To play soccer safely and comfortably, a few pieces of equipment are necessary. This article will discuss those and other, more optional pieces for the beginning soccer player of any age. Because soccer is played almost solely with the feet and legs, it is important to protect them. Cleats, shin guards and soccer socks are three essential pieces of equipment for any player. Choosing the right ball for personal use is important. Some optional pieces of equipment include a small net and cones.
Cleats are special shoes designed to aid running in grass with blunt spikes placed on the bottom. They are lightweight and streamlined, similar to track or baseball shoes and yet distinct. Some cleats have metal spikes but most recreation leagues forbid them since they can easily injure other players. Most cleats have an extra long tongue that fold over the tied laces so that when kicking with the top of the foot, the laces do not disrupt the angle of the ball. Cleats should be tried on to ensure comfort before purchasing. Most sports stores will stock several varieties of cleats and store staff will be able to give advice on fit. Remember to bring a pair of soccer socks when trying on the cleats. Lighter socks will not leave enough room.
Shin guards are pieces of stiff plastic and padding used to cover the shins. Some shin guards also come with extra padding for the ankles. The lower legs are commonly used in soccer to stop the ball, and they are also in danger of being kicked accidentally by other players, so they are important to protect. There are two major types of shin guards. One is lighter and smaller and straps onto the leg. The other is more like a pair of leg warmers with stiff padding in the front. The lighter kind can be more comfortable but also more prone to falling off. To help both kinds of shinguards stay in place, long socks are worn over them. Soccer socks are worn to just under the knee and are usually made of a thick cotton. Soccer socks can come in all sorts of bright colors and patterns, but most teams will ask that their colors are worn during games.
Although most teams have several balls for their teams to use, it is a good idea to buy a personal ball as well. This allows practice to continue at home and in the case of a ball shortage. Soccer balls come in a range of sizes. Ages twelve and up use a size five, while eight to twelve use a four and those players under eight years use a size three. Having the right size ball can make a big difference in a player's success.
Soccer is a team sport, but it can be practiced independently with the aid of some extra equipment. Buying a small net allows a player to practice shots. The net is pulled tight and will rebound the ball back to the kicker. Some nets even come with targets to aid in precision. For footwork drills, a collection of small cones is useful to own. These can be placed in various patterns to practice dribbling.