Shopping for a Soccer Ball - What's Important?
- Size 3
- Smallest ball and is generally used for children under the age of 8
- Size 4
- For players ages 8 through 13
- Has a circumference of 25-26 inches and weighs between 12-13 ounces
- Size 5
- The international standard match ball for all ages 13 and older
- Weighs between 14-16 ounces and has a circumference of 27-28 inches
There are currently two types of synthetic leather covers:
- Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
- PVC is durable and inexpensive
- Both water resistant and scuff resistant
- Great for entry level and youth players
- Polyurethane has a good feel and ideal durability
- Both water and scuff resistant
- Usually has a gloss coating for added protection
- Good for intermediate to advanced players
Soccer balls are designed with a specific panel design to determine how aerodynamic the ball is and how much control a player will feel.
- 32 Panels
- Most traditional round ball
- Roundness gives it superior flight and playability
- 20 Panels
- A 20 panel ball gives the player more control of the ball off of his/her foot
- Control is important for long passes and precise shots on goal
- 18 Panels
- Major League Soccer uses an 18 panel design ball
- 18 panels give the ball better aerodynamics for a true flight and create better control for the athlete
- 6 Panels
- Indoor soccer leagues use a six-panel design ball
- Since indoor soccer is extremely fast-paced, a ball with fewer panels aids in moving faster through the air
- Fewer seams and fewer panels result in less air/wind resistance
Shopping for Shin Guards - What's Important?
- Fiberglass is lightweight, stiff and offers excellent protection
- Foam Rubber
- Foam rubber is light and moldable, but offers less protection
- Polyurethane is slightly heavier and less moldable than other shin guard materials but offers extreme protection
- Plastic is generally less expensive
- Ethyl Vinyl Acetate (EVA) Foam or Lycra Backing
- Commonly found on the backside of all guards for comfort
- Many shin guards include padded ankle protectors which attach to the bottom of the guard
- Protects the ankles and Achilles tendon against direct kicks, but are soft and flexible enough as to not to interfere with movement
- Strongly recommended for players ages 12 and under
- Many shin guards do not include any type of ankle guard
- This offers less protection to the ankle and Achilles area, but offers improved speed and flexibility
- Shin guards should cover most of the area from the ankle to the knee
- Measure the shin from just below where the knee bends to about 1" above the shoe top
- Some manufacturers label the shin guard sizes according to age
- Senior (large) shin guards are generally designed for players taller than 5' 4"
- Junior (medium) shin guards are designed for players shorter than 5' 4"
- Benefits include:
- Holding the shin guard firmly in place
- Providing compression
- Increasing blood flow
- Reducing cramping and fatigue
- Machine washable
Shopping for Cleats - What's Important?
- Traditional Lacing
- Laces are located on the top of the cleat, as seen on most athletic and casual shoes
- Traditional lacing offers great support and lockdown of the foot
- Asymmetrical lacing
- Laces are moved to the lateral side of the shoe
- Lacing will not interfere with contact to the ball allowing for a cleaner striking surface
- Tongue Flap
- Keeps the tongue and laces of the cleat in place
- Helps prevent laces from coming untied during the course of a game
- Shoelace cover
- Similar to the tongue flap, a shoelace cover will keep the laces in place and prevent them from coming untied
- Most importantly, the shoelace cover aids in enabling the player to achieve cleaner contact with the bal
- Synthetic Leather
- A man-made synthetic material that is lighter and less expensive than leather
- May be used in key areas of an upper for added support
- Durable and easy to clean
- Kangaroo Leather
- Premium quality natural leather often used on more expensive cleats
- It is a thin glove-like material that provides strength, durability and improved feel of the ball
- Stable, strong and ideal for beginner and intermediate players
- Outsoles have non-removable hard plastic cleats formed on the bottom of the shoe
- Work well on harder turf surfaces
- Two primary categories:
- Hard Ground (HG)
- HG cleats are used on fields with extremely dry grass, dirt and even gravel
- These surfaces do not require much penetration of the stud in the ground for traction
- This durable outsole is easy to identify by the greater number of studs, compared to firm ground cleats
- Firm Ground (FG)
- FG cleats are the classic soccer cleat with studs designed to provide traction and stability on most outdoor soccer fields
- Indoor cleats often have a gum rubber outsole with a herringbone pattern , which is designed to stick to smooth hardwood floors
- Turf cleats often feature smaller, hard rubber projections or molded patterns in place of studs/cleats
- They can help prevent shin splints especially on hard indoor/outdoor surfaces and artificial turf
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