Here at Soccer Drills and Skills, we want to make sure you know exactly what soccer equipment is available to you – and what may be most suitable for your age and skill level.
The soccer ball is the only necessary item of soccer equipment. Soccer players love to own one, and everyone has a favourite! The photo shows my current favourite ball😀.
There are many companies that manufacture soccer balls of varying prices and qualities.
When you are starting out, you don’t need a really expensive ball. In Australia, you should be able to purchase a good ball to begin training with for under $30. If you plan on using your soccer ball a lot, make sure that the stitching looks strong and the outer layer doesn’t look like it will rip easily. I’ve had some of the cheaper balls go out of shape really quickly as the stitching split and the bladder started to push against the broken stitching. And – as I discovered quickly – don’t kick your soccer ball on the concrete if you can help it…. because that really shortens its life!!!
So what size ball should you buy? That depends on the age of the soccer player. In Australia the following sizes usually apply – but check with your club just to be sure.
Under 6 – Under 8: Size 3
Under 9 – Under 12: Size 4
Under 13+ :Size 5
The three main types of Soccer Ball:
Professional Match Soccer Ball
Professional Match Balls are made to exact specifications and are designed to enhance speed and accuracy. They are usually approved by an official organisation such as FIFA. These balls are designed for play on both natural and artificial turf. They are made of the best quality materials and at least five layers are used in the construction of a Professional Match Soccer Ball. These balls are the most expensive because they use the best materials and are tested most thoroughly.
Match Soccer Balls
Match Soccer Balls are less expensive than Professional Match Soccer Balls. They can be used on all types of surfaces. Like Professional Match Balls, they are of a standard size, weight, and shape. Match Soccer Balls are designed for all age levels and all skill levels. This type of ball is used in club matches at clubs all around the world.
Practice Balls are extremely durable balls made for extended use on all different surfaces. They are usually constructed with four layers or less and often the outer layer is some type of PVC. Sometimes these balls do not have stitching on the outer layer – instead, the panels are moulded together for strength. These balls are the cheapest type of ball.
Shin Pads or Shin Guards
Shin Pads or Shin Guards are a piece of protective equipment designed to protect a player’s shins from injury. Shin Pads are made with a hard light protective outer shell and padded inner material. They are placed in front of the player’s shin, usually under the socks. Shin pads can be purchased fairly inexpensively and are an important safety device. (They sure make a difference if you are kicked in the shins with studded soccer boots!) When playing soccer games, shin pads are compulsory.
Shin Pads should cover the shin – not the entire lower leg. A good shin pad will cover about 3/4 of the leg between the ankle and the kneecap.
There are several types of shin pads/shin guards.
Slip-in Shin Pads/Shin Guards
Slip in Shin Pads are lightweight and easy to push into the socks just before a game – even if the player already has their shoes on. Slip-ins do not provide as much protection as Ankle Shin Pads. They also sometime move around if they have only the sock to secure them, and in this case tape, compression sleeves or shin pad stays (with a hook and loop closure) may be needed.
Ankle Shin Pads/Shin Guards
Ankle Shin Guards have a protective shell over the shin, but also have a guard for the ankle and a strap that runs under the soccer player’s foot. These shin pads stay in place well and provide better protection and even some ankle support. They do, however, need to be put on before the soccer player’s socks and shoes are put on. In some ankle shin pads, the ankle support is removable and the ankle shin pad can become a slip-in shin pad. As players progress to a higher level of soccer, sometimes they find that ankle shin pads can be a little more restrictive and strikers, for example, may feel that slip-ins are more suitable in giving them the least restricted access to the ball.
Shin socks, as the name suggests – have the shin protection built into the player’s socks for convenience. In my personal experience, these are not as known in Australia.
An important question that people often ask is “What soccer boots should I buy?”. A player’s soccer boots are a vital piece of their soccer kit. If your soccer boots don’t fit correctly or aren’t suitable for your feet, then this will be a great hindrance to your game. Conversely – the right soccer boots will help bring out your peak performance. Your soccer boots need to provide good grip or traction on the soccer field. They should also provide good support while playing. Below are some factors to consider when purchasing your soccer boots.
What material are the boots made of?
The “Upper” of a soccer boot is usually made of either leather or synthetic material.
The leather is a natural material that will mould to your feet. It allows the player to have an excellent feel for the ball. It does, however, usually absorb water when you play on a wet field. If you decide to buy boots with a leather upper, make sure the leather is a firm fit when you buy the boots – as the leather upper will stretch as you wear them and play soccer.
Synthetic material is a man-made material. It is often lighter and stronger than leather. It doesn’t stretch in wet conditions but it isn’t usually as comfortable as leather. Synthetic material can often be made waterproof (unless it is ‘mesh’ with small holes in the material).
When you try on soccer boots, you will find that they vary in weight. In general, soccer boots have got significantly lighter in the last decade. Usually the heavier soccer boots are more durable and the lighter boots offer better performance to the soccer player. Players who need to be particularly quick and agile – eg wingers – benefit most from light soccer boots.
Mouth Guards are small devices that fit into the mouth and are designed to protect the teeth, gums and lips of the soccer player. There are three main types of mouth guard.
Stock Mouth Guard
Stock Mouth Guards can be purchased ‘over the counter’ and are a generic mouth guard. They are the least expensive option in mouth guards. This type of mouth guard offers the least protection as in it not specifically designed for the individual player’s mouth and there is only slight adjustment that can be made to make this mouth guard fit the individual soccer player’s mouth.
Mouth Formed Mouth Guard
A Mouth Formed Mouth Guard is a generic type of mouth guard that offers more adjustment to the individual soccer player’s mouth than a stock mouth guard. For example, it may be adjustable by placing the mouth guard in hot water so that it molds more to the shape of the player’s mouth.
Custom-made Mouth Guard
A Custom-made Mouth Guard is made by a dentist and cast to exactly fit your teeth and mouth. This type of mouth guard offers the best protection and comfort as it is individually made for the specific player’s mouth. It is, however, the most expensive type of Mouth Guard.
A set of training cones is a great item to own if you are serious about improving your soccer skills. They are inexpensive and light weight and portable. Cones can be used as markers at set distances to dribble the ball around. They are used in many soccer drills and are a great addition to your soccer kit.
Agility Training Ladder
As soccer is all about agility, using an Agility Training Ladder is a great way to improve speed, footwork and fitness. And as an added bonus, if you play other sports as well, then the Agility Training Ladder is likely to be beneficial in many other sporting pursuits.