Five Must-Have Items for Soccer Moms (and Dads)
The US Women’s National Team just did it again! Is your daughter now dreaming of playing alongside Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan in future World Cups? Perhaps your son wants to be the next Christian Pulisic, scoring goals on an international stage. Regardless of your child’s skill level and aspirations, the summer months are important for youth development on the soccer field. And no summer soccer event is complete without the proper soccer supplies.
In this blog post, our outdoor sports supply experts here at Extreme Canopy cover the full list of essentials that soccer moms and soccer dads alike need to bring to the game. Help your kids be the very best soccer players they can be, so that next year they can make your high school’s varsity team, your city’s travel team, or maybe even the United States’ Youth Development Team. Check out our list of soccer parent essentials to help your players to reach their full potential.
Keeping Up With Calories and Electrolytes
Summer soccer season is the time when coaches try to push their players and grow their endurance for the competitive fall season. With kids’ schedules free of school and most other extracurricular activities, coaches are prone to schedule two-a-days (sometime even three-a-days!) during these hot summer months. For youth athletes, this leads to a lot sweating and calorie-burning. Your young star is going to need to recover from these tough workouts and practices in order to grow and stay healthy.
To ensure excellent nutrition and hydration for your child, make sure you have electrolyte-heavy drinks such as sports drinks, Pedialyte, or even electrolyte tablets to put into regular water at practices and games. Try out a bunch of different brands and flavors to see what your kid likes the best and then make sure to stock the fridge and soccer bags with his or her favorites.
Your child should never be going to practice on an empty stomach, nor should his or her stomach stay empty for long periods of time after getting back from practice. Have a wide variety of healthy (but also tasty) snacks in your fridge, pantry, and car to ensure that your athlete is always fueled. Snacks that are high in protein and provide the body with good sugars — such as protein bars, fresh fruits, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, yogurt, and trail mix — are great quick options for recovering athletes. Don’t forget recovery meals either. Again, have your recovery meals be something that kids really enjoy. This will help motivate them get the needed calories back into their system to recover physically and mentally from the grueling practice schedule.
Where Would a Soccer Player be Without a Soccer Ball?
Ball is life. It’s an expression that spans several sports. Since you and your family live, breathe, and sleep soccer, you may have never heard the stories of some of the best NBA point guards who, growing up, always had a basketball in their hands. They’d dribble down the sidewalk, practicing moves on passerby. They’d bring their balls to school, hustling to the gymnasium between classes to put a few shots up. They’d even practice palming the basketball before falling asleep. This same principle should apply with any soccer player and his or her ball. If your little soccer star wants to keep progressing towards his or her US National Team aspirations, he or she should have a soccer ball at their feet as often as possible to work on ball-control, touch, and dribbling. In order for that to happen, your kids need to find a ball they love. Take them to a soccer-specific store and let them choose any ball that their heart desires. If they don’t find one that speaks to them, search the internet with them and find the right ball that they can fall in love with.
Cleats: In Most of the World It’s Called “Football,” After All
There’s a chance that your budding soccer star might be a major gear-head and know exactly which cleats, shin guards, and practice attire are best suited for his or her aesthetic style and style of play. Or, like many kids, your kid just might like to play the game: gear isn’t on the brain. If the former is true for you, have your kid make a gear related wish list with multiple options of what they want and align it with your own soccer budget. If everything on the list is top-of-the-line expensive, start with the second or third gear choice, and consider using choice #1 as a reward for good grades or good performance during the season.
If your kids are in the second camp and don’t care about their cleat brand as long as their feet don’t hurt, take them to a soccer shop. If you live in or near a large city, go to a soccer shop that has a patch of turf and a goal in the back so that your kids can get a feel for their cleats in a game-like situation. It’s a much better cleat-test than having them walk around a concrete floor for a few feet. If a true soccer store isn’t an option for you, you can see which cleat websites have free return policies and get a few potential pairs for your kid to try on in the back yard to find the right fit.
Protect Your Kid’s Shins and Head
Safety is a big part of soccer, and knowing how to keep your kid safe starts with knowing his or her style of play. If your kid is a big, bruising center back or tackle-loving holding midfield, you’re going to want to prioritize protection over sleekness. There’s nothing worse than having your kid’s season end prematurely because he or she banged shins with another player. But if your kid is a light-on-the-feet, speed-demon striker whose game will suffer if weighed down by clunky shin guards, look into getting something extra light (but still protective) that is designed to keep up with quick feet. If your kid is the type of player to attack every header on the field, look into getting him or her a padded head band or a rugby scrum cap to keep the concussions away. But if your kid is scared of even attempting a low-speed glancing header, then he or she is probably fine without protective headgear. Moral of this soccer story: know your kid’s style of play and protect them accordingly.
Summertime Sun Protection: Sunscreen and Canopies
Speaking of safety and protection, one of the most important things that your child needs protection from is the sun — especially in the summertime. And for sun protection in the summer, too much is never enough. Look to both the obvious and the not-so-obvious for your sun protection solutions.
First the obvious. Get both high-SPF spray-on sunscreen and heavy-duty face-specific sunscreen. Both should obviously be sweat resistant. Spray-based sunscreen is amazing for its easy-application properties, while face-specific sunscreen is the best thing for protecting all of the parts on a face that burn quickly (nose, ears, forehead). Get into the habit of applying sunscreen before you let your kid loose on the practice field or a game pitch. For the first few seasons, don’t trust kids to do it themselves. (Spoiler alert: they won’t.) Wait until the habit is fully ingrained in your kids before taking a hands-off approach to sunscreen application.
Now, the not-so-obvious. All the sunscreen in the world won’t do much to protect your kid and his/her teammates from sun-related heat exhaustion. Your kids are trying to play their absolute best to win their summer league; be a rockstar team parent by ensuring that shade is available at every practice and game, even if there are no trees near the pitch. As the industry leader in instant canopies (also known as pop-up tents), our team here at Extreme Canopy knows how extremely sapping (and dangerous) heat exhaustion can be in these summer months. And while kids tend to mostly prioritize having fun (and winning) and coaches tend to prioritize player development (and winning), it is the job of soccer moms and dads to prioritize safety (and winning). Check out the link above to see for yourself how affordable it is to provide the safety of shade on those hot summer days, and also be sure to check out accessories for your tent. Providing shade with an instant canopy will also help your team’s chances of winning, as players will be less worn down from the heat. Get a custom canopy to show team spirit with custom colors, text, logos, and even photos.
Last But Not Least: The Sometimes-Forgotten Soccer Stuff
Wasn’t it Diego Maradona who said: “A pump! A pump! My kingdom for a pump!”? Maybe not — but quotes aside, having a deflated soccer ball is a major setback to your little striker’s dreams of World Cup Glory. Get a soccer pump and have your kid put it in his or her soccer bag, but not before going through the ins and outs of proper pump usage. Without guidance, kids can break anything, pumps included.
If your child really does have dreams of greatness, then practice shouldn’t only be happening when a coach is present. It should be happening in your driveway, in your backyard, in any other patch of open space that your kid can find. Invest in getting pop-up goals, bounce-back nets — or, if you’ve got the yard space — a full-sized soccer goal. These pieces of equipment will help your kids improve their game whenever they want to.
There’s no telling how much of a competitive advantage team pride and confidence is. You see it everywhere as “home court advantage.” The Screaming fans. The large painted team insignias around the gyms and stadiums. The banners and flags waving. In a youth soccer league, it’s a little harder to get real “home court advantage,” seeing as most games are being played at city-owned soccer complexes. What’s a passionate soccer parent to do? Here at Extreme Canopy, have your home court solutions! Bring home court with you wherever you play with our wide selection of custom canopy tents and standard instant canopy products for a one-two punch of sun protection and team pride.
If you already have the sun-protection and only need the pride, check out our selection of affordable banners and flags. If your kid practices hard, plays inspired and with pride, then pretty soon you might be a soccer mom or dad cheering on your child in a stadium built for thousands, rather than in a lawn chair on field #17 of your local soccer complex. Shop with us for next season’s essentials!