Do Soccer Players Shave Their Legs, and Should You? | MLS-Next Player Advice

Expert section: Mate Kontra – I’ve played soccer at a very high level all my life. Throughout my time playing, I’ve been coached by ex-pro, D1, and Academy level coaches, currently playing at the MLS-Next level. Many times the topic of shaving my leg hair came up for various reasons. I would like to share my experience regarding the topic, as well as insight on whether you should do it or not. 

Soccer Photo

There is a very popular myth around soccer, that players shave their legs completely hairless. 

Though it is considered a myth, many top players in the world actually shave their legs completely. 

Just to name a few, there is Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar Jr., Eden Hazard, and the list goes on. 

If the best of the best do it then there has to be a benefit, right?

Soccer players shave their legs for a variety of reasons such as injury prevention, hygiene, comfort, and even aesthetics. It is generally beneficial for most soccer players, especially those who play often, as it makes recovery, injury prevention, and cosmetic applications more simple and less painful. 

In this article, we discuss all of the benefits and functions, as well as drawbacks and alternatives to shaving the legs to help you decide if it’s the right choice for you. 

Related article: What to Pack for a Soccer Tournament | Advice By MLS-Next Player

Soccer Pickup Tournament
‘Pickup Soccer Tournament’ (#1 Unsplash – Izuddini Helmi Adnan)

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Shaving Leg Hair for Soccer

Before we get into the article, knowing the process for removing hair from your legs is important because it could change your mind about whether it is really worth doing. 

Removing leg hair is very simple, and there are several ways to do it. 

The most common way is with an electric shaver since it’s the quickest, completely painless and it is most accessible for everyone. 

I would recommend using a shaver for most players because it gives you the ability to let it grow back over several weeks. 

Though a drawback is that in order to keep it completely hair-free, it should be done every week or so. 

Another way to go about it is with the use of a razor

I wouldn’t recommend using a razor for this because it honestly takes too long and it has the same effect as an electric shaver which is a lot easier to use. 

It is also possible to use wax, which gives you more time before the hair grows back, but it is also the most painful and time-consuming. 

But before making a final decision, I recommend that you at least check out the “alternatives” section of this article, which talks about different ways to achieve similar benefits to removing any leg hair without actually removing it. 

Now that you know the basics, let’s get into the reason you’re here, knowing the benefits, possible drawbacks, and everything else about removing leg hair for soccer. 

Electrical Shaver
‘Electric Shaver on Hard Surface’ (#2 Envato – Sebastian_Studio)

Benefit #1: Tape Usage

The primary reason that most players completely shave their leg hair is because of the tape that they use on their legs. 

Most types of tape that are used for soccer are very sticky and removing them can hurt a lot as they rip out all of the hair that gets stuck to them. 

Even while playing, as the muscles flex, the tape can move around on the skin and pulls the hair with it. 

Not to mention that as the tape moves around, more and more hair gets stuck to it so there is no option of adjusting the tape because it will just pull the hair on one side or the other. 

Shaving leg hair eliminates the pain that is caused because of the hair that gets stuck to the tape. 

Athletic Tape Stabilizing Knee
‘Athletic Tape Stabilizing Knee’ (#3 Envato – hannievanbaarle)

Taping Joints

During injuries, and even after injuries for a while tape is used for extra joint stability. 

This means applying and removing tape from your knees or ankles pretty much every day for several weeks, depending on how often you have workouts, training, or matches. 

Removing tape so many times can cause a lot of pulling on leg hairs which can eventually rip from their roots. 

When leg hairs rip out this way, they can cause wounds and bleed on your leg which can lead to an infection in the worst case. 

For this application, I would highly recommend shaving the hair around the joint or affected area, with an electric shaver. 

As we discussed previously, an electric shaver will allow you to quickly remove hair and easily grow it back over a few weeks if you do not want to keep it shaved. 

Personally, tape usage is the main reason that I chose to remove my leg hair for soccer and I just ended up keeping it that way because of following additional benefits it provided. 

Cosmetic taping

It is also popular among soccer players to use athletic tape as a cosmetic item on their kit during a game. 

Whether it is wrapping it around their socks, shin guards, or other places, it can be difficult to 

remove without any pain. 

Since cosmetics are mostly during matches and it’s unlikely that you will be playing almost every day, it is possible to still use tape without doing any harm to your skin. 

However, a lot of teams require the use of shinguards in training as well, which are commonly secured with the use of tape below the socks for extra stability. 

Daily use of tape in the same area poses the same harm to your skin as it does when used for injuries, which gives a good reason to remove any leg hair. 

Shaving leg hair for this purpose will also prevent ripping it out while removing the tape, which helps avoid infections and other wounds that can be caused by hair ripping out. 

Benefit #2: Injuries

Another benefit of removing leg hair for soccer can be related to injuries on the pitch. 

Cuts and cruises are very common injuries in soccer that can happen in almost every match. 

It is a lot easier to treat these injuries when there is no hair in the way. 

For example, opponents will often make tough challenges for the ball that can result in a cut, which is a lot easier to clean when there is no hair in the way. 

Knocks and bruises are also similar because before applying any cream or ice it is a good idea to clean the bruised area. 

Cleaning the area becomes an easier job when there are no dirty hairs around the bruise because that allows you to clean it without a lot of scrubbing, eliminating the pain.  

Coach treating injured player
‘Coach Treating Injured Soccer Player’ (#4 Unsplash – Yogendra Singh)


Having a lot of leg hair during a massage is not the most painful on this list, but it is definitely uncomfortable. 

Massages can be anything from using a foam roller to a massage gun to eliminate muscle knots. 

When using either one of these methods to massage your muscles, hair can get in the way and be pulled which can hurt. 

Soccer players massage their muscles very often when they’re sore, as well as before and after they play to reduce the risk of muscle injuries. 

For this reason, it can be a good idea to remove leg hair because it makes their daily routine a lot less painful. 

I honestly didn’t think it would make much of a difference before I removed my leg hair, but it was night and day. 

I only felt the pressure on my muscles from my foam roller and not my hair being pulled as I was rolling back and forth, making the experience a lot more pleasing. 

Benefit #3: Comfort

Comfort is easily the most enjoyable benefit of this list. 

Especially during hot summer days when the sun is burning hot, having no leg hair makes it easier for the legs to cool down. 

It had a massive impact in reducing the sweat and heat buildup on the skin, helping me cool down more easily. 

Additionally, having no hair made the socks feel softer and increased overall comfort in my gear.

Though it may be more of a hygiene-related benefit, I found it easier to clean my legs on the 

pitch without having leg hair. 

Since the sweat and dirt that built up in my socks during a game weren’t tangled in hair, I could just use water to wash it all down. 

Being cleaner and having fewer bacteria on my skin also helps avoid skin infections in case cuts or injuries happen during a match. 

Soccer Player Performing Tricks at Soccer Stadium
‘Soccer Player Performing Tricks at Soccer Stadium’ (#5 Envato – Engy91)


The most significant drawback that I found while having no hair on my legs is that I am more prone to sunburns. 

Leg hair provides shade for the skin which protects it from the sun’s UV rays, but without any hair, there is no protection over my skin. 

Having multiple layers of sunscreen is necessary over the summer because of how easy it is to get sunburned without the extra layer of protection.

Another drawback that I noticed is that some clothing such as jeans feel rougher than they would otherwise. 

It isn’t bad enough to cause any chafing on the skin, however, it takes a few times of wearing it to get used to it. 

Don't Skip The Sunscreen
‘Don’t Skip The Sunscreen’ (#6 Pexels – Tara Winstead)

Alternatives to Shaving

Shaving leg hair can be uncomfortable and maybe it’s not your cup of tea. 

And in that case, some alternatives have almost the same benefits as completely shaving the leg hair. 

The most notable alternatives are pre-wrap, and the other is removable sleeves that you can take on and off. 

Athlete Using Pre-Wrap On The Wrist
‘Athlete Using Pre-Wrap On The Wrist’ (#7 Envato – YuriArcursPeopleImages)


Pre-wrap is probably the best alternative that you can choose, as it can be used for most applications that tape is used for. 

As an example, pre-wrap can be applied under the tape that is used to stabilize joints. 

That way, the tape doesn’t stick to the skin but rather to the soft foam that is around the joint. 

This requires more material to wrap the joint and it also takes twice as long, but during the removal process, there is no need to worry about pain or ripping hair. 

Pre-wrap is also relatively cheap and isn’t limited to one body part, as is the case with the next alternative.

Removable Sleeves 

Removable sleeves are the next best option after pre-wrap and are widely available to buy. 

There are several types of sleeves with different applications for functional use and cosmetic use. 

Sleeves can replace pre-wrap and tape for stabilizing the joints, and they feel very similar.

Additionally, some sleeves can keep your shinguards in place under your socks.

Though, I don’t recommend using shin guard sleeves because they are an extra layer that traps heat below your socks which can be uncomfortable.


The first benefit that shaving leg hair provides, is easier tape usage because it will eliminate pain, and hair ripping.

It allows regular use of tape on the skin for applications such as stabilizing joints, securing shin guards, and even cosmetic use. 

Injuries will be easier to clean, treat, and take care of when there is no hair around them and it also eliminates most of the pain. 

This includes using foam rollers and massage guns to eliminate muscle knots and reduce soreness, as well as cleaning cuts or bruises. 

Having no leg hair also provides better comfort during a match as it reduces the overall sweat and heat buildup under the socks, and it is also easier to clean dirt from below the socks. 

There are some notable drawbacks to removing leg hair, which include being prone to sunburns and having less comfort with rougher clothing products such as jeans. 

If removing leg hair is not an option, there are alternatives available with similar benefits. 

The cheapest and most widely available is pre-wrap, which should be wrapped below the tape to prevent it from sticking to the hair.

There are cloth sleeves available to stabilize joints, secure the shin guard in place, and other cosmetic uses as well. 

Image Attribution & Licensing

Featured Image: ‘Soccer Player Ready to Practice’ by Ruben Leija (Licensed via Unsplash)

#1: ‘Pickup Soccer Tournament’ by Izuddini Helmi Adnan (Licensed via Unsplash)

#2: ‘Electric Shaver on Hard Surface’ by Sebastian_Studio (Licensed via EnvatoElements)

#3: ‘Athletic Tape Stabilizing Knee’ by hannievanbaarle (Licensed via EnvatoElements)

#4: ‘Coach Treating Injured Soccer Player’ by Yogendra Singh (Licensed via Unsplash)

#5: ‘Soccer Player Performing Tricks at Soccer Stadium’ by Engy91 (Licensed via EnvatoElements)

#6: ‘Don’t Skip The Sunscreen’ by Tara Winstead (Licensed via Pexels)

#7: ‘Athlete Using Pre-Wrap On The Wrist’ by YuriArcursPeopleImages (Licensed via EnvatoElements)