Every Player (Child/Adult)
enrolled in our winter/summer programs, Rep or house league, receives a
T-shirt, shorts and socks. Every player in our outdoor season receives a
full uniform. That leaves only a couple of items for the player or the
parent to supply. The following are some tips on how to choose appropriate
equipment for young players — including how to avoid spending too much!
the shoe fits.
Please, for your young
player’s sake, do not buy shoes for him or her “to grow into” or “to get two
years of use”. If you enrolled your child in dance classes, tennis,
gymnastics, or any other sport where foot movement is important, you would
want a good-fitting shoe; Soccer is no different. Yet every year coaches
find kids with shoes a couple of sizes too big, often stuffed with paper at
the toe. This is a false economy which not only interferes with the child’s
game and progress as a player — it can also lead to injury.
As any soccer player will
tell you, the “feel” for the ball is vital to successful passing and
control. If a child is trying to learn to kick a ball with an extra inch of
empty shoe sticking out in front, he or she is handicapped right from the
start. Shoes that are too big also put the child at risk of turned or
sprained ankles or painful blisters.
We all know how quickly
kids’ feet grow, so it’s a good idea to have them wear two pairs of thick
socks when shopping for soccer shoes. Wear both pairs in games at the start,
and you can always take one pair off and keep a snug fit as their feet grow
over the course of a season.
Pick a price range, and try
on different brands. There’s really no sense to spending a lot of money on
shoes for young players. Provided the shoe fits well, is made of leather
(cheap vinyl shoes are too hot and don’t last), and has good support at the
back of the heel, it will serve. When shopping, press your thumb into the
back of a shoe’s heel. If it feels soft or collapses inwards easily, it will
not give adequate support.
Look for the better shoes
in the low-end price range of reputable brands such as Adidas, Puma, Nike,
Mitre or Pony. Try on different brands. Even though they are same size, two
brands will not necessarily give the same fit. Some are better suited to
narrower feet, for example.
The best idea is to shop at
a soccer-wise store. The sales people are experienced in fitting young
players and will give good advice.
Shinguards are a must! A
few years back, FIFA, the world’s governing body for soccer, made shinguards
mandatory equipment for players. With good reason. A kick in the shins is
darned painful at any age! For the youngest age group, where kids hunt the
ball in packs and often completely miss the ball with their kicks, a pair of
good shin-guards is as essential as a helmet in hockey.
This is one item of
equipment where you can expect to get several seasons of use, and it pays to
buy the best you can afford. There are many different types available,
ranging from simple, dense foam-rubber types, up to high-tech inflatable.
Some styles have elastic stirrup straps…others have elasticized half-socks,
with hard ankle caps. For 5 and 6-year-old, the foam-rubber types are
probably adequate, although they tend to be bulky. They do not provide good
protection against a strong 7-year-old’s kick, however, and we strongly
recommend that players age 7 and up wear one of the resilient plastic types
that conform to the shape of the leg.
Selecting a soccer ball. If
your child loves to play, and you’d like to see him or her develop as a
player, they need a ball. It doesn't have to be an expensive soccer ball.
Most of us who grew up in other lands and other times learned the game with
any ball we could find — tennis balls, or even balls made of old socks and
tape. Most sports stores carry rubber or molded practice balls that are fine
for home practice and can survive being kicked around on asphalt or kicked
against a wall.
If you do buy a real soccer
ball, remember that the full-size ball is proportioned for adults. To a
little guy, a Size 5 ball is like a beach ball to a man, so go by this:
Up to age 8 or 9, a
Size 3 ball is ideal
From Age 9 to 12, a
size 4 is adequate.
There’s little point in
spending a lot of money for a top-of-line brand-name ball. Balls do get
lost, or run over in the driveway, and a fancy name or flashy design adds
nothing to the function of the ball. So long as it will hold its air and can
stand a lot of use, an inexpensive ball will be fine for your child.
One last tip… write your
child’s name on the ball, clearly, in a couple of places, in indelible ink.
That way it’s less likely to go home with someone else.
Enjoy the game