According to statistics in 2009 by Consumer Product Safety Commission soccer is the fifth sport with 88,000 injuries being treated at hospitals emergency room.
These are kids aged between 5 and 14 years old. I have listed below 10 soccer protective gear for kids and what to consider when buying one.
Soccer is a contact sport and injuries do happen however with proper game rules, warm-ups, and protective gear, this can be minimized. You will find that soccer mandated equipment are not that many and are bit cheaper than other sports.
The following is an extract from FIFA Regulation:
Except for the Playing Equipment used for beach soccer, in accordance with
Law 4 of the Laws of the Game, the basic compulsory Equipment of a Player
comprises the following separate Equipment items:
a) a jersey or shirt with sleeves
c) socks (stockings)
d) shinguards; and
The first thing to bear in mind is to make sure your kid’s own protective gear does not harm him or her. And the second consideration is protecting your kid from other players action.
1. Player’s Jersey And Pants
Soccer clothing should not be regarded as a uniform or for decoration only. The right clothing plays a big part in protecting your kids while the wrong one will do the opposite.
The correct clothing will protect your kid from sunburn and minimize dehydration. Most sports fabric designs have incorporated technology such as Nike’s Dri-Fit that are designed to keep your child’s body dry and have breathable mesh so that heat is let out to cool the body.
Some sportswear protects against the harmful UV rays when playing in the outdoors.
A good soccer clothing should protect your kid by slowing down dehydration, and minimize grazes, and protect against the harmful UV rays.
2. Soccer Cleats
Soccer cleats played a major role in protecting your kid’s feet during training. As young kids are basically in development stage their balance and coordination are a bit clumsy, therefore they need a good shoe to stabilize the feet.
A good pair of soccer cleats provide good traction to avoid your kid slipping to the ground and holds the feet when running and kicking the ball which reduces sore feet and toes. It must fit comfortably otherwise your kid will injure his or her foot and I am not talking about blisters here.
I am talking about ankle sprain when it twisted sideways or kicking the ground because the shoe is too long.
Generally, soccer cleats protect the feet when being stepped on, and any sharp objects that may lie in the field. They should be made of strong material like leather or synthetic leather.
I would recommend buying Firm Ground cleats because they provide stability to the player and are safe for other players.
Socks does two things when worn correctly. It reduces friction on your kid’s feet inside the shoes. The friction can cause blisters that can be painful when walking.
And a good sock reaches the knees so that it can hold the Shin guards in place but it must not be too tight and cause discomfort. It also protects the lower legs from grazes during tackles.
The common fabrics used are cotton, wool, and synthetic fabric. While cotton is light and comfortable it also absorbs sweat which causes blisters and wool is thermostatic which means it is comfortable at any temperature but very expensive.
The synthetic fabric is the most preferred material because it provides comfort, agility, and breathability to the player. Synthetic fabrics are made from polyester, spandex, and nylon.
The synthetic fabric socks are the type you should look for as they provide better protection to the wearer and safe to other players.
4. Shin Guards
Wearing a shin guard is mandatory by soccer rules and it’s definitely a piece of important safety equipment that protects the Shin. This is the area between the knee and the ankle.
Good shin guards can absorb the impact when the legs clash during playing. Some shin guards extend the protection down to the ankle as well, which is good but can restrict movement.
A Shin guards should be worn facing the front and underneath the socks. I have seen kids wearing it outside the socks which made me cringe.
If worn outside the socks, there is a possibility that it will come off during the clash of legs can cause injuries to other kids because it is exposed.
There are varieties of shin guard but good ones are made of polypropylene, K-resin, and high-density foam.
A good Shin guards should not absorb moisture that might add extra weight. It should be strong and lightweight and allow normal movement.
For a start, I would recommend shin guards that protect the ankles as well until your kid gets older. By that time he or she should develop strong bones and play with safety in mind.
===>read my Shin Guards Review here<===
A mouthguard is not mandatory but parents and kids can choose to wear it to be on the safe side. The mouth guard protects the teeth, tongue, and gums inside the mouth.
During the contact, there is a chance that the teeth will bear the impact which may result in loss of tooth and cuts to the gum, lips, inside the cheeks, and tongue.
There are basically 3 types of mouthguards available:
Custom-made: this type of mouthguard was created by your dentist to fit you personally. Therefore they fit perfectly inside the mouth but they are more expensive than the other 2 options.
Boil and bite: they are almost similar to custom-made because you soften it in boiled water then insert it in the mouth. The mouth guard will take the shape of your teeth when harden. They are cheaper than custom-made and can be bought online or your nearest store.
Stock: these are performed mouthguards that you normally buy online and wear it. They are inexpensive but might not be as comfortable as the 2 previous options.
I recommend the boil and bite mouth guard because it will fit your kid’s mouth comfortably and not as expensive as the custom-made. The stock mouthguards only got bad PR on the comfort side but they are effective as well especially for those who play for recreation only.
Although not mandatory headgear does offer protection to minimize injuries to the head, such as concussion. Some causes of injuries are nasty falls, head collision with another player or the goalpost if you are a goalkeeper.
Headgear is quite common these days especially for players with previous head injuries or a player who is concerned about long term head injuries – which is a good decision.
Some headgear covered the entire skull and others cover just around the head leaving the top of the head open, it’s called the halo style. Protective headbands also cover the lower skull but are thinner.
If you would like to buy a headgear make sure it is comfortable and does not distract your kid’s performance. Please read the vendor’s instructions on how to wear it.
7. Eye Protection Goggles
The Prevent Blindness America that hospital emergency rooms treated 44,000 sport-related eye injuries every year. This is optional equipment not in soccer rules but important for kids with sensitive eyes to dust or with one functioning eye.
Soccer prescription and nonprescription eye goggles are available. Eye goggles with ASTM F803 standard are proven to be effective by the British Journal of Ophthalmology
8. Goalkeeper’s Gloves
Gloves protect the palms of the goalkeeper by absorbing the sting when catching a hard shot ball. Some gloves like Adidas gloves protect the fingers from hyperextension during finger saves – those critical saves made by the fingertips.
They also protect the goalkeeper’s wrist from sustaining injuries. As gloves are optional you are not required by soccer rules to wear them but there other benefits such as good grip
===>read my GOALKEEPER GLOVES here<===
9. Goalkeeper’s Long Pants & Sleeve Jerseys
It is mandatory for the goalkeeper to wear a different color kit from the team. A goalie can opt for long or short pants and jerseys depending on the weather.
But you must consider that the roles of a goalie are different. They can dive to make saves so they land on the ground quite often. Most common injuries occur on the elbow and knees
Some vendors manufactured padded legging and jerseys that not only protect the elbows and knees but also around the hip, shoulders, and ribs area.
Most goalkeeping pants and shirts come with pads on the elbows, knees, and thigh area. I recommend you look for these features when shopping for your kid’s goalkeeping pants and jerseys.
Caps are good because they protect the goalkeepers from the glaring sunshine. They are not mandatory but as long as it does not pose any injury risks to other players it normally allowed.
What Not To Wear
Earrings, necklaces, metal wristbands and bracelets can cause injuries to other players and the wearer. It can be pulled by other players or get caught in another player’s shirt. Either way, the referee is always on the lookout for these objects.
Metal stud shoes are a menace and I have seen the damage it can do to other players. Young kids are still learning and familiarizing themselves playing with others and my recommendation is to best leave metal stud cleats to older kids.
When not sure on what type of soccer cleats to use, always go for Firm Ground (FG) type which is accepted for use on any surface.
Non-sports clothing is not recommended because they can cause injuries to other players and the wearer. It will also limit a players performance because it does not stretch and absorb sweat and becomes heavy.
If you carefully selected the protective gear I recommend your kid should be fully equipped for training. Also remember that the FIFA mandatory gear your kid must wear is shoes or cleats, shin guards, socks, and soccer jersey and shorts.
Also, wearing protective gear does not guarantee your kid from injuries if he or she started playing recklessly on the field. Explain to your kid to be a good sportsman or woman and go out there on the field and have fun.