Why do soccer players wear protection (detailed explanation)?

The days when soccer players on the field wore only their jersey and soccer shoes are long gone. Nowadays, a soccer player wears, for example, shin guards, thermal clothing and tape. In this blog, we explain why they wear these. 

This is why soccer players wear protection:
Soccer players wear protection to prevent injury or reduce the severity of any injury. They may also wear it so they can get back on the field faster after an injury. In addition, wearing some protective equipment such as shin guards is mandatory. 

When you read on, we'll provide more information on why soccer players wear protection.

Why do soccer players wear protection?

In the intro you have already briefly read why soccer players wear protection. Since we want to tell you more about it, we will go into more detail below. 

Note: further on we will explain per protection gear against which injuries it helps. It is possible that we refer you to another blog of ours because we have gone into this in more detail. 

To reduce injuries

Wearing protection during the match reduces the chances of injury a lot. 

When a soccer player wears shin guards, for example, he is less likely to suffer shin injuries if he is hit by an opposing player. 

When a player wears sliding shorts, for example, his thigh muscles stay warm and he is less likely to strain a muscle. 

To be able to play a game earlier

Sometimes wearing protection can enable a player to return to playing a game sooner. This is the case, for example, when a player has broken his cheekbone or nose. 

Wearing a face mask allows a player to return to the field to play soccer earlier. This is because the mask protects the part of the face that is broken.

A player never enters the field with an injury before a sports doctor has given the green light. This must be done responsibly. The player in question should not risk any additional danger. 

To avoid even worse injuries

Again, we take as an example the protection mask. As you have read above, it protects a part of the face that has suffered a fracture, for example. 

When the player in question wears the mask and then accidentally gets an elbow in the face, the mask provides protection and ensures that it does not easily break again. 

Because it is mandatory

The reason they are worn is not only because protective equipment can reduce or prevent injuries. Wearing shin guards during a match is simply mandatory. A soccer player is not allowed to enter the field without shin guards. 

This is stipulated by the IFAB (International Football Association Board). They are listed under rule 4.2 the mandatory equipment. This is a list of items that a soccer player is required to wear during a match.

Protective gear and the injuries they reduce/prevent.

Against what injuries do shin guards help?

As the name of this protection suggests, shin guards protect the shinbone. Shin guards are specifically designed to protect the shin bone (the bone) from injury. This could include a significant bruise or even a fracture. 

Because soccer involves a lot of sliding, the shin is vulnerable to fracture. If an opponent's foot or leg collides with this, the shin can break. 

Wearing shin guards is also required by the IFAB. This is the only protective equipment a soccer player is required to wear. 

Learn more about shin guards in our blog Why do soccer players wear shin guards? And 14 questions answered about shin guards. Not sure which shin guards to buy? Then read our blog What shin guards should I buy (comprehensive buying guide)

Against what injuries do sliding pants help?

Sliding pants are worn, among other things, to keep thigh muscles warm. By wearing sliding pants, a player is less likely to risk tearing a muscle in the thigh. The hamstring in particular is sensitive to this when a player sprints. 

In addition, sliding pants protect against abrasions. When a soccer player without sliding pants makes a slide on a dry field, it can lead to ugly abrasions. 

Learn more about sliding pants in our blog Why do soccer players wear sliding pants?

Against what injuries does thermal clothing help?

Thermal clothing is worn by soccer players to keep the muscles warm and to keep the entire body warm. It is important for a soccer player to keep the muscles warm. A muscle that is cold can tear more easily. 

It depends on which thermal clothing is worn by a soccer player. If he wears thermal shorts, they reduce the chance of injury in the upper leg. If he wears a long-sleeved thermal shirt, the player is less likely to suffer injuries to his back, chest or shoulders, for example. 

Learn more about thermal clothing in our blog Why do soccer players wear thermal clothing?

Against what injuries does a mouth guard help?

Whereas in sports such as Hockey, Rugby, American Football and Boxing it is mandatory to wear mouth guards this is not the case in soccer. 

However, we see that especially in America soccer players choose to wear mouth guards. 

Mouth guards protect a soccer player's teeth. This prevents a tooth from chipping or loosening. 

However, it also protects the opposing player. This is because the teeth of a player wearing mouth guard cannot come into contact with the opposing player. As a result, the player cannot suffer injuries such as cuts, for example. 

More information on why soccer players wear mouth guards can be found here.

Against what injuries does a protection mask help?

A protection mask is actually worn only when a soccer player has suffered an injury. This could be a fracture in the cheekbone, nose or eye socket, for example. 

The mask then ensures that the vulnerable part of the face can recover properly. The soccer player in question does not risk suffering another injury. 

In addition to protecting the nose, cheekbones and eye socket, the mask sometimes also protects the forehead. This depends on the type of mask.

Learn more about the face mask in our blog Why do soccer players wear a protection masks?

Against what injuries does a goalie helmet help?

Like the protection mask, a goalkeeper's helmet is (often) worn only after a goalkeeper (or in some cases a player) has suffered an injury. This involves an injury to the skull. 

For example, this could be a skull base fracture. A player can sustain this if, for example, an opposing player accidentally kicks the goalkeeper's skull hard. This can happen especially to goalkeepers since they are on the ground a lot to intercept the ball. 

Curious to learn more about the goalkeeper helmet? Then read our blog Why does a goalkeeper wear a helmet? Wondering what types of helmets there are? Then read our blog What types of helmets are there for soccer players?

Against what injuries does tape help?

When we talk about tape we are talking about sports tape. This can be purchased at sport stores and drugstores, among other places. Soccer players wear this tape around the wrists, ankles and/or fingers. 

The tape around the wrists helps as extra support. If a soccer player falls and lands on his wrists, by wearing tape he is less likely to bruise. 

The tape around the ankles acts as support to the ankles. If a player jumps for a head duel, for example, and then lands, he is less likely to sprain his ankle. 

Tape around the fingers is commonly worn to splint a broken or bruised finger. Two fingers are taped together so that the bruised or broken finger cannot move too much. As a result, the finger recovers faster. 

Against what injuries does kinesio tape help?

Kinesio tape can be placed on different parts of the body. For example, it can be placed on the upper legs, calves, lower back, shoulder blades or the back of the neck. In addition to allowing a soccer player to move better, it can also work against injuries. In fact, it can provide pain relief. Therefore, kinesio tape may allow a soccer player to be on the field sooner. 

Against what injuries do ankle pads help?

Children in particular wear ankle guards during a soccer game. These are attached to the shin guards. Ankle guards protect the ankles from scrapes and cuts. Because children's motor skills are not yet fully developed, it is possible for a child to accidentally hit the ankle during a slide instead of the ball. The ankle protection reduces the impact on the ankle.  

Ankle protection also provides extra support. It makes the ankle less likely to sprain. With young children this can still happen because the joints and muscles are not yet strong enough. Motor skills also play an important role here. Sometimes children place their foot incorrectly, which can cause it to sprain. The last mentioned can also happen to adults.  

Against what injuries do goalkeeper gloves help?

Every goalkeeper wears goalkeeper gloves during the game. These not only provide more grip but can also prevent injuries. 

For example, the gloves provide more cushioning. When a hard ball is shot, the gloves prevent it from landing directly on the skin. This can prevent a lot of pain. In addition, fingers are less likely to snap over because the gloves absorb some of the force of the ball. 

Because the band of the gloves is tight around the wrist, the wrist is better protected from bruising. When the goalkeeper lands on the ground and catches himself with one or both hands, he has more strength because of the band of the glove.

Against what injuries do gloves help?

At first, you might not expect gloves to prevent injuries. However, during cold days, gloves ensure that a soccer player does not cool down too much. Especially the ends of the body (think of the hands, feet, nose and ears) are places where you lose a lot of warmth. 

To maintain optimal performance, it is important that a soccer player's temperature remains between 38.5 and 39 degrees. If a player cools down too much, muscles also become colder. When muscles are cold, there is a chance that they are more likely to be overworked or damaged. This is because the muscles are less flexible and elastic and the blood flow is worse. 

You can read more about this in our blog Why do soccer players wear gloves?

Can protective gear prevent injuries?

The best-case scenario, of course, is that when a player wears the proper protection the person will not be able to sustain any injuries at all. Although some injuries can be prevented by protective gear, some injuries can never be 100 percent prevented. 

The 100 percent prevention of injuries is not realistic. This is because countless different situations occur during a soccer match. 


A player can wear shin guards to protect the shins. If a slide is made and the opponent places the leg very high, the unprotected knee can be hit. The player can then suffer a knee injury. 

What are other ways for soccer players to prevent injuries?

In addition to wearing protection, there are many other ways to prevent the risk of injury. Learn more in our blog How to prevent injuries in soccer (9 methods)


By now you know why soccer players wear protective gear and what injuries they can reduce or prevent. After reading this blog, will you start wearing more protection during a soccer game? 

Curious to read more blogs about soccer safety? Then click here for an overview.

January 27, 2023
Published: January 27, 2023