Knee pads aren’t essential gear – let’s just put it out there.
To be honest – you only need a volleyball and a net to play volleyball, but when you play it indoors, knee pads can be a life saver.
They prevent your skin from scraping and bruising, and I wish I had learned that sooner.
I only started wearing knee pads when I started playing college volleyball, and they were a true revelation for me.
Today, I’ll tell you a little bit about knee pads – why they’re useful, are there any downsides to wearing knee pads, how to choose them and take care of them!
Should You Wear Knee Pads At All (and Who Needs Knee Pads)?
I’ll just reiterate what I said in the “How to Wear Volleyball Knee Pads” article.
Wearing knee pads is a personal choice. Majority of professionals wear them because they just make life easier.
Knee pads protect your skin from burning and bruising (although the latter depends on the thickness of the padding).
Now, I know what you’re thinking – you’re not going to hurt your knees by dropping to the ground, so why waste money on knee pads?
You’re absolutely right – kneecaps are much stronger than most people think and you most likely won’t hurt yourself in any way if you don’t wear knee pads. In fact, you’re more likely to twist an ankle than hurt your knee playing volleyball.
However, you can avoid minor injuries that make life uncomfortable, such as bruising and burnt skin, by using knee pads.
Also, if you’re an older person, you’re more prone to injuries, and I would honestly recommend wearing knee pads with thick padding. In that case, the knee pads aren’t here just to protect you from skin burns, but also from fractures and severe bruising.
Players who do a lot of defensive work, such as liberos, need knee pads more than other players because they’re constantly dropping to the floor.
In conclusion – at least try them out. You’ll notice less bruising and skin burns, while the material won’t affect your movement or your game in any way.
When Shouldn’t You Wear Knee Pads?
The only situation that comes to mind is playing beach volleyball – you don’t need knee pads for beach volleyball. The sand is there for the exact purpose of softening the ground and breaking your fall.
Not only is it completely unnecessary to wear them for beach volleyball, but you’ll also have a hell of a time trying to clean them afterwards!
Are There Any Downsides to Wearing Volleyball Knee Pads?
The only possible downside to knee pads is that they’re a distraction if they’re too small or too large.
If you’re wearing large knee pads, they’ll constantly slide down your legs and you’ll constantly be pulling them up, instead of concentrating on the game.
On the other hand, wearing small knee pads is very uncomfortable.
Because of this, it’s important that you choose the right size!
How Are Volleyball Knee Pads Made?
There are basically just two important parts of volleyball knee pads – the padding and the materials wrapping it.
The purpose of the padding is to break your fall and minimize the force on your knees, thus protecting you from skin burns, bruising, and pain in general. The padding is usually made from some type of cushion-like material, such as shock-absorbent foam.
The wrapping material is usually cotton with elastic properties (so it wraps around your leg) or with Velcros that tighten the pads to your legs.
This greatly affects breathability, which is our next topic.
Volleyball Knee Pad Breathability
I’m a supporter of volleyball knee pads, but if there’s one thing I don’t like about them, it’s the fact that they have to stick tight to your legs to protect them, and that affects breathability.
Once you take those knee pads off after a long training session or a game, the part of your leg that was covered by the pads will be sweatier than the rest of your body combined.
Okay – that was an overstatement, I’ll admit it, but my point still stands – unbreathable knee pads are so uncomfortable to wear that I’d rather play with no knee pads on.
With that being said – avoid knee pads that use polyester. Polyester is unbreathable and you’ll feel like your leg is on fire. The best material is cotton, preferably in a mesh design.
Meshes let your skin breathe, and that’ll make the knee pad much more comfortable.
Best Volleyball Knee Pad Manufacturers
The five best volleyball knee pad manufacturers are Nike, Adidas, Mizuno, Mikasa, and Asics. Three of those are generally some of the best sports equipment manufacturers in the world, while Mikasa and Mizuno are top-level volleyball equipment manufacturers.
Speaking from personal experience, you won’t be disappointed with their knee pads.
However, if you just want to try out knee pads, you can buy cheap ones at any sports goods store – they’ll work for you in a pinch. If you decide you want to wear knee pads, you can later invest into more durable (and expensive) pads.
Volleyball Knee Pad Sizes
Most brands have their own sizing – some use traditional XS, S, M, L, XL sizing, while others use 1-2-3-4 sizing. Kids have their own special section, and unless a child is particularly tall for their age, they have to buy children’s knee pads.
There are no specific measurements relating to the sizes, as different manufacturers have different size parameters.
How to Choose Volleyball Knee Pads?
Try them out first! This is the best piece of advice I can give you. Knee pads shouldn’t be hanging off your legs, but they also shouldn’t cut off circulation to your legs – they should fit just right.
This is why you should try them on before you buy them – most stores will let you do that. Check out our article on this topic for more information about choosing and wearing volleyball knee pads.
I’d also prioritize breathability and size as the two main things to focus on when choosing volleyball knee pads.
A quick pro tip before we move on to the next section – don’t buy white pads! Sweat will accumulate and it will leave yellow stains that you won’t be able to wash, no matter how hard you try! This isn’t a problem with black pads.
How to Wash Volleyball Knee Pads?
Some knee pads can be washed in the washing machine. You’ll find that information on the label if that is the case.
However, some elastic knee pads can’t take such high temperatures as they’ll lose their elasticity (or possibly shrink), so you’ll have to wash them by hand. These pads usually have a note on the label, saying “Not for machine washing.”
Knee pads that use Velcro can usually be machine washed, but I’d take off the Velcros beforehand.
Once the pads are clean, you can just let them dry in the sun – I’d personally avoid machine drying just because it’s unnecessary.
Knee pads are a useful piece of equipment for indoor volleyball. They’ll make life a little less painful as they minimize burns and bruises. However, you shouldn’t wear them for beach volleyball, and you should always try them out before you buy them.
Knee pads need to fit well – they shouldn’t be loose, but they shouldn’t cut into your skin either. If possible, buy cotton pads from the best manufacturers, as they’re the most breathable pads.