I remember back when my girls first started playing soccer it was so much fun to buy little pink and black cleats and colored socks for their U6 AYSO teams “The Pink Princesses” and “The Blue Butterflies.” Now that they are practicing and playing 4-5 times per week, the equipment is much more important…and expensive. Here’s some of the things my girls use regularly…
A good pair of cleats is essential for a kid playing numerous times during the week. There are many different kinds of cleats and you just have to have your kid try on a bunch to figure out what they prefer. My girls love Nike cleats- especially their Mercurial line. They tell me they are light and comfortable.
Cleats do not provide much support! If your child is experiencing any foot pain there are many different insoles available. The ones pictured are “super feet.” It’s not always the most expensive ones that are the best however. My Big Soccer Girl loves the heel inserts I purchased at Rite Aid.
My girls are “totally over” wearing any of the AYSO style colored socks. Our club game socks are Nike dri-fit white socks and I just went ahead and bought a million of them. The girls say they are comfortable…and they all match!
Shinguards are pretty much the only required equipment for a soccer player. My girls use the small slip-in kind because they like the feeling of having their ankles free. These also cut WAY down on the nasty smell factor because nothing is going around their foot. For games they use shinguard straps to hold them in place, but for practice their socks hold them up just fine.
Sliders are tight compression shorts that some players wear under their game shorts. Big Soccer Girl likes to wear these while Little Soccer Girl couldn’t care less. Since she is so slim, they are difficult to find, but the boys section usually has some small sizes. She likes the Under Armor brand.
6- Under Armor
I’m using a brand name to describe a broad category of “things you wear under a soccer uniform to keep warm when it’s freezing during your game.” Some refs can be very picky about the color of the Under Armor if it’s showing, so we have white and navy to match our two jerseys. Big Soccer Girl also gets cold legs, so she occasionally wears Under Armor tights as well. (Beware! This stuff can get expensive so only get it if you are sure your kid will wear it) If your kid isn’t overly sensitive, the Champion brand has cold gear for sale at Target (in the boys section of course). It’s not as soft as the Under Armor, but the price is a whole lot more friendly.
7- Sports Bra
Yep, even the littlest girls need something to wear under their jersey because they often need to change right on the field into a different color jersey. I have a lot of trouble finding ones small enough for my girls, but I’ve had good luck at Target and even Justice.
8- Refillable Water Bottles
I try to save the planet and use the reusable water bottles. My favorite are the Contigo brand as they are BPA free and leakproof. We just purchased some at Costco that are insulated so they keep the water cold. They are also easy for the kids to use and wash really well. They are not cheap, but they really last…until your kid leaves it on a field somewhere.
9- Soccer Ball
You may want to talk to your coach about what type of ball to get, but U9-U13 use a size 4 ball. I always try to find the most obnoxiously colored ball so that I have a small prayer of the girls finding it after playing. You can spend a fortune on a ball, but we usually stick to a $20-$30 budget. It’s less painful that way when it’s lost/borrowed/eaten by the dog.
10- Pre Wrap
For soccer girls of all ages, it’s an essential. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen any kid use it correctly, but it makes great headbands.
Where can you buy all this stuff?? Although chain stores like Sports Chalet and Sports Authority are usually conveniently located, they usually only have a limited selection of soccer gear. However, they are great places to look for Under Armor gear for keeping warm and water bottles. Here are some other recommendations…
Soccer Central– They have several locations and obviously specialize only in soccer! Their salespeople are knowledgeable and eager to help. Stores have specialty jerseys, gloves, balls, socks, shorts, tape, and of course shoes. They stock many of the high end cleats and although they may not have the exact size or style that you are looking for, at the very least they’ll have something that your child can try for size. You can then order from…
Eurosport– When you strike out at your local brick and mortars, it’s time to head to the internet. As I mentioned above, even if a store doesn’t have the exact shoe/glove/cleat/shinguard/ball that your child desires, you can have them try on a similar style in the same brand and then place an order on-line.
I especially like Eurosport because of their customer service. Our club has an on-line store at Eurosport where you can purchase extra jerseys etc… Last summer I thought my Big Soccer Girl had lost her dark jersey after a tournament. (Of course she was with Soccer Dad…lol) After using an old one for a while and looking for the missing one, I finally decided that it wasn’t going to turn up. I went ahead and ordered the custom $50 jersey and well, you can probably guess what happened. Yep, I found the jersey stuffed in an outside pocket of her backpack two days later. I thought for sure that they wouldn’t cancel my order as it had already processed, but when I contacted them and explained what happened, they were very kind and cancelled my order and refunded all the charges. That was amazing! They have a loyal customer for life. I order all of our coach’s equipment from them as well. You can join their “Goal Club” which gives you many great discounts- especially when you order often.
Any other essentials for your soccer girl or boy?