Volleyball players are often torn on whether or not to wear knee pads. When I was younger, there were phases where it was “cool” or “uncool” to wear them. Do you get the “turtle shells?” How about the singular, smooth pads? The short kind or the long kind?
Now that I’m older, and my knees are blacker, I realize that there really should be no debate on whether or not you wear knee pads, first and foremost. They really do protect your knees, and absorb much of the shock that your body receives when you dive after a ball.
I hear a lot of people say, “as long as I’m moving my feet, I shouldn’t need knee pads!” Really, bro? The entire USA Women’s Volleyball Team wears knee pads. You gonna tell me they aren’t moving their feet enough? Of course they are! They wear them because they’re smart, and care about protecting their bodies! It’s not lame to want to be able to use your knees for the rest of your life.
On my college team, wearing knee pads was implicitly required. (We received them with our massive bag of goodies for the year.) And, I assure you, the majority of the other players on the Division I teams were wearing them too. In hindsight, I wish that I hadn’t neglected to wear them for the couple of years where I was more concerned about my thighs looking fatter (they didn’t by the way. It was all in my head!).
Now, on to personal knee pad style.
I honestly believe that you should consider the position you’re playing when you select your knee pads, though, at the end of the day, you will probably arrive at the same decision regardless the position you’re playing. For me, I tend to roll my the excess fabric on the knee pads down a fold so that they are not shifting when I’m playing. I’ve had too many issues in the past where I’ve had to dive multiple times in a rally, and the knee pad gifts shifted, and on the last dive, I get a massive bruise somewhere. Whether I’m playing libero or setting, I dive a lot. The packaging on the Mizuno LR6 Knee Pads (affiliate link) suggests that you “select VOLLEYBALL KNEEPADS suited for your body’s size and athletic objective,” so I guess I’m on to something. 😉
Some people like to wear knee pads that have a multitude of pads covering all sides of the knee. My main focus is on the sides, but I also use the top/middle quite a bit. I don’t like to have too much going on because I have to sprint all over the court, so too much padding slows me down, causing me to have to use the knee pads even more.
Comfort: If I have to play back-to-back games, I don’t feel like ripping them off in the middle of the game. They become like a second skin. The packaging states that, “wearing VOLLEYBALL KNEEPADS too tight can slow blood circulation in that location of the body,” so take note, people. You might like your spandex or shirt super tight, but that is a bad idea when it comes to knee pads.
Colors: They come in traditional white or black, but they also come in black with highlighter yellow trim on the top and bottom, lime green with pink trim, baby blue with yellow trim, and pink with baby blue trim. While I love bright colors, I’m not a fan for knee pads, but that’s just me. I like everything to coordinate, so I guess I’m kind of preppy when it comes to my volleyball attire?
Availability: These are pretty easy to find in stores and online in both the black and white designs (traditional knee pad colors). I was able to try them on during my awful Dick’s Sporting Goods experience, but ordered them online from the awesome Hock Sports in Florida. I got them in black in a size medium. They are also available from the ever-reliable Amazon (Mizuno LR6 Volleyball Kneepad, affiliate link) in a number of sizes and colors.
TL;DR: These knee pads are awesome, if you like a shorter design and don’t need massive pads. For the quality, they’re reasonably priced, and come in different colors. And please, for the sake of knees across the world, wear the darned knee pads!