Three Key Pieces Of Kids Soccer Equipment
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Three Key Pieces Of Kids Soccer Equipment

If you have a child who’s interested in playing soccer, you’re probably overwhelmed by the amount of equipment out there that you need to buy. Jerseys of his or her favorite player, a whole ballbag filled with soccer balls, top-of-the-line cleats, and so much more. But do you really need to buy all of this equipment?

No- you don’t.

As a player, ref, coach, and trainer, I know a thing or two about the game. And I can tell you that there are only three key pieces of kids soccer equipment that you’ll need for your little soccer tot. And they’re all pictured to the right!

Cleats

Yes, your little soccer tot will definitely need cleats. Now there is an important distinction I need to make between cleats and soccer cleats: make sure that you buy your child soccer-specific cleats. As a referee, we were instructed to not let any player with baseball cleats onto the field because baseball cleats have an extra stud right at the top near the toes that soccer cleats don’t have. This extra stud can do serious damage, not only to other players but to your own child as well. Even though kids’ knees are more rubber than tendon and bone at a young age, planting and twisting on that stud can still result in a serious knee injury. And a knee injury at a young age could potentially have more serious consequences.

For a youth soccer player, you don’t need any fancy cleats.A simple pair of Nikes will get the job done. They’re simple looking and I’ve always preferred Nike cleats, since I have narrower feet. If your child has wider feet, try Pumas, which tend to be a little wider. Either way, don’t spend more than $30-40 on a pair of cleats for your child, the quality simply isn’t there.

Balls

And you’ll notice I made that plural. As a parent of a soccer player, it is your responsibility that your child brings a ball with him/her to every practice and every game. As a trainer, I have a policy that if someone shows up to practice without a ball, they run laps. Soccer balls are remarkably easy to lose, no matter how much permanent marker you scribble your child’s name with. With that in mind, it’s important that when starting out, you buy at least 3 soccer balls for your child: one for practice, one for home use (outside of course!), and one game-ball that is a little nicer than the other two. My site has suggestions for soccer balls, including some rather colorful options that will surely make your child’s ball stick out from the pack.

Shinguards

The only piece of padding in soccer, shinguards are absolutely, 100% required equipment for any soccer player at any age. As a referee, the first rule you learn is no shinguards, no play.

Now, there are a lot of shinguards out there and more than a few factors to consider. First there’s size: make sure that the shinguard actually covers your child’s shin. I’ve played with many guys that have the dinky shinguards that barely rise above their ankles, and as a defender, their uncovered shins were my first target. Keep your kid protected with adequately-sized shinguards.

However, I strongly recommend avoiding shinguards with ankeguards. Number one reason is that they’re ineffective. If your child takes a slide tackle to the ankle (which he/she shouldn’t until at least age 12), a quarter-inch of cheap fabric isn’t going to stop an injury. Second, they’re horribly uncomfortable. They rub against your skin, chafing away and drying out the skin underneath the padding. In this regard, they end up doing more harm then good! And third, they usually cost more than regular shinguards.

So what’s left for you to buy? Stick to regular shinguards that are simple and don't have ankle guards. They're usually available on Amazon or from Modell's or something like that for $10-15 max.

That’s it for now; hopefully you have more of a handle on what kids soccer equipment is really necessary and what’s just for show. Visit my site for more info about youth soccer, training tips, and expert product reviews to make sure that you're getting your money's worth when you buy your soccer training equipment.


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