Whether you’re brand new to volleyball or have been playing professionally for years, having a few decent pairs of knee pads is considered fairly essential kit.
There’s a ridiculously large range of volleyball knee pads on the market, some of which are excellent, and others that are really quite awful…
Click here to learn more about our volleyball knee pad testing and review process.
With over 20 years of volleyball experience between us, here at Volleyball Vault we’ve personally tested countless pairs of knee pads over the years and have narrowed it down to just 5 pairs worth considering.
The Nike Essentials are the most popular volleyball knee pads in today’s game. Their super low profile fit offers adequate protection while you barely notice you’re wearing them!
Best Volleyball Knee Pads – Most Popular
Truth be told, you don’t need really thick, bulky knee pads to get adequate protection on your knees…
The purpose of volleyball knee pads is really to prevent friction burns more so than bruises.
It turns out you can achieve this goal using a relatively thin piece of material like we see in the Nike Essentials.
Most volleyballers prefer wearing knee pads that are small and lightweight like the Essentials, as they’re easier to move around in and look better.
With younger players, it’s often more about ‘the look’ than it is functionality, and many volleyballers would much rather look the part than be caught wearing the ‘wrong’ knee pads, even if they work better!
As with virtually all volleyball knee pads, durability isn’t amazing, so if you’re diving around a ton, don’t expect these to last more than a couple of seasons.
This is a great option for anyone who likes the trendy minimal look and feel. Parents, if you’re unsure, choose these knee pads!
Low profile fit is all the rage right now.
Super comfortable: you barely notice you’re wearing them!
The padding doesn’t offer maximum protection, but gets the job done.
Durability could be better.
The LR6 knee pads are right up there with the Nike Essentials as the most popular knee pads in the volleyball world. Their minimalistic feel combined with just enough padding make these ideal for all volleyballers, whether you’re a complete beginner or seasoned pro!
Best Overall Volleyball Knee Pads
The Mizuno LR6 knee pads are extremely similar to the knee pads I wore for the majority of my career.
They’re characterized by being extremely minimalistic while still offering just enough padding to get the job done.
Volleyballers hate unnecessarily bulky knee pads, so it’s no wonder the most popular choices nowadays are the thinnest, smallest, and lowest profile knee pads we can get our hands on!
The LR6s are have slightly thicker padding than the extremely popular Nike Essentials knee pads, but still maintain that really low key feel.
These knee pads are around the middle of the pack in terms of price but are widely considered as one of the two top options for both comfort and protection.
Tip: When unsure about sizing, order the larger size as these tend to run quite small.
These are an ideal choice for volleyballers who want that minimal, low profile look and feel, but still want a good amount of padding.
Minimal, lightweight, and low profile design makes these knee pads really comfortable to play in.
Thicker padding on both the front and sides offers more protection than the Nike Essentials knee pads.
Durability could be better.
Best Volleyball Knee Pads – Runner Up
Although the overwhelming majority of volleyballers these days prefer the shorter knee pads (see above), for those who prefer the slightly longer look, the Adidas Elite knee pads are a great option.
There’s very little difference between these knee pads and the ones discussed above, aside from length and how they feel – which largely comes down to personal preference more than anything.
These knee pads are on average a little more expensive than the Nikes and Mizunos, but prices vary quite a bit depending on sizing and which color you get.
As far as durability goes, you can expect more of the same from these knee pads…
Some players will get through multiple seasons with the knee pads perfectly in tact, and others will burn holes through them within the first few weeks of using them!
Great option for anyone who prefers slightly longer and bulkier knee pads as opposed to the super low profile look of the Nike Essentials and Mizuno LR6s.
Excellent length and padding for those who thought the LR6s/Essentials were too small.
One of the better options for larger and longer legs.
Slightly less popular style compared to the Nikes.
Ever so slightly more expensive than the above knee pads.
Most Durable Volleyball Knee Pads
I’ve played with these knee pads for 10+ years and continued going back to them because they worked extremely well.
From personal experience, as well as having read the reviews of others, these knee pads seem to last a lot longer than each of the aforementioned products.
I would get several years out of each pair of these with 20+ hours of usage each week. I never really experienced a pair of these knee pads falling apart or developing holes.
Maybe that’s just because I’m a middle blocker, but I still did my fair share of digging, diving, and sliding around in practice!
Although slightly longer than the LR6s/Essentials, they still have the thin/hard shell-like padding which allows them to slide nicely across the floor.
They’re best described as a mix between the Adidas Elites and the Mizuno LR6s.
These knee pads are also marketed as being antimicrobial, antistaph, and anti-stink… Although, after using them for years, I can confirm they still stink just as much as any old knee pads!
Great option for anyone who tends to burn through knee pads quickly, as these tend to last longer than the other options.
These knee pads appear to last longer than the alternatives.
Super comfortable to wear.
Allegedly antimicrobial and anti-stink, although I can’t say I’ve done a side-by-side odor comparison!
Only come in two sizes: senior and junior.
Yet another option worth looking at are the knee pads from Asics which, although advertised as low profile, are quite a bit more bulky than the options we’ve already discussed.
Too Much Padding? Or Just Enough?
Asics also make a fairly popular volleyball knee pad which is marketed as being ‘low profile’, despite being quite a bit bulkier than the LR6s/Essentials.
Although they’re short in length, the padding protrudes outwards quite a bit, which is decent from a protection standpoint, but causes some comfort issues.
The thicker bubble-like padding on these Asics knee pads tends to stick to the court more, which is great for preventing bruises, but stops them from sliding across the court as smoothly as you’d like…
Compare it to a MotoGP driver – when they fall off their bike, their knee pads are designed to allow them to slide across the road…
Thinner, harder padding like we see on the Mizuno LR6s/Nike Essentials/Adidas Elites does a better job in this department, the byproduct of which is that these knee pads also tend to stay in place better too.
The other downside of Asics Ace Lows is that they’re only available in two sizes: adult and junior youth, so not everyone is going to get a perfect fit.
This is a decent choice for anyone who prefers much thicker padding or, for whatever reason, didn’t like any of the knee pads discussed earlier.
Shorter length is definitely the preferred style these days.
These knee pads are on the cheaper side compared to the others.
Thicker, protruding padding is less effective at sliding across the court. It also causes the knee pads to slip down your legs.
Most volleyballers are going to need more than a single pair of knee pads, so it makes sense to give a couple styles a try to see what works best for you.
If neither of those felt great, give the Adidas Elites a go.
And if you’re one of those players who tends to burn through knee pads really quickly, give the Mikasa 832s a go as you will benefit from the extra durability.
Our Volleyball Knee Pads Testing & Review Process
Between myself and our head product tester Caity, we’ve amassed well over 20 years of volleyball experience. That’s 20+ years of experience wearing different volleyball knee pads!
Although we both tend to wear the Mikasa knee pads, we decided to purchase 7 of the top rated volleyball knee pads to personally test them out to get a better understanding of which knee pads work the best.
We’re evaluating each knee pad over the course of 30+ contact hours each, based on the following criteria:
We’re currently still in the process of testing each of these knee pads and estimate we’ll have completed our testing and reviewing before the end of 2023.
At that point we’ll be able to update this article with far more detailed information about each of these volleyball knee pads to help you make an even better purchase decision.
Feel free to read more about our product testing standards and review process.
What We Look For In Volleyball Knee Pads
For many younger volleyball players, having the right knee pads is less about effectiveness or durability, and more about fitting in.
If your teammates are all wearing the Nike Essentials knee pads, you’re probably going to want to wear them too because as social creatures, conforming to the group is hard wired in our DNA.
Having played the game for so long, we understand on a deep level what volleyballers are really motivated by when it comes to things like this.
What Knee Pads Are My Teammates Wearing?
For many younger players, this is one of the most important factors to consider.
If you’re a parent shopping for knee pads for your child, ask them which knee pads the other kids on their team like to wear and start there.
Of course not all volleyballers care about the social conformity side of things, but it’s definitely something to think about.
Minimalist, Low Profile Knee Pads Are Trending
In today’s game, all the rage is ultra low profile knee pads. The thinner, shorter, and smaller, the better.
One of the biggest complaints I see about knee pads is that they’re too big or too long, which actually reduces comfort as it causes them to shift around on your legs every time you flex your knees.
Low profile knee pads like the Nike Essentials or Mizuno LR6s tend to do a better job of staying in place, because they sit below the knee cap and are easier to walk around in.
Check out this article for more information on how to wear volleyball knee pads properly.
Durability Will Vary A Lot
As far as durability goes, almost all of the knee pads (aside from perhaps the Mikasas) on this list are roughly the same.
How long they’ll last is completely dependent on what type of player you are and how prone you are to hitting the ground.
The same pair of knee pads that had holes burnt into them after a month might last a different player 3-4 seasons.
How Much Are Volleyball Knee Pads?
Most volleyball knee pads cost between $20-$30 and price will vary depending on size and color.
Best Youth Volleyball Knee Pads?
The best volleyball knee pads for beginners and youth platers are going to be the same as the ones I’ve discussed in this article.
I would recommend the Nike Essentials as well as the Mizuno LR6s as opposed to the Adidas Elites, as they’re a bit smaller overall.
Functionally speaking, there’s no difference between youth volleyball knee pads and adult volleyball knee pads…
So long as you’ve got a pair that fits well, any of the aforementioned knee pads will do fine regardless of age or experience.
Best Men’s Volleyball Knee Pads?
Many men’s volleyball players choose not to wear knee pads, although knee pads are still more common than going without.
There’s no specific style of knee pads that’s better suited to men, so again it’s just down to personal preference.
I’ve notice men tend to gravitate towards the slightly longer length knee pads like the Adidas Elites as well as the Mikasa 832s, possibly just because male players seemingly haven’t bought into the low-profile trend quite as much as women have.
Whether you’re a man or woman, try out a couple different pairs in whichever styles you like the look of and decide for yourself where your preferences lie.
Volleyball Knee Pads FAQ
Here are answers to a few of the more commonly asked questions we get regarding volleyball knee pads…
Best volleyball knee pads for liberos?
Whether you’re a libero or middle blocker, the best knee pads for you are going to come down to personal preference more than anything.
As a libero you’re going to need at least 2 pairs of knee pads (depending on your training load), so I’d recommend trying a few different styles out initially and then figuring out which ones you like the most.
As a bit of general advice, since liberos tend to go through knee pads more quickly than other positions, I’d strongly recommend trying the Mikasa 832s as I’ve found their durability to be a level higher than the rest.
What volleyball knee pads do professionals wear?
When we’re talking about professional volleyball players, the knee pads they wear are going to be determined by team sponsorships more than anything else.
National volleyball teams will often have a team sponsor like Adidas, Mizuno, or Errea and the players’ knee pads will almost always match the current sponsor.
Many of the European club teams are sponsored by Errea, so it’s extremely common to see professionals wearing Errea knee pads.
We’ve not been able to test out the Errea knee pads yet as they’re a European company that doesn’t retail in the US, so they need to be shipped internationally.
But we will definitely get around to it eventually!
If team sponsorships aren’t a factor, which is still the case for a large number of professional teams throughout the world, you’ll see the pros wearing a huge range of knee pads including the ones discussed earlier in this article.
What are the best colored volleyball knee pads?
The overwhelming majority of knee pads come in either white or black and these colors are by far the most popular styles.
You can find a few different volleyball knee pads that come in other colors, but they’re usually going to be pretty low quality.
None of the top 5 knee pads discussed in this article come in colors other than white or black.