What soccer equipment does my child need?

Water bottles are mandatory at soccer practice and games. It’s hot out, and you can never hydrate too much. (Hello Kitty is definitely optional, however.)

Water bottles are mandatory at soccer practice and games. It’s hot out, and you can never hydrate too much. (Hello Kitty is definitely optional, however.)

One of the incredible things about soccer is that it can be played anytime, anywhere, by just about anyone. All it takes is a ball — and a couple other pieces of kit.

Here’s what your child will need for practices and games:

An (inflated!) soccer ball

Every player needs his or her own soccer ball. And that ball needs to be inflated. (Not to get all metaphysical on things, but is a flat ball really a ball? Or is it … something else entirely?)

Different age groups use different-sized balls. Here’s the right size for each group:

  • U5 through U8 use a Size 3 ball

  • U10 and U12 use a Size 4 ball

  • U14 and up use a Size 5 ball

We also recommend keeping an inexpensive pump (and needles) on hand to make sure your ball is properly inflated. Also: Please be sure to write your player’s name (and phone number or email, if you’d like) on your ball. As you can imagine, balls get left behind all the time, and we want to make sure they find their way home.

Soccer cleats

We play on grass. Thick, luxurious grass, carpeting the fields like an emerald paradise. (Hopefully.) The thing is, grass gets slick sometimes. And while seeing kids slip and slide all over the place is fun for a few minutes, it’s not great for soccer. (In fact, it can be a little dangerous.)

That’s where soccer cleats come in. They’ve got little nubs (not spikes) on the bottom that dig into the ground a bit and give our players the extra grip they need. Our players should wear their soccer cleats at practice as well as at games.

What not to wear? Cleats designed for baseball or football. Soccer cleats conform with the rules of the game, whereas other sports may have spikes or studs that actually would be dangerous on a soccer field. (Note: Screw-in replaceable cleats are not allowed in our rec league.)

Shin guards and socks

Shin guards are exactly what they sound like. They’re little inserts that help protect the shin bone. And they’re one of those safety things that players don’t appreciate until they take a good whack in the leg.

The point is, they’re super important — and are required for all practices and games.

Shin guards may slip into a sock, or they may have a stretchy ankle strap to help keep things in place. (They’ll also get pretty stinky over the course of a season. Be sure to wash them.

Also: Soccer socks are a must for practices and games. They need to be long enough to completely cover the shin guards and help provide the perfect fit for feet in cleats.

A (filled) water bottle

This may well be the most important item on this list. We live in Florida, where it’s hot and humid approximately 13 months out of the year. It’s extremely important to keep our children well-hydrated at practices and games.

To that end, you can never send your player to the field with too much water. A water bottle (or two or three) is not optional. It needs to be filled with water (yes, really), and should be big enough to last a whole practice or game without needing to be refilled.