Lacrosse Goalie Guide to Shin Guards
There isn’t really an easy way to say this – getting hit in the shin sucks.
For a young goalie having a great practice or training session, taking a hard shot to the shins can completely take the wind out of their sails and ruin the rest of the practice.
Heck, the same can happen to an experienced goalie.
I’m instantly reminded of a Princeton goalie mic’d up video where Tyler Blaisdell wears one on the shins.
Can’t you just feel the pain?
You can try to shake that blow off as hard as possible but the end result is you’re not going to be as enthusiastic to practice (in the snow!?!) as you were before the shin contusion.
Damn you Marchy…the shins man.
Hits to the shins like this are not without consequence. Over time many lax goalies I know have had to have surgery to repair shin splints or other shin issues caused from repeated blows.
Lacrosse goalie shin guards are optional and many goalies choose not the wear them. The reasons they give vary but I think a lot of it comes down to machismo and tradition.
I do think that several shin guard options offer protection while limiting what they take away in mobility and should be considered for practice by a youth goalie who still might be tepid of shots.
The only drawback I can think of is if a goalie – with his/her newfound protection – suddenly changes their save style. For example, purposefully trying to block the shot with your shin guards as opposed to driving the top hand to the ball and getting your body behind the shot.
For those goalies who do elect to use shin guards, there are several options that I want to cover in this post.
The Shin Guard Rules
By rule, if a lacrosse goalie is going to wear shin guards – or any extra padding for that matter – the padding must not excessively increase the size of the body part.
That means ice hockey or field hockey shin guards are illegal in lacrosse because they increase the size of the limb.
So if the shin guards cannot increase the size of the limb our options are the following (click to jump right to that section):
- Soccer Shin Guards
- Lacrosse Goalie Shin Guards
- Baseball Catcher Shin Guards
- Ice Hockey Player Leg Guards
- Extreme Sports Shin Guards
Let’s dig into each of these.
Soccer Shin Guards
While soccer shin guards are the lightest, they do offer the least amount of protection.
Soccer shin guards won’t cover the knee and depending on which style of soccer shin guard you use, they may not cover the ankle.
But they will cover you from taking a hard shot directly to the shin bone.
There are two options for soccer-style shin guards.
The first option comes with the ankle protection like these Adidas Performance Ghost:
The ankle protection does provide nice coverage for that sensitive area but some goalies claim it slows them down too much. Personally, I don’t think it limits mobility all that much.
The second option comes without ankle protection like these Franklin Super Lights:
This style of shinguard doesn’t limit mobility whatsoever. I’ve heard some goalies argue that it does but if it’s not covering any joints – neither the ankle nor knee, there’s no loss of mobility.
Only a little additional weight which is very negligible with how light they make soccer shin guards these days.
If you go with this style, you can cover them up with high socks or sweatpants. You may want to consider adding a few revolutions of white athletic tape so that they stay put for the entire practice.
If you’re price sensitive, don’t worry as these soccer shin guards are extremely cheap. You can pick up a quality pair for under $20.
Lacrosse Goalie Shin Guards
Understanding that some goalies would like some shin protection several lacrosse companies have come out with lacrosse goalie shin guard products.
These products are marketed to both lacrosse goalies and field hockey players for their shin protection.
Here are the options in this area:
STX Blast –
STX Valor –
STX Contour –
Brine Lacrosse Goalie Shin Guards –
Brine Triumph –
Brine Cempa –
Since soccer players have been using shin guards for a lot longer than goalies, I think the soccer companies have done a better job at advancing their shin guard product in terms of lightness, comfort, and value.
A few of the lacrosse goalie shin guard varities have soft padding which offers more mobility and comfort but sacrifices a little protection. A hard shot to the shins will still leave a mark with these guards but its better than direct bone contact.
The harder lacrosse goalie shin guards work, but for me weren’t as comfortable or as effective as other options.
Several parents and goalies have also written me expressing the same thing – that the lacrosse goalie shin guards just didn’t fit right with a tendency to pinch.
Baseball Catcher Shin Guards
If we’re looking at the scale of mobility and protection, of all the options on this list baseball style catcher shin guards are going to offer the least amount of mobility and highest amount of protection.
Baseball catcher shin guards, in addition to protecting the shins, are also going to provide coverage for the goalie’s knees and ankles.
Wilson Pro Stock Hinge –
But again, of all the options they’ll restrict mobility the worst.
As I mentioned in the intro, if you’re going to use the baseball guards, make sure the goalie doesn’t develop the bad habit of purposefully sticking a leg out to make a save.
The nice thing about baseball shin guards is if you already a softball catcher you might have a pair sitting in the garage.
Ice Hockey Player Shin Guards
Another option that compares to the previous in terms of less mobility in favor of more production is ice hockey player shin guards.
While ice hockey goalie leg pads extend the limb, the player guards do not and this option might even be perfect for the goalie who already plays ice hockey when they’re not suiting up for lacrosse.
Bauer Supreme S170 –
Like the baseball shin guards, hockey leg guards will also cover the knee but not so much the ankles.
If these leg guards are hard enough to prevent injury from slashes and falls to the rock-hard ice, they’re good enough to prevent bruises to our shins and knees.
Alternative Shin Guards
The final category of shin guards that I’d recommend to goalies is something I’m calling alternative shin guards.
There’s a brand that a Lax Goalie Rat reader turned me on to putting out some pretty cool protective pieces.
G-Form Pro-S Shin Guards
G-Form Pro-X Ankle Guard
The shin guards weigh less than 2 oz. so you might even forget you’re wearing them from time to time. They’re closer to the more mobility side of the scale than the more protection side.
They also have a shin guard which includes over the knee protection:
G-Form Pro-X Knee Shin Guard
The G-Form products are not the cheapest but are definitely state of the art in terms of combining protection with mobility.
Also I’ve seen some goalies use the shin guards that are made for baseball players:
EvoShield EvoCharge Batter’s Leg Guard
These have the benefit of being easy-on/easy-off and are formable to the shin. In addition they provide a little “top of the foot” protection.
While they’re not technically shin guards, if you want some additional protection to cover the kneecaps you can always pick up a pair of lightweight knee pads, like these…
Mueller Knee Pads –
With long shorts or sweats, nobody will know you’re wearing these and it will take the sting out of getting hit in the kneecap.
So now that you understand what’s out there in terms of lacrosse goalie shin protection, what is my recommendation?
The first recommendation – wear shin guards in practice.
Some goalies and goalie coaches are against this strategy but not me.
Provided that just because you’re wearing shin guards still make saves with the right way. Don’t start sticking your legs out to block a shot just because you’re protected there.
You can always remove the shin guards for games if you want in favor of full mobility.
Second recommendation – the easiest, quickest, and cheapest is a pair of soccer shin guards like the Adidas Performance Ghost at under $10.
Baseball or ice hockey shin guards, while they do offer a lot of protection, are a little too limiting in my opinion. If you want knee protection with the soccer guards you could always elect for softer style knee pad.
Interestingly enough in a recent MLL game between the Denver Outlaw and the Florida Launch featuring what I think are the two best goalies in the world right now (Jack Kelly and Austin Kaut). Both goalies wore an additional shin/knee pad.
Ok, it’s only one leg. But hey, you gotta start somewhere 😛 Anyone know the brand of that style pad? Not really sure what it is.
I believe they’re McDavid hex pad sleeves which offer the smallest amount of protection of anything in this post:
The more pros rock the much-needed leg protection, the more our game’s youth will feel comfortable doing so as well.
And if you don’t like the look of shin guards, get some long socks or a pair of baggy sweats and throw them over top.
For those goalies who want to cover up the shin bones, there are actually quite a few options.
Soccer style shin guards, traditional lacrosse goalie shin guards, baseball, ice hockey leg guards, and newer extreme sport shin guards will all do the trick.
It’s just a matter of how much protection you want and how much mobility you’re willing to sacrifice.
Personally, I think the easiest, simplest, and cheapest method is to strap on a pair of soccer shin guards underneath your sweats and not have to worry about a shot to the bone taking the wind out of your sails and ruining your practice session.
Shin guards have a bad stigma within the lacrosse community and it’s ironic because shin splints and shin injuries do not.
Until next time! Coach Damon
What sort of shin protection, if any, are you using? Anything else you’d like to see in this lacrosse goalie shin guard guide? Let me know in the comments down below.