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Could mini shin pads be a thing of the past in pro football?

Mini shin pads have fast become a popular choice among footballers of all levels – but could they become a thing of the past due to safety concerns?

For those of you who are not familiar with mini shin pads, they are exactly what they say on the tin.

A much more compact equivalent to the traditional full length shin pads that were first conceived in 1884. These tiny pads are of the same contoured design as the traditional pad, simply covering far less of the player’s shin.

Jack Grealish famously sports a set of mini shin pads during matches.
Jack Grealish famously sports a set of mini shin pads during matches. Image credit: MediCaptain

Despite being adopted by elite players such as Jack Grealish, Naby Keita, and Paolo Dybala, there have been growing safety concerns that could threaten the legality of these tiny shin defenders in the professional game.

Why do players wear mini shin pads?

The main benefits of wearing mini shin pads over more traditional full-coverage items are plainly obvious – speed and mobility.

Manufacturers of this new-age design of shin wear take somewhat of the opposite tactical approach to their traditional counterparts.

Whereas full-coverage shin pads were often designed, and subsequently chosen by players, based on the amount of protection that they offered – these new pads are all about being as lightweight and anti-cumbersome as possible.

This design of course leaves a far smaller area of a player’s shin protected from the common impacts that they are subjected to whilst playing the beautiful game.

In fact, Naby Keita’s pads are so small that they have been likened to an Apple AirPods case!

Naby Keita's mini shin pads are so small they have been likened to 'Apple AirPods'.
Naby Keita’s ‘Apple AirPods’ mini shin pads. Image credit: The Independent

Should they be allowed in the game?

The safety concerns surrounding these tiny pads have lead to discussions as to whether or not they should be allowed in the game at all.

In fact, the BBC have reported that many grassroots leagues across the country have already banned mini shin pads.

Safety concerns, especially for players not at elite level were reported to be the cause for the ban across those leagues.

Although it could be argued that the professional game has, as a result of various rule changes over the years, become less and less physically dangerous to players, there have still been injuries occur that may well have been prevented if the player involved was wearing traditional protection.

One example of this is Espanyol winger Aleix Vidal’s shin injury in September of 2021.

As you will see below, Vidal suffered a serious gash to his lower shin when playing against Real Betis – a blow that would have been protected with traditional shin pads.

Vidal’s injury reportedly required 15 stitches to close up, and begs the question of whether his choice of shin protection is really safe enough for players to be wearing.

Could Alex Vidal's injury could have been prevented if he had been wearing traditional shin pads over mini ones?
Could Alex Vidal’s injury could have been prevented if he had been wearing traditional shin pads? Image credit: The Sun

Remarkably, shin pads weren’t required to be worn at all until the 1990s, when FIFA made it mandatory for players to sport them during matches.

However, with health and safety paramount in today’s professional game, it may well be the case that mini shin pads are abolished for good – or at the very least governed to a minimum size in order to further protect players from injury.

Looking for a new set of shin pads? Why not check out our list of the Top 5 shin pads for under £30?

Do YOU think that players should be allowed to wear mini shin pads in professional football? VOTE BELOW and let us know!

Should mini shin pads be BANNED?