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Best football shin pads for 2021

Everyone needs a reliable pair of shin pads, so we’ve picked out some of the best you can buy right now.

a selection of the best football shin pads

There’s nothing worse than a quick kick to the shins. It takes just one mistimed tackle, just one flick of a defender’s leg, and suddenly you’re lying on the floor desperately trying to hide the tears in your eyes. And failing. 

So, it’s a good job some wonderful human-being created football shin pads, then. With a decent pair of shinnies strapped to your legs, you can go flying down the wings without fear of falling down in excruciating pain. You’re definitely not invincible, but suddenly that beefy Sunday league centre-back doesn’t seem quite so terrifying. 

Choose the wrong pair, however, and you’ll soon be turning slower than the team bus in the peak of rush hour. Although you could try styling them a-la-Grealish, a clunky pair of shinnies will always make you feel uncomfortable out on the pitch, so you’ll need to make sure you’re buying the right size and shape for you. 

Since this can be a bit of a nightmare, we’ve picked out the best shin pads you can buy in 2021 - with a little something for all positions and budgets. Right then, let’s dive straight in (but without hurting any shins in the process).

7. Under Armour Flex

The fantastic Under Armour Flex shin pads seem like a good place to start. I’d be lying if I told you it’s the coolest design you’re ever going to see, but these lightweight beauties will give you the freedom to glide effortlessly around the pitch. The name is probably an absolutely massive spoiler here but, boy, these shinnies are flexible

The UA Flex features tiny holes all over the shell - which may sound odd for something which is supposed to keep you protected. However, these pads are still ridiculously durable, while the holes provide fantastic ventilation to keep them very light and breezy. When you turn them over and see the comfy 3mm of foam, you’ll realise you could do a lot worse than these. 

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6. adidas Performance Ghost Pro

My word, these are snug. In fact, some may find them a little too snug, since the narrower fit of the adidas Ghost Pro certainly won’t be for everyone. Either way, these pads slot seamlessly into the accompanying compression sleeves, wrapping firmly against your legs without having to worry about any itchy straps. Not bad at all. 

Things get even better when you realise that those sleeves actually keep you a bit warmer and toastier during the winter months - though they perhaps wouldn’t be my first choice in the midst of a heatwave. The metallic design is nothing short of sensational, offering pretty much everything you need from your shin pads while being shamelessly flashy about it. Beautiful.

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5. Puma Pro Flex

Yep, the Puma Pro Flex is pretty darn loud. I mean, just look at that picture above - you might actually need to grab some sunglasses first. If you’re brave (or talented) enough to get away with wearing bright yellow boots, then these shin pads might just serve up a match made in heaven. 

Once your eyes have adjusted to the insanely bright designs, you’ll find it delivers all the comfort, protection and durability you could really ask for. As with the adidas Ghost, some may find the compression sleeves a little too tight, but the EVA foam interior always feels soft and snug against the leg.   

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READ | Our guide on everything you need in your football bag this season.

4. Nike Charge

If you’re just after a standard pair of shin pads, you could do a lot worse than the Nike Charge. Once you get over some of the absolutely insane colours you can buy, you’ll notice that this is a pull-on stirrup design which keeps the pads locked firmly in place. The stitching could probably be a bit stronger, but these are just about as reliable as shin pads can get. 

The real highlight here, however, is the contoured foam on the back. While you should expect all modern shinnies to feel pretty comfortable, the Charge essentially feels like it’s an armoured extension of your leg. They might look a little bulkier than others on this list, but you can take it from me that you’ll eventually forget you’re even wearing them. Until you get kicked that is.  

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3. G-Form Pro-S Elite

Okay, yeah, these are a little expensive, but the G-Form Pro-S has been nothing short of revolutionary. If you’re after some premium, high-end shin pads this season, then you’d have difficulty finding a better bang for your buck. These are elite shin pads, so I guess it’s only natural for that to involve some elite prices. 

Unlike most other guards, the Pro-S combines the padding and the sleeve together in one seamless design, meaning that you never have to worry about them slipping out of place. Just as importantly, this RPT soft padding isn’t simply soft and light, but also hardens on impact to serve up the best protection money can buy. 

Of course, there’s no need to take my word for it - let your mates have a few swift kicks and you’ll see what I mean. 

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2. Adidas X 20 Pro

Just like the boots of the same name, the adidas X Pro is all about speed, speed and, that’s right, even more speed. While wearing a pair won’t turn you into the next Kylian Mbappe, these shin pads use a lightweight compression sleeve to make sure you can really unleash your explosive pace (if you have any). 

Inside, you’ll find some rather innovative moulded EVA cushioning, which is designed to wick away any excess moisture and keep your legs dry. Obviously, this means you’ll feel a lot more comfortable when working up a sweat, and you won’t need to keep bending down to readjust them every five minutes. Very comfortable and very, very fast. 

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1. Nike Mercurial Lite

The Nike Mercurial Lite serves up the best of both worlds. If you were to combine the premium feel of the G-Form Pro-S with the speed of the adidas X Pro, then this is exactly what you’d end up with.

These Mercurial shin pads balance awesome protection with a low profile and lightweight feel, letting you move with complete freedom. Most players absolutely hate it if their shin pads feel too heavy or cumbersome, but these are so light you’d be forgiven for having to check if you’re actually wearing them. 

The snug compression sleeve ensures they’re ridiculously easy to get on and off, while each pad is designed specifically for both the left and right leg. This is hands-down the best choice for any speedy wingers out there, but they’re also strong and comfortable enough to suit just about everyone. That’s exactly why they’re top of this list. 

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All of the above shin guards will help you make the best possible start to the season. To make sure you save some extra cash, compare prices at FOOTY.COM and bag the best deal possible. You’d probably be a little silly not to. 

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Ben Hyde

Rubbish FIFA player with an addiction to buying football shirts which are way too cool for me.