee
  • Improved shell design helps it wrap around your shins
  • Added padding at the shin area for extra protection

CONS

  • The large size is pricey

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Mizuno Samurai Fastpitch Softball Women’s Shin Guards

Product

We have a confession to make. All those pricey shin guards that you saw above aren’t that pricey as you might have thought them to be. Especially once you juxtapose their price tags with that of the Mizuno Samurai Fastpitch Shin Guards. This model is by far the most expensive of the lot.

Though it does have its reasons to charge an astronomical price. How many shin guards on the market can claim to have Mizuno’s patented K-pad? One that strikes the perfect balance between maximum knee protection and superior on-field comfort. That isn’t the only unique selling point of this product.

Other shin guards that we saw above were lined with holes at specific points. This one is made of a fabric that is porous from head to toe. The air mesh lining, as Mizuno prefers to call the arrangement, ensures optimal breathability while also keeping a lid on this product’s weight.

That is not all. It is also one of those few guards that come with a strap covering the arch of the foot, thereby ensuring that the guard doesn’t shift when you’re squatting into the catchers’ position. You can thus count on them to take a few blows and not transfer the full impact to your knee or leg area.

PROS

  • Offers above-par comfort and protection
  • Strikes the perfect balance between mobility and safety
  • Prevents shifting while squatting into catcher’s position

CONS

  • Straps could be of a better quality

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EASTON PROWESS Fastpitch Softball Catchers Leg Guards

Product

 

Three features of the Easton Prowess Fastpitch Leg Guards set them apart from their competitors. First among them is their 2-piece design. It allows it to wraparound your skin in the area between your knee and the bend in your ankle, thereby keeping it safe from any potential impacts.

Second, their interior is lined with Poron XRD memory impact absorption foam. You may not have heard about it before but that is no reason to doubt its effectiveness. Just ask industry veterans. They’d tell you that its ability to absorb and dissipate the impact of blows is second to none.

Third, these leg guards have been provided with straps at strategic areas. The one just below your knee will prevent it from shifting sideways (or up and down) while you’re squatting into the catchers position. Another at just above the ankle area will keep it in place too.

That isn’t to say that everything about these leg guards is hunky dory. The padding on the interior could be thicker and the color range might have been a lot bigger than the four options that it’s currently available in. Though none of these shortcomings seem to us as deal-breakers.

PROS

  • Two-piece design ensures perfect fit
  • Strategically placed straps keep the shin guards from moving
  • High-end padding absorbs and dissipates the impact of blows

CONS

  • Size runs bigger

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G-Form Pro-S Elite Shin Guards

Product

Those of you willing to try something different would do well to five the G-Form Pro-S Elite Shin Guards a try. They are primarily aimed at football players but can also be used by softball catchers as well as umpires who don’t have to move much.

The first thing you’d notice on putting these shin guards on is that they are extremely comfortable. Like the sort of comfortable that will make you forget their presence in the heat of the battle. But they won’t forget keeping your shins safe. Here’s how.

These shin guards are made of an external flexible shin guard and internal SmartFlex pads. The former is no hard shell and thus provides better comfort. The latter, meanwhile, stay easy on the skin and won’t cause rashes or bruises. And the best thing about them? The duo meets NOCSAE standards.

Yet another feature of these shin guards that surprised us is their extended size range. You can order them in four sizes including small, medium, large and extra-large. And once they’re done protecting your soft tissues and bones for the day, you can give them a tumble in your washing machine.

PROS

  • Machine-wash safe
  • Meet NOCSAE standards
  • Soft and flexible inner padding
  • Impact-resistant exterior

CONS

  • Run small so you may have to order one size bigger

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Conclusion

There are four things you need to keep in mind while shopping softball shin guards. They include the type you want for yourself, the material of construction of the guards, whether they have enough padding on the inside and do they have the required double panel knee cap.

Seems like you can’t wrap your head around these factors? Then you might want to skip the previous paragraph and select your favorite softball shin guard from the list mentioned above. All the products fit the criteria that we want you to follow when shopping on your own.

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