The three priorities
  1. I would strongly recommend that you ensure your shinguard comes up to 1-2cm below your patella. The reason for this is anything below the knee is generally considered a “foot” in the rules of hockey. As your game develops, you are trained to put the ball on an opponent's foot or shin to win a free hit when under pressure, so it's good to be protected!
  2. The level of protection required tends to increase as you develop your game! You will find that some coaches will allow children to wear football shin guards up to a certain age. This is because the power they put into the ball is quite low, so a football shinguard is acceptable; it is designed for low speed impact with another person or a bag of air to strike it. Once you are looking at some decent power in the ball, often puberty is the trigger for this, you need proper hockey shin guards. At the age of 12 (although it may be worth consulting your hockey coach for confirmation) players should be wearing hockey specific shinguards.
  3. Comfort is the final consideration. Some are ergonomically designed to suit the channeling action of the game. We tend to shepherd the ball carrier side on, so it makes sense to focus protection on the outside of the leg. This allows greater range of movement and reduces the shin pad's weight.The other matter will be the materials used to construct the shinguard. Foam can be a bit irritating to the skin, but can be mitigated with an undersock or shinliner.
Recommendations

At Decathlon we are pleased to deliver shinguards appropriate for beginners, intermediate and experienced players. The Grays Shield and Dita Champs are great for kids, the straps ensure it is a good fit and the ankle stirrup means the children can’t accidentally leave them at the pitch - great for parents!

The Grays G600 shin guards provide more protection and are ergonomically suited to the game. They have breathing holes to allow ventilation and reduce sweat. These are fine for any level of play.

Finally the Adidas Hockey Shinguard provides a similar level of protection but also comes with a removable sock, which allows the regular hockey players to not worry about stinking the room or car up when washing them.

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Grays G600, ergonomic fit shinguardlink