How Should Volleyball Knee Pads Fit?

Volleyball can be pretty brutal on your body if you’re not equipped with the right gear. Playing on an indoor court, if you don’t wear a knee pad, you’ll have court burns and bruises all over your knees by the time you’re done playing.

Now, you might be thinking – I can just buy any old pair of knee pads off the shelf and call it a day! It’ll keep me safe, Right? Nope.

Simply buying a knee pad without worrying about its size or anything is really not a bright idea. I’ll be blunt; knee pads can feel pretty uncomfortable if you’re not used to it.

And if you aren’t using the right size on top of that, you’ll have to keep repositioning it as it slides down your leg. Not fun!

how should volleyball knee pads fit

So, how should volleyball knee pads fit? Here’s what you need to know!

What Size Knee Pads Do I Need?

The most important thing when picking volleyball knee pads is getting the sizing right. And for that, you need to take the perfect measurement.

Take a measuring tape and wrap it around the thickest part of your leg (a couple of inches above your kneecap). Note down the size in both inches and cm and match it with different manufacturers’ size charts for their knee pads.

Choosing the right size knee pads: guide to ensure optimal comfort and protection

This will help you choose pads that’ll fit nicely and snugly.

The pads should feel pretty tight but still comfortable when you first slip them on and do a squat test. They absolutely cannot be sliding up or down your legs during play – that leads to nasty falls. The pads need to feel like a second skin out there!

Don’t be surprised if you have to try on quite a few sets before finding “the one.” Sizes and fits fluctuate a lot between volleyball brands.

If you want to land that perfect volleyball knee pad, you need to make sure you’re checking everything, including its size! The goal is to find that sweet spot of tight and supportive without the movement restriction.

Recommendations for knee pads and what size to get?
byu/restubs involleyball

Are Volleyball Knee Pads Supposed to be Tight?


When it comes to volleyball knee pads, “tight” isn’t quite the right word. You want knee pads to feel snug and secure – but not restrictive or uncomfortable.

In my “How to Wear Volleyball Knee Pads” article, I talked about it a bit.

The pads should fit closely around your leg with little room to slide or shift during play. A quality set hugs the knee without cutting off circulation or limiting mobility.

That being said, some compression can be a good thing. A tight-ish fit helps the pads move naturally with your body, acting like a second layer of protective skin.

If you have to choose between pads that are slightly big and loose versus ones that are a bit on the tighter side, go with the tighter one.

Loose pads sag, bunch up, and offer uneven cushioning. They also tend to slip down as you dive and jump!

On the other hand, excessively tight knee pads dig into the skin painfully. They throw off balance and alignment around the knees over time. And good luck bending all the way in constricting pads!

The ideal fit might take some dialing in. As you break pads in, focus on flexible compression without pinching or impairment. Snug and supportive – that’s the volleyball knee pad sweet spot that you’re aiming for!

Can You Play Volleyball Without Knee Pads?

For beach volleyball, sure – the soft sand offers enough cushion that players often opt to risk bare knees. But on hard indoor courts? Not a chance!

Attempting to play without knee pads is nothing but asking for trouble. I strongly advise against it!

Diving for saves and constant quick stops and starts on an unforgiving indoor court take a major toll on joints and limbs over time. All that impact transfers straight to your vulnerable knees if you don’t have any protective padding.

Playing volleyball sans knee pads: A visual exploration of the question

At casual rec-league levels, you might get lucky and walk away from a pad-less game with just a few minor bruises. But there’s always that risk of shattering your kneecap with one bad spill.

It’s simply not worth taking the risk. Sprained ligaments or tendons can also put you out of commission for months.

For competitive indoor volleyball, using quality knee pads is non-negotiable – there’s no question! The speed and aggression bump up significantly at higher levels. Playing without knee pads against those powerful spikes almost guarantees you’ll get injured without protection!

Of course, as I said in my “Ultimate Guide to Volleyball Knee Pads,” it’s a personal choice. But most pros wear it because it keeps you safe. So, there’s no reason why you should decide to step into court without wearing them yourself.

While pricey pads may seem inconvenient for a “just for fun” league, damaged knees cost far more in the long term. If you don’t have the budget for it, try checking second-hand sporting goods stores for gently used deals. Your joints will thank you later.

What to Do If Your Knee Pads are Too Small

If your knee pads feel too tight to the point that you feel your mobility take a hit, replacing the pair is the best thing to do. But before you do that, check if there are any adjustment options in them.

Addressing small knee pad issues: guide on solutions for optimal comfort and protection.

Some knee pads have adjustable wrist straps that let you get a custom fit. If you’re lucky, you should be able to loosen the strap to make it a bit more comfy for your knees.

However, if it’s still too tight, and you feel restriction in your movement, replace the knee pad right away. Using a knee pad that’s too tight for you can do more harm than good in the long run.

Let’s Recap

Using a pair of knee pads that are fitted properly is crucial both for your comfort and your safety on the court. So, take the time to measure your legs accurately, and don’t be afraid to try out different sizes and brands until you find the perfect one.

Focus on flexibility and stability so your pads move fluidly with your body. And don’t forget to periodically check the fit as your leg muscles develop more over time.

With the right protective gear, you can push your volleyball skills to the next level without the risk of career-ending injuries. Good luck!

ABOUT Harvey Meale

As a former international level volleyball player, I now spend my days working out and writing for Volleyball Vault. I look for ways to bring my wealth of experience and knowledge to create unique and insightful perspectives in my content.