Most Important Soccer Gear to Keep Your Child Safe
Youth sports have new challenges right now. We want our kids to have all the benefits of learning to be on a team, but we don’t want to expose them to danger. That means following new social-distancing guidelines in addition to protecting them from injury. So while you’re shopping for the new season, make sure you focus on the most important soccer gear to keep your child safe.
For kids, the fit should be more important than style or even performance. When they’re learning to run, pivot, stop suddenly, and kick, just keeping shoes on your child feels like a miracle. A snug fit may not be as important to other sports, but in soccer, it’s everything. Don’t be tempted to buy a size up so that they can wear them next year. Extra length in the shoe makes it difficult to handle the ball, and sliding around in them is a good recipe for disaster. If there’s a full thumb’s width distance between her toes and the end of the shoe, it’s too big.
Kids aren’t allowed to play—or even practice—without shin guards because there’s so little cushioning to protect their shins from flying, cleated feet. Shin guards can minimize the impact, pain, and bruising. You can buy guards that attach with Velcro straps or just slip inside their socks. Younger players should use shin guards that are secured with a strap around the back of their legs and a foot stirrup. They offer more coverage and will stay in place. Look for guards that include extra padding for the ankle.
You’d think that your kid’s teeth would be safe during a soccer game, but soccer players are more likely than football players to sustain a dental-related injury. The key is making sure your child will wear it. Above all, a mouthguard has to be comfortable enough to wear for a quarter of play. Even if you haven’t had to invest in orthodontic work yet, you’re risking tooth fractures, so do what you can to make wearing a mouthguard more bearable: Let them pick the color.
You didn’t see this one coming, did you? In soccer, your cleats are only as good as your socks, which provide non-slip stability for all those quick moves. They need to keep shin guards in place, prevent blisters, and keep sweat from accumulating in the shoe. Look for soccer-specific socks that have added cushioning and arch support. If your child has new shoes, wearing two pairs can ward off blisters until they’re broken in, but don’t make a habit of it; doing this will affect the fit of the shoe.
It may not be on your checklist, but the most important soccer gear to keep your child safe may be a mask. They’re not required for play but are recommended for close-contact sports and indoor practices. At the very least, parents should wear them. You’ll just have to cheer a little louder.