If your child is getting ready to start soccer training, you will need to make sure that they have all the right equipment for their first session.
Having the correct equipment can help a child to improve at their game in leaps and bounds, while not being properly equipped can, unfortunately, significantly hinder progress.
In this article, we’ll be providing you with a list of the 17 most important pieces of soccer gear and equipment your child will need to start training.
If any of the listed items are unfamiliar to you, don’t worry - we’ll also be providing an explanation of the purpose of each one and why they are so important.
Without further ado, let’s kick off with our first item!
1. A Soccer Ball
The first item your child will need if they want to train at soccer is a soccer ball.
While your child’s school or training center will most likely have a supply of soccer balls, this is not always a guarantee.
Moreover, your child will need to practice at home if they want to improve their game significantly.
Having their very own soccer ball will enable your child to practice whenever they want. Besides, a soccer ball is a great tool to ensure that your child is spending a healthy amount of time playing outside.
It probably goes without saying, but before your child starts their soccer training, they will need a good pair of cleats.
Your child may not necessarily need their cleats for practice sessions, although rules can vary between coaches, so it’s always best to verify beforehand.
What your child almost definitely will need cleats for, however, are competitive league games.
Cleats are more important for playing soccer than many parents realize. In fact, although some parents express worry that metal cleats could present a danger to their child on the soccer field, cleats are actually designed to help prevent injury.
The purpose of soccer cleats is to grip into the ground and provide more traction, particularly in wet conditions.
Before you go out and buy some cleats, however, it’s wise to check with your child’s coach whether games will be played on a natural grass field or on a turf surface.
The reason for this is that regular cleats won’t work as well on astroturf and can even be dangerous when worn on an incompatible surface.
A couple of pairs of soccer shorts are essential, whether your child is playing soccer competitively or simply as a recreational activity.
You should choose shorts that are easy to wash. Darker colors are ideal because any stains from mud or grass won’t show up as much.
Lightweight, breathable materials are the best choice, especially when the hot weather rolls around.
If you’re only prepared to invest in one or two pairs of shorts, it’s best to ensure that they are sufficiently moisture-wicking and fast-drying that washing them between practice sessions won’t be an issue.
Your child will also need some soccer shirts to go with their new football shorts.
Once again, dark colors and fast-drying materials are the way to go if you want to make the washing process as easy as possible on yourself.
The upper body is very prone to sweating, particularly in the armpit area, so prioritizing breathability is always a good idea.
5. Team Colors
In addition to the shorts and shirts that your child will need for everyday soccer practice, you’ll also need to buy them a soccer kit in their team colors.
Your child most likely won’t be required to wear their team kit outside of competitive games, but this kit will be very important in regulated league matches to distinguish one team from another and to foster a sense of pride and community within the team.
Your child’s coach may have a specific kit that they will ask you to purchase, or it could be the case that they just need you to purchase a shirt and shorts in the team colors for match wear.
The best way to approach purchasing this item is to check in with the coach and discuss any specific requirements, preferences, or expectations well in advance so that there is no confusion when the first matchday rolls around.
6. A Tracksuit
Shirts and shorts are all very well for playing soccer when the weather is fine, but in adverse weather conditions, your child is likely to need a tracksuit for soccer practice.
In some cases, a coach may require players to wear their tracksuits on match days, in which case, they will probably either assign a specific kit to purchase or ask you to purchase a tracksuit in the team colors.
If none of the above applies, you can go ahead and select a tracksuit for your child based primarily on comfort and warmth.
7. Shin Protectors
Your child will definitely need shin protectors, otherwise known as shin guards, if they are going to be playing soccer.
In competitive match situations, your child will not be permitted to participate in the game if they do not have shin guards.
Shin guards are extremely important when playing soccer because they have been proven to reduce the risk of fractures caused by a hard kick or soccer ball to the shin.
Remember to get your child a pair of soccer socks!
It’s important to understand the difference between regular socks and soccer socks because the former will not be appropriate for playing soccer.
Soccer socks will be long, relatively thick, and should cover the shins so that they can be pulled over shin guards.
Bear in mind that some soccer players like to wear an extra pair of socks under their soccer socks to help prevent blisters, so it’s also a good idea to buy some training socks for this purpose.
Even if your child doesn’t regularly play in goal, it’s a good idea to get your hands on a quality pair of goalkeeping gloves.
You never know when team positions might change based on the events that unfold in practice sessions, and it’s possible that your child may be asked to play in goal as part of a drill, even if it is not their usual role on the team.
Therefore, it’s wise to make sure that your child has a pair of goalkeeping gloves in their kit bag (more on this later) to cater to all potential situations.
Make sure that the gloves are specifically designed for goalkeeping use; otherwise, they won’t provide sufficient hand protection.
To distinguish between high-quality and subpar goalkeeping gloves, you should look for thick layers of padding and the amount of grip in the palms and fingers.
10. Thermal Wear
When the weather starts to get colder, we recommend investing in some thermal wear for your child to wear underneath their kit.
Even when running up and down a soccer field, playing in very cold weather conditions can feel very uncomfortable without the right thermal wear.
Under Armour is a trusted, high-quality brand used by many recreational and professional soccer players to provide an extra layer of warmth.
You can buy t-shirts, vests, leggings, and more thermal wear from Under Armour, so you’ll be able to find everything your child could need in terms of thermal gear.
11. A Coat
Don’t forget to send your child to soccer practice and matches with a coat!
You don’t necessarily need to buy a new coat specifically for soccer, but even if the weather seems fine, make sure that your child has a coat to take with them.
The weather can change on a dime, and the last thing you want is for your child to be caught in the rain in nothing but their shorts and t-shirt after a match.
12. Training Shoes
In addition to their soccer cleats, your child will need some standard training shoes.
As we mentioned previously, soccer cleats are not suitable for use on all surfaces. While cleats are the best option for playing on a natural grass terrain, they’re not ideal for astroturf or other indoor soccer arenas.
This is why it’s best to invest in a pair of training shoes (you can find models specially designed for soccer) to ensure that your child is never caught out without the correct equipment.
13. A Reusable Water Bottle
The importance of staying hydrated during soccer practice and matches (and during any sporting activity, for that matter) cannot be overstated.
Before your child goes off to soccer practice, make sure that they have a full water bottle to sip from during breaks.
Ideally, this bottle should be reusable. This will ensure that you’re never scrambling to find a plastic bottle of water before a match or training session, and you’ll also be doing your part to save the planet!
Water isn’t the only thing your child might need to keep them going through their soccer games.
You should always make sure that your child has a snack or two to keep their energy levels up before and after their match or practice session.
Granola or protein bars are good choices, as are pieces of fruit. Basically, anything healthy that can be eaten quickly and will release enough energy.
If your child doesn’t usually feel hungry, we recommend sending them to practice with a bottle of a sports drink that they like. This will help to replenish blood sugar and keep energy levels up even if they don’t feel like eating.
15. A Gym Bag
We’re aware that this is turning into quite a long list, which means that your child will have a lot of equipment to take with them to soccer practice and matches.
To ensure that your child has a practical way to transport all of their gear, we recommend investing in a relatively large and durable gym bag.
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just as long as it has enough storage space and the fabric is durable enough to withstand heavy loads and sufficiently water-resistant to be used in all weather conditions.
16. A Ball Pump
This item isn’t essential in the same way as some of the others on our list are, but it’s still a good idea to make sure that you have a ball pump on hand in case your child’s soccer ball begins to deflate.
A ball pump isn’t something your child will usually need to take with them to matches or practices, but it’s useful to have one in your home.
17. A Mouthguard
We’ve put this one right at the bottom because a mouthguard is not usually required for soccer practice, in the sense that there is no rule saying you can’t play if you don’t have a mouthguard.
With that being said, we would still recommend investing in a good-quality mouthguard when your child starts playing soccer.
If your child has a particular interest in playing in goal, the importance of a mouthguard increases tenfold.
A 1986 study of Texas High Schools actually demonstrated that soccer players suffer from a higher incidence of dental injuries than American football players, despite the latter’s reputation for being a more physically dangerous sport.
This is likely due to the fact that American football players are required to wear mouthguards while soccer players are not.
The American Dental Association has made a statement recommending the wearing of mouthguards during soccer games.
If you’ve read all the way to the end of this article, then congratulations - you’re one step closer to making sure that your child is fully prepared for their first soccer game!
Remember to consult with your child’s coach about any color requirements for the kit before you go out and buy anything. Choose dark colors if possible, and prioritize fast-drying, moisture-wicking fabrics.
Also, bear in mind that there are certain items of kit that your child will not be allowed to participate in matches (and, potentially, practice) without. Shin guards, for example, are essential and cannot be left off your shopping list.
Finally, don’t forget to send your child to matches and practice with all the snacks and water they need to feel and perform their best.