With the success of this years World Cup soccer in the United States, many families are getting their children involved in soccer leagues and other soccer organizations. Kids get their daily exercise in, and families get to learn more about one of the fastest growing sports in America.
Another great thing about playing soccer is that you don’t have to invest a lot of money in equipment and gear. Requiring only a few pieces of equipment and an open field, almost anyone can play soccer, whether on a regulated team or in a friendly pick-up game.
As far as getting your child involved in the sport, all you really need to invest in are a good pair of soccer cleats, shin guards, and a soccer ball. Most everything else will be provided by any league they will join.
These are similar to softball cleats, but the cleats on the bottom of the shoe are short and made of rubber for soccer. Baseball cleats also have toe cleats, which are not allowed in soccer. And, if your child is under age 9, they may not even need special soccer cleats – they may be able to wear regular tennis or running shoes as long as they have good support.
Kids grow out of shoes so quickly that it is very tempting and would be more financially feasible to purchase used athletic shoes or cleats, or to get some hand-me-downs, however shoes that have been handed down or just worn too often may become unstable and would not provide the support your child would need to run and play soccer.
Lower legs and shins are definitely going to take some hits in soccer. Being a contact sport means that you will need to protect yourself before competing, and shin guards are a great way to avoid painfully bruised-up shins. Shins are also a likely area for injury in soccer, so protecting them as much as possible is a good idea.
Since this would be provided during league games and practices, this is more for a personal practice usage at home. Make sure to get the same size ball that your child will be using in practice and during games so they will get to know the feel of the right ball.
Other things you will need, but may be provided for you include:
Team shirt: part of the team uniform
Team shorts: may be included in the team uniform. If you have to purchase your own, make sure they are loose-fitting and don’t hang below the knee
Practice shirt and shorts: same rules as above for shorts, anything goes for a shirt
Socks: Long (up-to-the-knee) socks work best to cover shin guards and help keep them in place
Water bottle: Staying hydrated is important while exercising, especially during hot summer months. Water is great, and many coaches will advise drinking sports drinks before, during and after practices and games
Some things that would be nice to have, but not mandatory, would include things that would be used as training devices such as soccer cones, a practice goal, equipment bags, and even a soccer rebounder so you can get in a large number or touches with the ball in a short period of time.
Eye glasses are not advised during a regular game. Due to the fact that a soccer ball could come flying at your face at any given moment, eye glasses could be very dangerous during a game. Jewelry, including watches, is also not advised, as it could get lost or harm the player if it gets snagged or grabbed by another player.
So really, just a few key pieces of gear can get someone on the road to playing soccer. A minimal investment in equipment makes it easier to cover the fees of joining a soccer league or club.