Saturday, 19 November 2011

Shinguards Should Protect Properly

What is the primary purpose of the mandatory use of shinguards or shinpads for players?

An England player wearing a pithy and pathetic excuse for a pair of shinguards during the recent international friendly against Spain on 12 November 2011. England won 1—0.

Shinguards are used for protection. In the referees' opinion, shinguards should offer reasonable protection, but what is reasonable? At the moment, the material of shinguards appears to be the only factor in determining the value of what is or is not "reasonable". For instance, the use of cardboard as shinguards is considered unreasonable at one end of the hardness scale, just as the use of stainless steel shinguards is unreasonable at the other end. Reasonable shinguards are made of material that fall between these two extremes because they offer protective and shock-absorbing properties whilst being lightweight and comfortable.

But what about size? Should the size of shinguards relative to the length of a player's lower leg be used to consider whether shinguards offer reasonable protection? It is about time that shinguard size relative to a player's lower leg size should be a factor. By applying the Laws of Physics, and for shinguards of the same material, the larger the surface area it covers, the more protection it offers both in terms of the total area of protective coverage and in terms of the dissipation and distribution of the incoming force.*

Basically, the larger the size of shinguards relative to the length of a player's lower leg, the better the odds in favour of protection. Referees, players, coaches and spectators should be made aware of this.


*This same principle of mechanics explains why someone who steps on your foot will likely do serious damage if they wore shoes with high stiletto heels compared with shoes with low, flat and wide heels. Ouch!

1 comment:

  1. Testify!

    I was playing keeper once. Forward had a breakaway, 1-on-1 with me. I came out of the area to sweep the ball. Never left my feet. He zigged, I zagged, our shins met over the ball. Me? Sore shin for three weeks. Him? Double compound fracture. The difference? He wore crappy little shin guards, and I wore something that would not have been out of place at Agincourt.

    Now that I ref -- game in 90 minutes -- I just make sure that the players have some sort of legal shin guard. Without backing from the association, it's not a battle you can win, as the coaches will just get pissed off and make your game miserable from the beginning. (Instead of the customary several minutes wait ...)

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