How do you choose volleyball knee pads? The BEST Option

Volleyball knee pads are essential for volleyball players. You have to land a lot on your knees and knee pads make sure that you don’t land too hard on them as they dampen the impact. They use foam or gel in the front of the knee pads to do this. It is difficult to choose the best volleyball knee pads as you have to make a tradeoff between being comfortable and getting enough protection.

It is easy to design knee pads that are really comfortable if they don’t have to provide a lot of protection. It is also easy to create knee pads that offer a lot of protection but are impossible to play with. Striking the right balance is very difficult, especially because each player has his or her own preferences. You can try several designs and see what works for you. Once you have something that works for you, you can keep wearing this for the rest of your volleyball career.

©Goodlifestudio via Canva.com

Therefore it is important that you spend quite some time thinking about this as you will have to wear them for a long period of time. Having different designs of knee pads is a great idea as this allows you to switch between them if one design becomes uncomfortable.  This also makes it easier to wash and maintain them as they need quite a lot of time to dry. Let’s discuss what factors can impact your decision to pick a certain design of knee pads over another. 

Foam or gel: what are volleyball knee pads made out of 

Gel (or rubber) is better at absorbing an impact but it is less flexible and might therefore interfere with your movement when you want to run or jump. Gels are also more expensive as it is quite complex to manufacture these. They might also not be able to deal with cold that well and could break if you don’t take care of them during winter or a hot summer day. Foam on the other hand is more flexible and will be more comfortable but it is less effective at reducing an impact. Foams are cheaper and easier to maintain. You can even wash some of them, making them last longer.

 More recently manufacturers have started to incorporate both to get the best of both worlds. Some players have strong opinions about each of these materials but you will have to test both to see what works for you.

Example of a gel that is used in volleyball knee pads ©efetova via Canva.com

Long or short: that is the question

Some designs are quite long and this makes sure that the knee pads don’t move when you jump around or hit the floor. It is really annoying to wear knee pads to have them move just when you need them. Therefore a lot of players prefer to wear long knee pads as these are more stable. They are also better at absorbing sweat and you can use them to wipe your shoes off when they have become slippery. Shorter knee pads are more comfortable as they cover a smaller part of your knee. They often use elastics to make sure that they stay in place and this could reduce the comfort once again. I prefer long knee pads but you can try short ones to see if you like them better. Short ones are often cheap and could be a great idea for beginners or people that don’t plan to play a lot.

Size and materials of the fabric

Knee pads come in different sizes. Often these are small, medium, and large. Each brand has its own system to determine the size. They also are different for men and women in some instances but unisex in general. You might try several sizes to make sure that they fit well. They shouldn’t be too snug but also not too loose. You have to see what works for you. After washing them, the fabric might shrink somewhat and they might become tighter. 

Fabrics have a big impact on the look and feel of knee pads ©albertobrian via Canva.com

Some brands use cotton, which is natural and better at attracting sweat. Other brands use polyester, which is a synthetic material that might smell faster but is cheaper. I personally prefer cotton because it feels softer and lasts longer but this is a personal preference. The used materials can have a big impact on how the knee pads feel. They might look similar but different materials can have a big impact on the comfort while playing. 

Price

Depending, on the size knee pads are often less than 40 USD. This makes them quite affordable. Therefore it is a great idea to buy multiple as you need to dry and wash them from time to time and having a spare pair at hand makes this whole process a lot easier. More expensive units use better materials and more foam or gel but in general, you won’t be paying too much more than 40 USD for volleyball knee pads. You might need 4 or 5 pairs per season if you attend every training and participate in every match so this is a yearly expense of about 200 USD. 

Elastics or velcro

You have two ways of closing the knee pads. Some use velcro and others use elastics. Elastics will always stay in place but could be annoying after a while. Velcro makes it easier to adjust and can be more fun to play with. They are more expensive but should last longer. Therefore I often pick knee pads with velcro as they are worth the additional cost since they offer a lot in return for this. This again depends on personal preference. Try to play with both versions and see what works for you.

Elastics make sure that your knee pads don’t drop while you move around. ©Dana_Zurki via Canva.com

Specifically designed for volleyball or not

Other sports also use knee pads. For example, if you go offroad mountain biking, knee pads can be useful to reduce a fall. These sometimes work quite fine for volleyball but they have different prints on them and others are just too bulky. Therefore I would opt to pick a design that is specifically created for volleyball players as they have small details that can improve durability and comfort. Volleyball knee pads are created to make sure that you still have a lot of agility while wearing them. Other knee pads just focus on protection and make it very difficult to move with them. Given that volleyball knee pads are quite cheap, I would just buy knee pads that have been designed with volleyball in mind. 

To conclude, we can state that you have to take a lot of things into account when it comes to buying knee pads for volleyball. From size, design, price, and materials to length. All of these things affect comfort and protection.  Make sure that you take the time to try several brands and designs as you will have to wear them a lot.