Why do soccer players wear ankle protection? (full explanation)

Soccer players wear all kinds of protection. Including protection for the ankles. Younger soccer players in particular wear them. In this blog, we explain why soccer players and especially young soccer players wear these. 

This is why soccer players wear ankle protection:
Soccer players wear ankle protection for more strength around the ankles. This makes the foot less likely to sprain, reducing the chance of injury. Ankle protection also acts as protection for the skin. An opponent's slide is less likely to cause injury since the ankle protection is in front of it. 

When you read on, we will go into more detail about why soccer players wear ankle protection. However, we explain even more in this blog. For example, we explain what injuries ankle protection works against, what types of ankle protection there are and which is best.

Why do soccer players wear ankle protection?

As you read in the intro, there are two reasons why soccer players protect their ankles. We'll explain more about the two different reasons:

For more strength around the ankles
The ankle is made of two different joints. One is called the upper ankle joint and the other is called the lower ankle joint. Both of these are quite flexible. Because of this, they also have the potential to bend. We also call this spraining. 

Ankle protection wraps tightly around the ankles providing more strength. This makes the ankle less likely to sprain when a player lands after a jump, sprints or dribbles the ball left or right. 

To protect the skin and tissue beneath it
When a slide is made by the opponent and the ankle is accidentally hit, the skin can be damaged. Especially when the studs come into contact with the ankle, the skin is especially vulnerable. In this case, the tissue under the skin can also be damaged. Just soccer socks then do not provide enough protection.

By wearing ankle protection, there is an extra layer of protection for the skin, so to speak. For example, in the form of a piece of fabric containing felt or foam or a pad of hard plastic or rubber. This ensures that the chance of damage to the skin is a lot less. 

Why do children in particular wear ankle protection?

There are several reasons why children in particular wear ankle protection. Which ones are you will read below:

Children are more likely to sprain their ankle
Because the joints and muscles of children are not yet fully developed, they are more likely to sprain their ankle. A sprint or landing from a jump can put a lot of pressure on the ankle, causing it to sprain. 

Motor skills also play an important role. In children, these are not yet as developed as in adults. As a result, a child may not place his foot properly while running. As a result, a child may sprain his or her ankle. 

Wearing ankle protection provides more support and strength around the ankles. This will make the ankle less likely to sprain.  

The motor skills of the opponent must also be taken into account. Because motor skills are not yet working optimally, the opponent may make a slide and accidentally hit the ankle instead of the ball. 

The piece of felt or foam or the pad made of hard plastic or rubber protects the skin from any misplaced sliding by the opponent. 

Against what injuries does wearing ankle pads work?

Wearing ankle protection reduces the risk against the following injuries:

Sprained ankle
A sprained ankle is also called a twisted ankle or distortion. As the ankle folds inward or outward, the ankle ligament stretches or tears. This can cause tiny little tears in the ankle ligament or blood vessels. The result is swelling of the ankle, bruising and, of course, pain. 

By wearing ankle protection, you have more strength around the ankles. This makes the ankle less likely to flip in or out. 


Damage to skin
Ankle protection sits in front of the skin. When it is hit during a slide, the skin is less susceptible to sustaining damage. Consider, for example, a large abrasion. 

Damage to the tissue under the skin
Especially when a hard tackle is made and the studs hit the ankle, the tissue under the skin can be damaged. This can result in a flesh wound, for example. 

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Why do soccer players wear protection? (detailed explanation)

What types of ankle protection are available?

There are several ways how you can protect the ankles. Protection comes in three different varieties. 

Shin guards with ankle protection
In particular, you will see children wearing these ankle protectors. These are ankle guards that are attached to the shin guards. You put the ankle protection on like a sock. Under the sock is an elastic band that sits under your foot. This way, the ankle protection stays in place. 

You will not easily see professional soccer players wearing this protection. The reason for this is because the ankle protection can get in the way and somewhat hinder the proper execution of the game. 

The protection is a layer of felt or foam (mostly) wrapped in polyester fabric or fabric that can drain sweat well. 

These types of shin guards are offered by major brands such as Nike, Adidas and Puma. However, there are also smaller brands that make them and name-brand shin guards with ankle protection.

Learn more about shin guards in our blog Why do soccer players wear shin guards?

Loose ankle pads
This protection is similar to the variant with shin guard, however, there is no shin guard attached. Like the previously mentioned variant, you put it on as if you were putting on a sock*. It also has an elastic band at the bottom. 

There are two different varieties of loose ankle guards. One variant protects the ankle with only a felt or foam layer. This is wrapped in a polyester fabric or fabric that can drain sweat well. 

The other variant offers extra protection to the ankle as it has shock-absorbing pads on it. These are made of hard plastic or rubber. When a foul is made on you, the pads will absorb some of the impact.

These types of ankle pads are made by Nike, Adidas and Puma, among others. Smaller brands and name brands also make this protection. 

* You wear the protection under your soccer sock. 

You sometimes see soccer players wearing a (rather thick) layer of tape around their ankles. This is sports tape (which you can buy at a sportswear store or drugstore, among other places).

They wear this to protect the skin from slidings. If the opponent accidentally hits the ankle, this can damage the skin. The tissue underneath is also at risk of damage. The tape is like an extra layer of protection around the skin. 

In addition to providing some protection, some players also wear the tape just above the ankles. In this case, they do this to keep the shin guards in place. 

Soccer players wear tape not only around the ankles but also around the wrists and fingers. You can read more about why soccer players day tape in our blog Why do soccer players wear tape?

What is the best ankle protection for soccer players?

The best protection for the ankles are the G-Form Pro Ankle Protectors from the G-Form brand. 

The reason for this is that the protection is tight and comfortable around your ankles, it does not cause you to sweat unnecessarily and, of course, because they offer good protection. This is because of the shock-absorbing pads around the ankle. These ensure that the impact of a sliding is somewhat absorbed. The pads are made of hard plastic or rubber and also ensure that, for example, the opponent's studs cannot hit the skin. 


By now you know why soccer players wear ankle protection. Although it is mainly children who wear them, adults would be doing well to wear them either. However, because they can hinder the game somewhat, they are not easily worn. Now that you know what injuries you can sustain to the ankles, will you wear this protection as well?

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

January 28, 2023
Published: January 28, 2023