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Soccer shin guards

Soccer shin guards are designed to reduce the severity of impacts and protect the wearer’s shin from abrasions and bruises.

It is important to remember that, as with all items of personal protective equipment (PPE), shin guards provide a good level of protection, but do not prevent all types of injury, for example some fractures and breaks.

European standard

The current harmonised European standard for testing soccer shin guards is EN 13061:2009. This standard assesses the shin guards for a range of properties including impact resistance, comfort and fit.

In Europe, shin guards that claim to offer protection to the end user are considered to be ‘intermediate category’ Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) according to European Council Directive 89/686. As such, shin guards need to be tested and CE marked.

Part of the testing and certification process at SATRA also involves assessing the chemical safety of all of the materials present in the guards by testing them to procedures such as those referenced from the general requirements for protective clothing standard EN ISO 13688.

Physical testing

The main tests in EN 13061:2009 are impact tests, which assess the energy absorbing and penetration resistance properties of the shin guards. To assess the impact properties of the guards, they are subjected to two tests – a blunt impact test and a stud impact test.

The blunt impact test assesses the impact absorbing properties of both the central and lateral areas of the guard – that is, any areas of the protective shell outside of the central zone of the shin guard. A striker of mass 1kg is dropped onto the outer shell of the guard and the amount of force transmitted through the guard as a result of this impact is recorded.

Two stud impact tests are used to assess the penetration resistance properties and the rigidity of the shin guards against football (soccer) boot studs. One test produces a vertical impact (parallel to the length of the guard) and the other produces a horizontal direction impact (at 90º to the length of the guard). The shin guards under test are impacted by a carriage of 1kg mass which incorporates a metal stud striker. Guards are assessed visually to determine if penetration through the inner surface has occurred. In the case of the vertical stud test, the distance that the stud has travelled over the surface of the outer shell is also recorded.

Aside from impact properties, the standard also assesses the shin guards for size, to see if they fit the wearer they are intended for. First a sizing assessment is carried out using templates to record the amount of protective coverage provided and see if it is adequate for the height of the prospective wearer. An ergonomics assessment is also carried out to ensure that there is no restriction of movement or discomfort during use. This is done using a human assessor of the same size as the guard’s intended wearer.

Other requirements of the standard are a restraint assessment to ensure that protectors remain in place during use, and an evaluation for any rough, hard or sharp edges that may cause discomfort or injury to the wearer or others during normal use.

Standard EN 13061:2009 also includes requirements for the marking and user information. The marking ensures that all relevant information relating to the guards is shown on the end product, and the user information helps to ensure that products are correctly used.

Further information on SATRA's PPE certification and testing services is available at www.satra.com/ppe

How can we help?

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SATRA has a comprehensive set of test equipment and facilities to carry out all aspects of soccer shin guard testing in accordance with EN 13061:2009. We can also assess products for innocuousness and CE Mark them against the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Directive. Please email ppe@satra.com for further information.