You finally did it. You bit the bullet and signed your child up for that travel soccer team. Now it’s time to buy the soccer gear that makes him show off his skills and the soccer bling that makes going to games a little more fun.
Within a week you’ve received no less than a dozen emails requesting everything from his birth certificate to the uniform kit to your weekend availability 3 months from now. Your mind starts to swirl with questions.
Are his cleats too small?
What size ball does he need?
Should I buy new shin guards?
Do I need a new chair now that I’ll be sidelining for soccer tournaments and games all season?
So. Many. Questions.
Take a deep breath.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was a child soccer player. To help quiet the noise and simplify the process, I have compiled 2 equipment lists. The Soccer Must Haves and the Soccer Accessories.
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Soccer Gear Must Haves
One of the benefits of soccer is that there is far less gear required than other youth sports (looking at you lacrosse and hockey). There are really only a handful of soccer essentials that your child will need on Day 1. Here they are:
No surprise here that cleats are #1 on the list, but you may be surprised at how quickly your child wears them out. We’re lucky if we get 9 months out of a pair of soccer cleats. The downside is that you’re purchasing them frequently, but the upside is that they make great soccer gifts for birthdays and holidays. And if the old pair is still salvageable, use them as backup cleats and throw them in your car or soccer bag. We’ve used backup cleats more than I care to admit.
I suggest having your child try on several pairs to see which style he prefers- slip on vs lace up, below the ankle vs above the ankle. And as I mentioned in my post about travel soccer, you get what you pay for with cleats. Name brand cleats are sturdier and last longer than store brands (e.g., DSG).My kids personally like these soccer cleats from Adidas.
We’ve also had success with these soccer cleats from Nike.
Your child has likely already played in a rec soccer league so he will have an opinion on the type of shin guards that he likes. My kids prefer these shin guards, but there are other options that cover the ankles.
There are hundreds of soccer balls that you can choose from but the main criteria is the size of the ball. Here is a soccer ball size guide. While balls make great soccer gifts, kids tend to have an opinion on ball color so I would have an idea of what they like before buying one. The wall of soccer balls at Dick’s is pretty impressive and a great way to see all the options at once.If you’re in a pinch and pressed for time, these Brasilia balls are great and are nice and bright for easy spotting.
Two other pieces of advice related to soccer balls- (1) write your child’s name and phone number on the ball because it’s guaranteed he will lose a ball at practice if he sticks with travel soccer long enough and (2) make sure you purchase a soccer ball and not a futsal ball. Futsal (or indoor soccer) balls are smaller, heavier, and don’t bounce as much.
Sure, you may already have a water bottle, but as I mentioned in my previous post, you can never have too many water bottles. They crack, leak and key parts disappear with regularity around our house. For travel soccer, I recommend a large water bottle like this because in those hot months, your child will and should drink a lot of water! Like the soccer ball, I would recommend writing his name on it or tying a ribbon to the handle to avoid confusion during practice.
Soccer Bling & Accessories
Whether your daughter insists on keeping the flyaway hairs flat or your son wants to keep his long hair out of his face, head wraps are a great way to do so. Thes headwraps are great because they slide on and off easily and you can print your name, number, or image on them.
Another great option is a fleece head wrap that covers your child’s ears during the winter like this ear warmer. Toboggans sometimes get too floppy and hot when they’re running up and down the field, but wraps that just cover the ears are a great compromise. And they’re the perfect stocking stuffer size if you’re looking for an inexpensive soccer gift.
Soccer Ball Pump
I’ve lost count of the number of pumps we have in our house, and the number of broken or bent needles is even higher. Do yourself a favor and buy a pump and at least a handful of extra needles. This soccer ball pump is a great option that comes with 5 needles. I recommend letting your child have the first needle and hiding the others because they seem to disappear. They’re likely hiding with the missing water bottle parts.
Solo Soccer Trainer
This soccer accessory isn’t for the game, but it’s a great activity for your kids to do on their own at home. It makes a great soccer gift and keeps them entertained without you having to act as the goalie. This is the soccer trainer that I like.
Those late spring and early fall tournaments are brutal so I recommend this mister to throw in their soccer bag. You’ll likely see the entire bench spraying each other, but at least they’ll stay cool.
I’m definitely jumping around from one extreme temperature to the other, but those are the soccer tournament weekends that stick out in my mind the most. Whether your child prefers to play in gloves or just tuck his hands inside his sleeves, hand warmers are always key, especially when he is sitting on the bench. I would go ahead and buy a bulk pack because they’re easy to slip into bags, and you’ll also be using them on the sidelines. Another great soccer gift that easily slides into a stocking.