Protection is essential for all hockey players. We have all heard the tales in the clubhouse of the occasional horrific injury, sometimes caused by not wearing the correct protective equipment. So, which shinpads should we be looking at and why?
There are two basic types of hockey shinpad. One has elasticated ankle protection and a stirrup that fits under the sole of the foot. The other is an anatomically shaped protector made from very tough plastic, with a foam backing for comfort. These are also generally asymmetrically shaped – meaning that there is a different shape for the left and right shinpads. They are designed to be worn behind the socks but can be easily slipped in/out if required.
Various gimmicks have been added to this anatomic design to improve comfort – such as Velcro fasteners, mesh coverings and PVC sections over the ankle area.
Generally juniors tend to wear the ankle-stirrup style. Obviously at junior level the ball used is lighter (minis) and the players cannot strike the ball with as much force. Therefore, shinpads like these offer effective protection.
However, there is a major drawback: the shinpad is designed to be worn under the socks – you have to take the socks off to remove or put on the shinpads. This can be difficult and time-consuming for junior players.
The slip-in design is by far the best – hence virtually every manufacturer has one or more variants. In fact the basic design has not changed in over 20 years!!
Comfort and a good fit are important considerations and these shinpads should be available in a variety of sizes from small to large.
Mercian Carbon fibre Pro Shinpad
With this shinpad Mercian have entered the market with a different take – instead of toughened plastic they have used carbon fibre. This maximises protection whilst minimising weight.
The removable, washable backing foam is of a medium density to provide further cushioning from impact and there are two channels within it to aid airflow, reducing heat retention on the shin.
These are a great fit and the protection is awesome and, compared to other shinpads on the market made from carbon fibre, they are affordable!!
adidas Adistar Shinpad
Adidas’ contribution to the market is a 100% thermoplastic polyurethane hockey shinpad. They have a removable interior lining which is washable. In fact the plastic shinpad slips into the liner.
The idea of washable inserts is fantastic, because not only is there the stale sweat to get rid of, but when playing on water turf shinpads get soaked and as a result they can be somewhat smelly.
The difference here is that the shinpads are the same shape left an right. Personally I found them a little uncomfortable.
TK C1 Plus Shinpad
This is your top of the range basic shinpad. Extreme impact protection is provided by the plastic body and they are anatomically shaped with a removable mesh covered foam lining. They have adjustable velcro straps.
Well fitting, comfortable and well worth the cost.
GRAYS G700 hockey shinpad
The G700 is another variant on the standard anatomic design. All the key design features are there, with Velcro straps, mesh and extra foam lining in the ankle area for comfort.
Available in three different colours these are very competitively priced!
GRAYS Shield Junior Shinpads
These are a highly popular high-impact plastic shell shinguard with shock absorbing high density foam lining. There is a fixed soft ankle disc and achilles padding.
Ideal for junior / low level school players, this is a good solid design that is worth considering.
But I have always preferred the anatomic design. I would recommend you get your son/daughter to try putting these on themselves – this may get you to rethink and go for an anatomic pad.