Shin guards and socks are required for legal play in nearly all soccer leagues. There are two basic types of shin guards: those with ankle guards and those without. For each type of guard, you should know the best way to wear your socks for the benefit of legal play and your safety on the field.
Shin Guards with Ankle Guards
Shin guards with ankle guards have two parts. A hard plastic part covers the shin and a half-sock that slides over your ankle, positioning two protective plastic cups on either side of your ankle bone. Shin guards with ankle guards are typically worn by youth players who need extra protection. To wear socks with this type of shin guard, put the shin guard on first, connecting the shin guard's Velcro strap around your calf and straightening the ankle guard into position. After the shin guard is in place, pull your sock over the shin guard so that the entire unit is covered by your sock.
Shin Guards without Ankle Guards
Adult soccer players typically use shin guards that do not contain ankle guards. This type of shin guard generally has simple plastic inserts that slide beneath socks or into fabric sleeves, or secure around your calf with a Velcro strap. For this type of shin guard, put your socks and cleats on before positioning your shin guard. Once the guard is in position, pull the sock up over the top of the shin guard. Wrapping athletic tape around your leg just below and just above the shin guard will help keep it in place.
Choosing the Right Sock
The type of sock you choose may alter your ability to use it with certain shin guards. Socks that are too tight or small may not expand to cover your shin guards, coming up short or not offering enough elasticity. A player's sock must cover the entire shinguard at all times during the game, according to Federation Internationale de Football Association rules. To avoid problems with the right fit, take your shin guards with you and wear them when trying on new socks.
Customizing Your Fit
You may find that wearing a shin guard directly against your skin is irritating, especially if it is held in place by athletic tape on the outside of your sock. To solve this problem, take a pair of soccer socks and cut off the foot portion, leaving the portion that covers your calf. You can slide this sock "tube" over your leg and place your shinguard on top of it to help prevent skin irritation. This is also a good way to recycle old soccer socks that may have holes in the heel or toe.