Everything Your Child Needs To Begin Playing Soccer Again
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It has been almost four months since youth sports have been allowed to play. As most people have been trapped inside they may be suffering from quarantine brain. The world is beginning to open up and youth sports will be back soon, and you might have forgotten what your kids may need for soccer practice. So instead of forgetting your kids' cleats or shin guards when you arrive at the field, here’s a basic list of all practice necessities and different places to purchase new gear.
Being from New York, I have soccer stores and sporting good stores all over my neighborhood, but since going into stores isn't on the top of my list right now, I have found other websites to find quality and affordable equipment. If these websites I have listed are not available in your neighborhood, you can just Google the product you are looking for and local soccer stores in your area should pop up. Or you can search on Amazon for the type of equipment you may need since this is one of the most universal sources around the world.
Post-Quarantine Youth Soccer Practice Gear Guide
The most important piece of equipment that you can not forget is your kids' cleats. If you bought your child a new pair of cleats before quarantine they may still be in great condition, unless your kid's foot has grown, then you’ll have to invest in a new pair.
Don’t know where to start if they need a new pair?
Here are some websites where you can find a variety of cleats from all different brands, styles and prices ranging anywhere from $15 to over $100. (Yes, don’t worry, there is a clearance section and ways to get discounts!) Also an FYI: If your child’s feet grow fast I don’t recommend buying the most expensive cleats since you should prepare yourself to go through multiple pairs in one season, no matter how much they are begging for the new Cristiano Ronaldo cleats.
Soccer.com is my personal favorite for all soccer equipment needs. It is one website that has great options on clearance and plenty of different styles, colors, brands and sizes of cleats to choose from. Cleats can range anywhere from $20-$100+. Based on experience, they are great quality and they have free returns as well as free shipping.
WorldSoccerShop.com is another website you can find a quality pair of cleats. There is a sale section for more reasonably priced cleats but definitely a good place to find a variety of options.
Upper90.com is another well-equipped website where you can find affordable youth cleats, as well as any other gear you may need.
Nike.com or Adidas.com are my preferred cleat brands, but other cleat brands such as Puma, Reebok and New Balance have their own site selections. These cleats tend to be more expensive since they are directly coming from the brand website, although there are older styles and sales on certain shoes. However, one perk for Nike is that you can customize certain cleats to make them unique.
Cleat shopping can be stressful, especially now knowing you can’t try them on before purchasing, but if you order them and they aren’t comfortable or they don’t fit, a majority of websites have free returns — unless they are final sale items, of course. So do not stress and find reasonably priced cleats for your child and just remind them that the cleats don’t make the player!
2. Shin Guards
A much-needed piece of equipment. Although I am convinced shin guards aren’t always protective, they are required, especially at the youth level with all your little ankle biters.
In my experience, I feel like parents sometimes struggle to find a pair of shin guards that properly fit their child. I would see kids wearing shin guards bigger than their legs, making them struggle to run. Although it is more reasonable to buy a bigger size that they will grow into, they struggle to move around in big bulky shin guards and you will just have them complaining and asking to take them off every five seconds, trust me.
The best places to purchase shin guards would be Dick’s Sporting Goods, Upper90, Pelesoccer.com, Soccer.com and even Amazon, or again any local soccer store.
I would recommend for a child 6 years old or younger that they should have the shin guards that strap to their shin with the ankle guard. Although this is bulky and they may not love them, it will protect them from being kicked and prevent many tears that would be shed. The sizing will be based on your child’s height, so if you are not sure exactly what size just go bigger to be safe. You'd rather have more protection than not enough. Now you may see shin guards that have no straps or anything and they just slide in underneath your child’s sock as shown in the second image below. These may not be the best option for a child under 6 years old because they will fall out or move around. Shin guards can last more than one season, so until they become more comfortable with being kicked in the ankles I would suggest holding off on the slide-in pairs and stick to ones similar to the first image below.
3. Uniform/Practice Jerseys
Not all youth teams require kids to wear matching practice gear, but if your team does definitely don’t let your child be the only one in different attire. Plus, if your child has grown over the past four months, you’ll definitely need an upgraded uniform.
4. Soccer Ball
Whatever you do, do not let your child show up to practice without a ball. As kids, they enjoy having their own soccer ball and if your coach doesn’t provide them with one, sharing isn’t always as beneficial when individual work is being done.
If I had a dollar for every time I lost my soccer ball at a tournament or at practice when one of my teammates would kick a field goal into the bushes during shooting drills, I would be rich. So when your child wants the brand new World Cup ball that costs a fortune, just prepare yourself to have to buy a new one in the near future.
Soccer ball sizes range based on your child’s age group.
- Ages U-12 and older use a size 5 ball
- Ages U-8 to U-12 use a size 4 ball
- Ages 8 and younger use a size 3 ball
You can find the properly sized soccer ball at any sporting good store, Target, Walmart, Amazon or any soccer website such as Soccer.com, Upper90.com, Pelesoccer.com, etc. This soccer ball shown below is from Amazon and can be purchased in sizes 3, 4 or 5. There are more kid-friendly choices as well and a variety of colors. Most soccer ball brands are reliable except those balloon-feeling ones you can find in your local supermarket.
5. Soccer Socks
Do your child a favor and start making them look like soccer players from a young age. As some younger kids like to wear short socks with their strap-on shin guards, this look isn’t really acceptable, although it is tolerated.
Growing up I would purchase my soccer socks from Dick’s Sporting Goods or local soccer stores near me. If the team doesn’t provide socks, I would suggest Amazon or any soccer store I have previously mentioned.
Here’s a quick sock and shin guard hack as well: There is a way to get the best of both worlds and buy socks that already have shin guards inside of them. They may not be 100 percent most protective, but when I was younger they were a time saver when I needed to get ready for practice.
6. Water Bottle
The return of youth sports is coming at prime summer time, so definitely make sure your child has enough water because now more than ever they will not be sharing with others.
7. Hair Ties (For girls or boys with long hair)
Make sure to have a few extra hair ties in your child’s soccer bag. If their pony-tail falls out and they lose it or your son’s man bun hair-tie breaks, they'll need to have an extra. Nobody likes running around with hair in their faces.
8. Soccer Bag
The home for all your child’s belongings. Do not forget it. Having a soccer bag is the best way for your child to be organized and make sure they have everything they need.
If your team does not provide you with a soccer bag, a regular backpack used for school can do the job or you can purchase one online. This particular soccer bag below has a cleat compartment, ball compartment, water bottle holder and enough space to probably put your kid in there too. The same bag can be found on several different soccer websites, but this one is from Upper90's website. Upper90 stores are located in New York, but they deliver across the U.S. and internationally.
Obviously everyone is always in a rush after practice to get to places they need to be. When your kid is running through the parking lot or McDonald’s for a post-practice meal, they are in their cleats, which wears the spikes down way faster than usual. To make your child’s cleats have a little more wear time, take their cleats off after practice and put a pair of slides, flip flops, sneakers, Crocs or just anything other than their cleats.
10. Good Attitude
We know everyone is eager to get back to playing and parents want their kids to be out burning off some bottled-up quarantine energy, so make sure you and your child make the best of every practice. Let the coaches coach and let your child play.
Hopefully these few tips and resources will help you find what your child needs to return to soccer practice. These products and websites are just suggestions for those looking for other avenues to purchase equipment at more reasonable prices. Remember, when you look good, you feel good and you will play good.