You just put your child on a soccer team. Now what? What will he/she need? What will you need, as a parent? While some of the answers to these questions vary based on the level of soccer being played, the age of the player, and the league or club the player is playing in, this post will set forth the basic equipment you will need so that your soccer star will have a great season.
Basic Soccer Equipment
Every player, no matter his/her age, will need the following basic equipment for a season of soccer:
- Kit (uniform — check out my post on Soccer Lingo)
- Training Kit
- Soccer Ball
- Shin Guards
- Soccer Socks
- Soccer Cleats
- Water Bottle
- Cold Weather Gear
- Hair Ties
This will usually be provided by the league or club and, at the lower levels, may just consist of a colored T-shirt. Recreational leagues usually include the cost of the kit in registration fees. However, the kit will be an extra cost once your child moves to a competitive club.
At younger ages and recreational levels, this may simply consist of a pair of shorts and T-shirt that the child already owns. No need to get fancy, just some basic play clothes. At older ages and competitive levels, a club may require the purchase of a specific practice kit. A specific practice kit allows the coach to easily divide the players with a set of pinnies. Whereas, when every player has a shirt with a different color, that becomes more difficult. To save money for my team, I just asked all of the players wear a certain (common) color shirt, which worked out well.
Shorts may come with your kit/training kit, but, if not, I would recommend getting some soccer shorts. Other types of athletic shorts will work in a pinch, but are sometimes too long or baggy to allow for the types of movements soccer players make. In some cases, the bagginess even impedes the player’s view of the ball at his/her feet!
Here Are Some Nice Soccer Shorts at Amazon
Adidas Squadra Soccer Shorts
Every player will need his/her own soccer ball. The most important thing to know when purchasing a ball is the proper size. Here is a chart based on age:
- U8 and younger: Size 3 (Junior), ranges in size from 23-24 in./58.5-61 cm in circumference
- U8 through U12: Size 4 (Youth), ranges in size from 25-26 in./63.5-66 cm in circumference
- U12 and up: Size 5 (Adult/Professional), ranges in size from 27-28 in./68-70 cm in circumference
- All ages: Size 1 (Mini), ranges in size from 18-20 in./46-51 cm in circumference. A size 1 ball is great for developing skills and footwork and is also good for really young players, but will not be used officially in games (For more information click over to What Are Mini Soccer Balls Used For?)
One other thing on soccer balls – if possible, make sure the ball is properly inflated. A player’s touch on the ball is one of the most important skills to develop – even at a young age. A flat ball hinders that touch development significantly. As a coach, I carried a small pump around and would inflate my players’ soccer balls for every training session, if needed. However, the time spent pumping up balls could have been spent training skills if they had been properly inflated beforehand. For a little more information on soccer balls, check out 6 Best Soccer Balls – 2022.
One of My Favorite Soccer Balls!
Nike Soccer Ball
Every player will need shin guards. These are a basic, fairly inexpensive piece of protective equipment that can be found at most places that sell sporting goods. Referees will require shin guards at games. If a player does not have them, they will likely not be allowed to play. Players should also have shin guards at practices. For some reason, I often had players forget shin guards for training sessions. But, they’re just as necessary for training as they are for games! Make sure you get the right size for your child.
A Quality Pair of Shin Guards
Adidas Ever Pro Shin Guards
Longer, soccer-style socks will be needed. At the competitive level, these may come as part of the Kit / Training Kit. But, at the recreational level, you will likely be responsible for picking up a pair or two. Having soccer socks is essential because the shin guards will need to be fully covered by the socks. Again, referees may not allow a player to play in a game if their shin guards are not fully covered by his/her socks. As a coach, I was a little more forgiving for training sessions. They make really great looking shin guards these days, so my players would sometimes want to show them off! As long as they were safe, I was ok with that.
I Recommend These Soccer Socks
Adidas Copa Soccer Socks
Unless your player is playing indoor soccer or futsal (check out my post on Futsal vs. Indoor Soccer), your player will need cleats. Keep in mind that soccer cleats are designed specifically for the demands of soccer — speed, lateral movement, touch on the ball, etc. Baseball cleats and football cleats are designed for those sports and should not be worn for soccer. That said, basic firm ground soccer cleats are probably sufficient.
One additional word about cleats — make sure they are tied tight! I tied so many cleats as a youth coach that I could do it without taking my eyes off the game or missing a coaching beat. Having loose, untied cleats is distracting to the player and takes away from developmental opportunities — even if the coach can fix it in a flash.
Check Out These Boots!
Adidas Copa Cleats
Sounds obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times my players forgot their water! Players will need water at practices and at games. Again, the bottle doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but hydration is important.
This One Will Do the Trick!
Cold Weather Gear
Unless you live in an area that doesn’t experience cold weather, cold weather gear is key! Sweatshirts and sweatpants are preferred over coats and jeans as they will allow more freedom of movement. Hats and gloves are often helpful as well. Comfort is very important for focus. If a player is too cold, he/she will likely not be able to concentrate. While dressing for the weather may sound pretty basic, I often had players come to frigid training sessions with nothing but a short-sleeved shirt. I learned to pack an extra sweatshirt or two just in case.
This is Great to Wear as a Base Layer
Under Armour HeatGear Long Sleeve T-Shirt
If your player has long hair, make sure he/she has hair ties. Not just one, but several for backup. I’ve seen many missed plays because a player was pushing hair out of his/her face. It seems nothing is more distracting! When concentration is paramount, a hair tie can save the day.
Your player is likely to be outside in the sun quite a bit during practices and games. Sunscreen will help. I would recommend sports/athletic sunscreen that doesn’t run off with sweat. Your player is probably going to sweat… a lot!
Coppertone SPORT SPF 50
Optional Soccer Equipment
- Soccer Bag
- Cooling Towel
- Shoe Dryer
I list this under optional equipment because it’s not something that is absolutely necessary. On the other hand, it sure is helpful. It’s nice to have something to carry all your player’s gear. A soccer specific bag isn’t mandatory, but you should make sure whatever bag is used is large enough to carry a ball, extra clothing and a pair of cleats. Younger players can usually wear or carry all required gear to practices and games, but older players will likely want a bag so they can change into and out of cleats, shin guards, warmups, etc.
Everything Will Fit in Here!
Nike Club Team Swoosh Backpack
Some competitive clubs will require the purchase of matching warmups for their teams. However, at the recreational level (and for some competitive clubs) warmups are entirely optional. I will say that they are very nice to have for those cool to cold games. Once a player is on the field, the action of the game will usually keep them warm, but prior to the game or if a player is on the bench, warmpus certainly come in handy.
Stylish Jacket and Pants!
Adidas Tiro Jacket and Pants
While cleats are important to wear during practices and games, they’re not much fun to walk around in either before or after. That’s where slides come in. Slides are perfect because they can be worn with socks. That’s important because you can get your shin guards and socks all ready to go and then slip on your slides for comfort. I’ve never been a fan of how slides look, but they are definitely practical.
These are the Slides I Use
Adidas Adilette Slides
These are great for those scorching hot games and training sessions. Staying cool may be just as important as staying hydrated. Cooling towels work well between training exercises or when your player has been substituted out of a game.
Basic But Effective
Frogg Togg Chilly Mini Cooling Towel
This is a must for those cold and wet tournament weekends. It’s no fun to put on wet cleats before the big game. A shoe dryer helps with comfort which, in turn, leads to better focus. A word of warning – don’t let your cleats get too warm as it might melt the glue holding the shoe together!
Some players choose to wear a cup for protection – especially goalies. It’s important to make sure a cup is comfortable and does not restrict movement. Check out Do Youth Soccer Goalies Wear Cups? for more information and some recommendations.
Parents need certain equipment to support their soccer stars as well. None of these items is mandatory, but they will help with the enjoyment of the season!
- Golf Umbrella
- Weather Pod
- Foldable Wagon
- Small Air Pump
- Sports Canopy
- Spirit Wear
- Good Attitude!
You will need a folding / portable chair for the sidelines at both games and training sessions. I would recommend trying one out before you buy it. Some of the cheaper chairs are not very comfortable, and you’re going to be sitting in it for long periods of time. Also, the cheaper chairs often do not last. I often see remnants of lesser made chairs in trash cans at the soccer park. Spend a little more money for your chair — it’ll be worth it in the end.
The thermometer may say 50 degrees, but if the wind is blowing and you’re sitting still on the sidelines, it’s going to be cold! A nice stadium blanket will help keep you warm.
I recommend a golf umbrella because they tend to be quite a bit bigger than a normal umbrella. Normal umbrellas are really just meant to get you from one place to the next while keeping you somewhat dry. A golf umbrella provides better coverage for sitting in the rain for long periods. If it’s even just a bit windy, you’ll appreciate the extra protection. Bring them on sunny days as well. A little extra shade can be the difference between somewhat comfortable and absolute misery.
These devices are relatively new. Essentially, they’re one (or two) person tents that have a clear window to allow you to watch the game while you are shielded from the weather. The down side to these things is that, while they’re easy to set up, they’re really difficult to put away. While I have one of these, I’ve only used it in the worst circumstances due to the hassle.
Check This Out!
Under The Weather XLPod
Depending on how much of this equipment is necessary for a certain game, a foldable wagon can really come in handy. As a coach, I used a wagon for both practices and games due to the amount of extra equipment I needed.
Small Air Pump
Keep a small air pump for your child’s ball to maintain proper inflation. The coach won’t always have one!
You may already have a camera on your phone, but make sure you have something to preserve all of the fun soccer memories. There will be a lot of action shots, so proper shutter speed is key.
It’s a good idea to bring a sports canopy to games that are going to be hot or rainy. It could be used for parents on the sideline or even over the bench for the players. Sports canopies are most helpful in tournament situations. If there’s not enough time to go back home (or to your hotel) between tournament games, a sports canopy can be a real life saver.
Ok, so I love spirit wear. It’s an easy and fun way to support your team. Wear their colors and crest proudly!
The games may not always go the way you want them to, but if you bring a good attitude, your soccer player will have a great time. Be as positive as you can and it will pay off in the end!