Do Pro Goalkeepers Wear Padded Shorts?

Padded shorts were very much a staple of 90s football. I can still picture Gianluigi Buffon in his Parma jersey at the time with black padded shorts. Even when he got to Juventus in the early 2000s they were still wearing padded jerseys and shorts. These days we could argue that padded shorts as part of official team kits have almost disappeared. On a personal level, when I was a part of the pro game I got a bit of a mixed bag. In the sense that I do remember my Alianza kit coming with a pair of padded shorts. We’re talking about the early 2010s at this point, and even then there just weren’t as many padded shorts coming standard with goalkeeper kits. At least not with the official team kit. 

What’s potentially worse these days is that it’s hard to find official team kits for goalkeepers. Even if you do find the kit you’re usually going to have to pay an extra fee for the shorts. In most of those cases the shorts don’t come with pads on them. Now, just because official team kits don’t come with padded shorts doesn’t mean that goalkeepers can’t wear them. In fact, the biggest question that most goalkeepers are probably going to want to answer is whether or not it makes sense to wear padded shorts. The short answer is that it totally makes sense to wear padded everything. Just as long as the pads don’t alter your movements or anything like that. That being said, goalkeeper gear has changed a bit over the years. That’s why we don’t see the padded shorts as much. 

Can You Benefit From Wearing Traditional Padded Shorts?

Technically yes, but I’ve always had this sense that if you wear the shorts really loose they’re not going to be doing much for you. It’s a lot like those old school goalkeeper jerseys that always looked like they were a size or two too big for the goalkeeper. What you have are protections that are going to move out of place when you go to dive if your jersey is too loose. The same thing tends to happen with padded shorts. Then again, the solution to the problem is also the same one that I always talk about when it comes to jerseys. Make sure that you’re wearing the shorts that are just the right size for you. 

This is especially important when it comes to kids. I know it can be hard as a parent to justify the purchase of clothing that your kid is not going to fit in after a 6-month period. That’s sadly the nature of the beast with kid goalkeepers. They are going to be going through a lot of gear and outfits. If you decide that you’re going to buy them padded shorts that they have to grow into in those first moments that they are using the shorts they are not really going to benefit from the padding. Just because like I said when you go to dive it’s likely that the pads are going to end up out of place or too out from your actual thighs to really soften the blow.     

Underwear With Protection vs Padded Shorts

Goalkeeper Padded Shorts - Do They Even Work?

This is one of those decisions that you’re going to have to make at one point. Just like we’ve seen with the traditional long goalkeeper pants versus leggings the padded shorts are also losing ground to padded underwear. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first reason is that the underwear is typically going to fit tighter around your waist. That’s going to lead to the padding staying right where it needs to stay. That’s the reason that I pointed to as to why a lot of the old school padded shorts have fallen out of fashion. In a sense the underwear and how tight they can  be makes them more effective at protecting your sides than the traditional shorts.   

Having said this, is there any part of the argument that I would see traditional padded shorts winning? Well, some people don’t love wearing such tight underwear. Some of these sliders can be itchy. Particularly if you’re going to be playing in some hot humid climate. I’ve had teammates that swear by the sliders and won’t wear anything, but that stretchy material in their underwear when they get out on the field. For other guys it’s just the opposite. Even if we talk about the underwear with protection being able to provide better protection when you hit the ground some people will still argue that the padded shorts are more comfortable to wear. If that’s your argument I certainly think it’s a valid one.    

Padded Shorts Benefits Over Long Pants

The main benefit that I still see with padded shorts over the long pants is mobility. Anyone who plays with long pants on wet grass is going to be able to relate to this. What happens is that the weight of the pants gets heavier and heavier as you move through the training session or the game. I’ve had situations where it’s come to the point that my pants are literally falling off because of how wet they are and the added weight that comes with that. I don’t necessarily hate this situation. In some ways I always thought it was a good thing to add some difficulty to your training session. At the end of it you can’t lift your legs or your pants for that matter. 

In any case, like I said, if there’s a benefit to padded shorts, mobility is one of them for sure. Especially if we’re talking about game scenarios. It’s cool to have some extra challenges during training. When it comes to games you want to be wearing the outfit that’s going to allow you to perform at your best. I know that wet pants idea can seem like a long shot to a lot of people. In the sense that it’s not going to make much of a difference. At the end of the day though, I’ve certainly been in situations where I’ve felt my outfit weighing down on me and that limited my ability to get to the ball. I always say that when you want to add protection to your outfit you need to take into account how much mobility the extra gear can take from you.     

Where You Play The Most Can Heavily Influence Your Outfit

people playing soccer on grass field during day
Photo by Yogendra Singh on

This is something that I always come back to in a lot of these articles. I wouldn’t be wearing padded shorts on turf or dirt fields. Especially on turf actually, I know that may sound weird. The problem with loose padded shorts on turf is that because they are loose you can find yourself diving to a ball and having the padded land in the wrong spot, which will lead to you sliding across hot turf with it directly hitting your underwear or even your bare skin. Needless to say I don’t think that’s a lot of fun. Most pro goalkeepers I see on TV and the ones I’ve been around personally would agree. Now, having said this, here’s another story that I talk quite a bit about on the site.

The ladies who wear short shorts to train on turf fields. At this point, I have no clue how you do it and I salute you for it. In my book anyone who does this is much more a trupper than myself. I’ve always looked for ways to limit the amount of bumps and bruises that I have to deal with. That may come down to age as well, I do get that sense. As you get older a lot of the bumps and bruises that were minor issues that you wouldn’t bat an eye for earlier in your career take a long time to heal as you get older. I’m talking about mid 20s even. 

I’m now in my 30s, but I remember trying to make a full pro comeback at 25, and it just wasn’t the same at all! That’s why you’ll read these recommendations from me about not being so unprotected on certain types of surfaces. Even if you feel like you can deal with it doesn’t make too much sense to take the extra punishment.   

KELME Soccer Goalie Pants, Padded Goalkeeper Pants

I know it says pants in the title, but check the link if you like. I promise it’ll lead you to a pair of padded shorts. The reason why I like these Kelme padded shorts because they’re very much on the traditional side. If you’re going to be wearing padded shorts at this point you’ve already added an old school item to your outfit. So just go all in and get yourself a jersey that can match that. Also, like I said before a lot of these padded shorts have gotten a lot tighter than what they used to be. The idea is that with these tighter shorts you’ll be able to avoid the scenario I described of sliding across the hot turf with your bare skin or your underwear. 

Another thing that is interesting is the price tag on these. They’re sitting at that 30-20 dollar range. It’s not that bad to where some of you might think it’s a good buy to just add to the goalkeeper worn drive. Just for one of those days when you want to roll up to your Sunday league in an old school goalkeeper outfit. At this point and going back to the original question about pro goalkeepers I do get the sense that padded shorts are a cool item to have and burst out once in a while. There are probably some traditionalists out there that still wear them regularly. For most of us they are like I said, a cool item to have for those days when you want to look like 90s Buffon between the sticks.    

Storelli BodyShield Unisex Goalkeeper Sliders 2

With complete honesty I’d say that this pair of padded sliders is going to fit the needs of more goalkeepers. Don’t get me wrong I have my pair of very old padded shorts that I still use from time to time. Really, what I always wear is a pair of these sliders. Unless I’m wearing full leggings. That I do feel is a bit too much, I wouldn’t wear these sliders than a pair of leggings. What can happen is that you’ll feel way too tight in that area. That can completely affect your reaction saves with your feet and even your natural kicking motion. The reason it makes sense to have a pair of these sliders is so that you can wear your regular shorts and just these underneath.  

For example if you want to wear your full team uniform that comes with a regular pair of no padded shorts you can wear these sliders and get the extra protection that you’re probably going to welcome. Just make sure that you get these in the size that fits you perfectly. In fact, I’d rather have them in a smaller size so that they fit tight rather than one over where I feel that they’re going to be a little looser. When they feel really loose it almost feels like you’re wearing two pairs of shorts and that doesn’t feel comfortable at all. Also, take into account that over time they’ll naturally loosen up as well. So maybe looking for a size too small could be an idea here with these.