4 Best Volleyball Knee Pads For Liberos (2022)

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When it comes to putting your body on the line for the ball, there’s no one who does it like a libero. Whether it’s from diving, dropping, or rolling, odds are you’ve accumulated quite the collection of injuries over the years. That’s why knee pads are so important: they limit the damage to one of the most at-risk parts of your body – your knees.

So, what are the best knee pads for liberos? The best volleyball knee pads for liberos are the Mizuno LR6 for their VS-1 padding and modular cushioning design, which provides the best all around protection for the knees. While the Mizuno Ventus performs better at higher levels, the Mizuno LR6 are my choice for any level overall.

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Not using knee pads can lead to permanent knee damage.  While these are extreme cases, it never hurts to be sure. After all: prevention is always better than the cure.

In this article, I’ll be discussing:

  • The best features of knee pads
  • My opinion on the best brands
  • Whether knee pads are actually worth it

5 Factors to Consider When Buying Knee Pads For Liberos

5 factors to consider when buying knee pads for liberos

1. Diving Form

As a libero, putting your body on the line to get the ball is just part of the job. 

Good diving form reduces the amount of injuries you gather, even minimizing the need to use knee pads at all, if desired, but it doesn’t eliminate the problem. And while dropping on your knees should never happen, no one can predict what might be needed in the middle of a point.

For diving, consider your level of diving and experience doing it. Diving without confidence can lead to knee scrapes and friction burns as we subconsciously extend our legs to protect ourselves. During this stage, knee pads are extremely helpful and will help boost your confidence by minimizing your injuries.

2. Position on Court

While some positions need knee pads to comfortably perform to the best of their ability, such as libero, others do not. For any other positions reading this, know that while many of the choices listed below will perform equally well for you, it’s possible that you do not need them.

Liberos, consider your favored side. Many liberos wear a single knee pad to support the side they like diving best on, or even an elbow pad on one of their arms. If this sounds like you, it might be worth wearing even one, just to have the extra layer of support to help you bounce back. 

Remember: if you’re not already back up after diving, you’re late.

Not a Libero?  Check out my other article on the Best Volleyball Knee Pads for all positions. 

3. Life Expectancy

Durability is a big question for volleyball pads, and rightly so. They take a lot of impacts and are designed to take a beating, but even they have their limits. While some knee pads can last years, others need replacing every season, depending on your style of play.

Ask yourself how often you play per week. Is it over three times? Chances are that you need a higher quality knee pad for the level of exercise you’re doing. This will protect your knees better from impacts and last longer, saving you money in the long run.

4. Cost

Of all the things you need to buy for volleyball, knee pads are by far the cheapest

I bought two pairs and would switch between them depending how I felt for the day (or whether I had washed them or not), and this is an easily-manageable thing for other players also.

Most brands run between $20 and $40 – practically nothing compared to hundred of dollars of x-rays and physio sessions you may need later in life. As my dad always says: don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Saving a little money in the short run will only cost you more in the long, so don’t do it.

5. Brands

I’m going to be honest: when it comes to the best knee pads on the market, it’s always Mizuno. Because of this, the resulting list for this article is almost entirely made up of their brand, but that doesn’t mean other options don’t exist.

There are many reasons to depart from the list you’re about to read, such as knee pads for big legs and thick thighs or looking for integrated patella support (not just cushioning). In these things, Mizuno steps aside, and others take their place as the most fitting. But as the best knee pads for libero, with very few allowances, Mizuno stands supreme.

4 Best Volleyball Knee Pads For Liberos

The four best volleyball knee pads for liberos are:

  • Mizuno LR6 – Best Overall
  • Mizuno Ventus – Best Overall For Elite Athletes
  • Mizuno Elite 9 SL2 – Best Coverage
  • Asics Low Profile –  Best Budget

Mizuno LR6 – Best Overall

Best Overall

The LR6 are Mizuno’s “all-around” knee pad, with a low rise design and intended for use at all levels of play.

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The best volleyball knee pads for liberos overall are the Mizuno LR6.

These knee pads are fantastic and reliable. Having used them myself for many years, I can personally vouch for their effectiveness and longevity, retaining good value as knee pads well past their first year of use.

The LR6 are Mizuno’s “all-around” knee pad, with a low rise design and intended for use at all levels of play. The modular cushioning that all Mizuno knee pads use has a unique pattern for this product, and has used years of research and design on movement and the human body to implement VS-1 foam padding to protect your knee in the areas scientifically most needed.

The LR6 knee pads provide patella, lateral, and medial protection as well, thanks to the modular cushioning layout also. 

However, it should be noted that while it provides good cushioning for these areas, it does not give compression-style support to reduce knee pain. If this is troubling you, I suggest buying a knee sleeve to wear underneath or investing in a duel-purpose pad, such as the Mizuno Ventus.

Overall, the Mizuno LR6 knee pads are a fantastic option at a great price point, and one which will serve volleyball players of any level and capability well.

Pros:

  • Great cushioning
  • Unique modular design
  • Patella, lateral, and medial protection
  • Foam VS-1 padding
  • Great value

Cons:

  • None

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Mizuno Ventus – Best Overall For Elite Athletes

Best Overall For Elite Athletes

These are incredibly well designed knee pads that are used at high levels of play around the world.

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If you’re an elite volleyball player, then I recommend the Mizuno Ventus knee pads.

The Mizuno Ventus knee pads are incredibly well designed knee pads that are used at high levels of play around the world. While they arguably perform better than the Mizuno LR6 knee pads, they do not provide as much coverage and only perform best for players with established, expert technique.

Like all Mizuno products, the Ventus knee pads have their own unique modular cushioning design, slightly more raised and flared than the LR6 pads. This provides the most efficient padding possible at the fullest coverage while remaining lightweight and with minimal excess possible.

The Ventus knee pads are set into an elongated sleeves that functions similarly to a compression sleeve, providing inner knee support while keeping the pads securely in place. This is once again perfect for the highest levels of play, where the smallest distraction can lead to a loss.

I would recommend these knee pads to any player playing at the national level (junior or senior) or whose team has consistently placed well at the top university or club levels.

Pros:

  • Superior protection
  • Unique modular design
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Patella, lateral, and medial protection
  • Compression sleeve qualities

Cons:

  • Can be punishing for poor technique

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Mizuno Elite 9 SL2 – Best Coverage

Best Coverage

Have patella, lateral, and medial support through cushioning and a modular cushioning design.

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If you’re looking for a bit more knee coverage, because you’re just learning how to dive, then I suggest buying the Mizuno Elite 9 SL2 knee pads.

Like its siblings in the Mizuno line, the SL2 knee pads have patella, lateral, and medial support through cushioning and a modular cushioning design unique to itself. The difference is the coverage provided, and the SL2 pads have a much wider area of protection than the others, to account for any unexpected impacts made while playing. This makes them idea for beginner players.

The Dynamotion mapping allows these knee pads to conform to your knees well without issue or being too bulky, therefore avoiding their problems.

Lastly, these knee pads are vented at the back to help wick sweat away from the knee and to aid in breathability, resulting in a more comfortable experience when playing. They are also more forgiving in sizing than their competitors, and will comfortably fit a variety of leg sizes.

Overall, I would recommend this knee pad to volleyball players who are just beginning their journey, or for anyone who wants the maximum padding protection available.

Pros:

  • Wide area of padding
  • Shock-absorbing
  • Streamlined
  • Patella, lateral, and medial protection
  • Breathable

Cons:

  • Less specialized protection than competitors
  • Low durability

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Asics Low Profile – Best Budget

Best Budget

Use modular cushioning. Using dual density padding, they provide adequate cushioning and may be used effectively at all levels of play.

New: $21.00
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The best budget volleyball knee pads for libero are the Asics Low Profile knee pads.

These kneepads utilize modular cushioning similar to Mizuno, but are not unique as the design is shared with other Asics products. This does reduce its effectiveness compared to the highly researched designs of Mizuno, but only negligibly.

The Asics knee pads are smaller than their competitors in sleeve length, but similar in pad size. Using dual density padding, they provide adequate cushioning and may be used effectively at all levels of play. While the reduced size allows increased range of movement at the knee, it does not provide the compression sleeve qualities which longer options offer.

Overall, I would recommend these knee pads to anyone wanting a different option from Mizuno or who finds their material uncomfortable. With a comfortable fit and good price range, the Asics knee pads are a solid alternative.

Pros:

  • Good cushioning
  • Modular design
  • Increased range of motion
  • Comfortable
  • Good value

Cons:

  • Short sleeve
  • Less specialized protection than competitors

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Do You Really Need Knee Pads As A Libero?

The debate whether you really need knee pads in volleyball has been going on a long time. No matter what level you play at, you will always meet people who declare that there’s no benefit to wearing them if you have perfect technique and move fast enough.

The thing is, they’re right. You don’t need knee pads, especially if your technique is flawless, and your knees should never really be hitting the ground.

But the problem is that in volleyball – with countless, split-second decisions – you can never be sure of what is needed to win. You will not always receive simple passes or straightforward dives, and the higher level you play at the more you will be taken outside your comfort zone and forced to do things that you wouldn’t before . . . such as landing on your knees sometimes, or “dragging” during a dive.

If you really want to give it your all, you need to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Knee pads help prepare you for the unexpected and provide a measure of safety during unsafe movements. They are not perfect, nor are they perfect deterrents for injury, but they help.

At the end of the day, it’s not really a question of whether you need knee pads or not: it’s a question of pride. The best thing we can do as players is to respect each other’s choices and support them, even if you think it’s silly. We all only have one body . . . we might as well take care of it.

Final Thoughts

The best volleyball knee pads for libero overall are the Mizuno LR6 for their VS1 padding, complete patella, lateral, and medial protection, and their modular cushioning design to provide the best protection exactly where you need it.

While the Mizuno Ventus knee pads provide slightly better benefits, these only apply to elite athletes with long-established excellence on court, as the efficient padding does not support the movements of new players; those most at risk.

Finally, I believe that knee pads are an essential item to own for volleyball and provide great protection and style on court. While some players may not use them, this is ok, and proper technique can make up for many of the benefits they provide. Everyone has their own style of volleyball, and whether or not to wear knee pads is part of it.

Other Knee Pad Resources

 


About The Author

Ailan Samuel

Ailan Samuel is a writer and athlete who has played volleyball at the university, club, and national level since 2012. He has competed successfully in both beach and indoor competitions, resulting in four silver and two gold medals, and was awarded the Half-Blue while playing in Scotland. He received his MA in English and Medieval History from the University of St Andrews, Scotland, and is currently studying for his MA in Publishing and Creative Writing at Bournemouth University.