I've noticed that Thomas Müller of Germany wears very small shin guards (at least most of the time). If I remember correctly he did the same thing during the last world cup or Euros. I played a bit of soccer when I was young and can't understand why a professional player would refuse to wear shin guards that cover all their shins. They are the only thing that keep you away from seriously hurting your shins and going through ridiculous pain. So what's the reason behind this? Why would you leave a considerable amount of your shins unprotected and risk getting injured??
The most important reason: It's simply a question of style. Like Cristiano Ronaldo wears long socks, some others are wearing sweatbands, ...
Besides, it's not very comfortable to wear shin guards. One sweats heavily underneath them. In personal, because of this reason, I'm wearing my shin guards only during the game. Never during training, warm-up or even a training match.
In addition, most injuries around the shin guards take place lower (ankle) or above them (knee).
I play with the smallest possible shin pads. i don't like any padding around my ankle. as a striker i need to have a clean hit of the ball. I find with ankle protection that doesn't always happen. Being a striker means most of my injuries from fouls are down the back of my calve where even large shin pads won't protect me. Its nothing to do with bad habits, more so to do with the position you play. It does also help if you know how to avoid a nasty tackle.
Shinguards came about because soccer used to be played literally with boots, big huge things, and the preferred method of kicking the ball was with the toe. If you missed, you kicked the shins. That changed in about 1950 with the introduction of modern shoes like they use today.
Today at anything above fourteen years old it is rare to see a direct hit to the shin. As an adult I've personally taken a kick to many a bare shin and not been any worse off. Shinguards are sort of useless. It stings but its almost impossible to break a shin. I am much more worried about my ankles and I wear ankle protectors. Today we still require shinguards as a nod to safety, but they are more ceremonial than not. This is stated in a soccer book I've read, I forgot which one (Maybe "The Soccer Book: The Sport, the Teams, the Tactics, the Cups").
The light, tiny 'slip in' shinguards are used because they are exactly that, light and small and unlikely to interfere with movement.
I've been coaching for 12 years now.
I have played for over 30 years years. Shin guards dramatically affect the way a striker makes contact with the ball, and it also reduces your feel for the location of the ball at your feet. I used to wear little kids shin guards, and I would even cut them to make them smaller. Your teammates may laugh, but you will score more goals and have better ball control! I have had tons of injuries, but never one related to inadequate shin guards.
Shin-guards provide superficial protection at best. If someone makes a really bad foul on you, they are not going to protect bones from being broken.
Professional footballplayers are used to getting hit on the shins over and over again. Pain is temporary, and something you get used to.
Many players train without shin-guards. Probably they feel that shin-guards constrict their movement
I for one feel they hamper movement and ball-control
Pro players wear such small shinguards because they have acquired a BAD HABIT. Also, because FIFA doesn't regulate the size of shinguards.
I think there should be stricter rules on the size of shinguards worn, even though some will say more protection can result in more rough dangerous play. The shin is a very sensitive area, and even without a fracture, an impact on an exposed area can get you out for the rest of the game.