So, what gives? Well, there’s a couple of things that make the new pro style socks fit–and feel–so different from their ancestors.
First is the material itself.
The old knitted socks have much more stretch to them since they are a blend of a synthetic fabric (polyester) and a natural fiber (cotton). This stretch factor allows for a snug, but not tight fit which you can usually then tailor to your preference with the use of shin pad tape or straps.
Second is the way the socks are constructed.
The older knitted styles are just that…knitted. Imagine your great granny knitting a nice, new sweater for your Christmas present (don’t feel bad, we all got one) and you’ll recall that the striping where the color changes occurred were connected by the knitted loop of the yarn. Poly/cotton socks are similar in that there are no seams or stitching where the stripes are, so the socks expand and contract pretty well based on the pliability of the material from which they’re made.
The newer pro style socks, however, are not made this way…they’re actually constructed from cut-and-sewn panels of different materials for a better fit, better performance, and better durability. Rigid, durable fabric is used for the shin and knee area, then moisture-wicking stretch material in the thigh. Then, if there’s striping, that’s actually wrapped around the sock itself and stitched on…and that’s what changes the fit and feel of the socks.
Since the striping is made from heavy-weight material and sewn to the body of the sock, it doesn’t stretch as much as a knitted sock does, which can make the socks feel a little tight, especially if you wear bulkier shin pads. If it’s your first time using the pro style vs. the traditional style, just give it a little bit of time to get used to it and you’ll be singing the praises of the new style before you know it.
If you’re still unsure if you want to make the switch, a good rule of thumb is this: The more stripes on the pro style socks, the less stretch it’s going to have.
They cost a little more money upfront and take a little getting used to, but when you consider how easily the old knitted poly/cotton socks rip and tear, overall, the new pro style socks are a pretty good option.