Do soccer players wear knee protection? (detailed explanation)

Soccer players are required to wear shin guards and can choose to wear other protection such as sliding pants and thermal clothing. But what about knee protection? In this blog, we explain whether soccer players wear knee protection. 

Do soccer players wear knee protection:
The majority of soccer players do not wear knee protection. It is also not mandatory to wear it. However, a soccer player may choose to wear it. He does so when he has sustained an injury. A goalkeeper may wear knee protection to have less pain when he lands on his knees.

As you read on, we explain more about why soccer players do or do not wear knee protection. There is also more in this blog. We explain what injuries knee protection can help against, what types of knee protection there are at what other types of sports people wear knee protection.

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As you read in the intro, knee protection is not routinely worn by soccer players. The exact reason for this is not entirely clear. However, we do suspect that soccer players may think that wearing knee protection hinders them in their game. 

However, knee protection can be worn after a soccer player has suffered an injury to the knee. Knee protection is then worn until the knee has fully recovered. Alternatively, the protection may continue to be worn until the soccer player stops playing soccer.

The player in question can no longer play without it due to the injury sustained. 

It may also be that wearing knee protection no longer makes sense either. The injury is such that it cannot fully recover. In this case, the player must undergo surgery. If this too does not work, the player will be forced to stop playing soccer. 

As for goalkeepers, things are a little different. Goalkeepers end up on the ground a lot more. This is because they have to dive or land on their knees to catch the ball.

For this reason, some goalkeepers choose to wear knee pads. These can be incorporated into the goalkeeper's pants or they are worn as separate protection.

What types of knee protection are there?

By now we know that knee protection is worn by soccer players if they have ever suffered a meniscus injury. But what does this knee protection look like. 

Knee Brace
Knee braces look like sleeves or socks. You put this on over your foot and pull it up over your knee. Because it is tight, it provides compression. Because of the compression, the knee has more support and the person wearing it is less likely to twist his knee. 

On the inside is mostly silicone. This ensures that the knee brace does not sag during exercise. 

Note! Many knee bandages contain latex. 

Knee Protection for goalkeepers
Knee protection for goalkeepers comes in two different forms. Namely, it can be incorporated into the goalkeeper's pants or is available as a sleeve or sock. The latter you pull over your foot and extend over your knee.

The knee protection contains felt and/or foam. When a goalkeeper dives or lands on his knees, for example, the knee protection reduces the impact with the ground. 

Are knee injuries common in soccer?

We now know that most soccer players do not wear knee protection. But what about knee injuries in soccer. 

Research shows that knee injuries are in the top 3 most common injuries in soccer. These include a tear in the meniscus. A tear in the meniscus occurs when your foot is on the ground and the knee is rotated in an unnatural position. The weight resting on the meniscus causes a tear. 

This is common in soccer because a player makes all different movements during the game. For example, a player may do a sprint, run backward, run sideways but also have to jump for a head duel or try to outplay a player through a dribble. 


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Why do soccer players wear knee protection?

When a soccer player wears knee protection, he (often) does not do so as of precaution. Soccer players wear them only after they have suffered a knee injury 

Wearing knee protection allows them to return to the game faster. The protection wraps around the knee and provides compression, support and stability. This ensures that any pain is also relieved. 

Some players wear the protection because they cannot play soccer without it. The knee protection provides extra support during games. Because the meniscus is no longer working properly, it can no longer perform all the previously mentioned movements properly. 

Goalkeepers wear knee protection to reduce the impact of a fall. For example, when diving or landing on their knees to catch the ball, the knees can take quite a beating. Especially if the field is very hard because it is cold or if a goalkeeper has to dive to the ground frequently, the knees can start to hurt. 

Is wearing knee protection mandatory in soccer?

A soccer player is not required to wear knee protection during a game. A player may decide this for himself. 

A soccer player is, however, required to wear shin guards. This is determined by the IFAB (International Football Association Board). This is stated in rule 4.2 Mandatory equipment.

Against what injuries does knee protection help?

During a soccer game, the knees are put under heavy stress. This happens while running, jumping, sprinting, etc. Wearing knee protection provides protection to the meniscus in the knee. Knee protection reduces the chances that a player will tear his meniscus.

Goalkeepers wear knee protection which mainly prevents painful knees. The protection makes them less likely to experience bruises or knees that become sore. 

Is knee protection worn in other sports?

Knee protection comes in different forms. For example, there is protection that provides more strength and stability of and to the knee but also protection that makes any fall less painful. 

Knee protection is worn in the following sports*:

  • Volleyball
  • Handball
  • Wrestling
  • Skateboarding
  • American Football
  • Dancing
  • F1

* This is a list of examples, this list is not exhaustive. 


By now you know that soccer players generally do not wear knee protection. However when they have suffered an injury they may wear it temporarily or until they stop playing soccer. 

In particular, the meniscus is a muscle that is sensitive to injuries. In fact, an injury to this muscle is in the top 3 most common injuries among soccer players. 

Curious about more blogs on protection and safety around soccer? Click here for an overview. 

January 28, 2023
Published: January 28, 2023