In 2017, there were 11.92 million US citizens participating in outdoor soccer, and its popularity is ever growing. With a fast-paced game played in muddy fields, all the sweat, dirt and possible blood from scrapes and tumbles mean that the kit and equipment have to be cleaned very often. However, what seems to be a simple job, could be done incorrectly, and even go as far as to impact the game. As a team sport, every single player counts, and being responsible for your equipment is essential, as it could be the difference between a goal scored and a fatal mistake.
Cleaning the cleats
One of the most important pieces of equipment for any serious player is the soccer cleats, which after any good game, should look completely covered in dirt. It’s essential to look after them for the next game, so immediately you should knock off the excess mud from the soles. Use warm water and a little soap to wash off the rest, then wipe them down with a paper towel. For the upper portion, remove the laces and dip them in the soapy solution, rubbing at them to get the dirt off. Use a toothbrush and the water to scrub at the rest of the boot, and then finish off with a quick wipe down with a sponge. Finally, dry them off with another paper towel, and stick some newspaper inside them so that any possible water that’s leaked out is absorbed.
Be conscious of what you wash with
As soccer is America’s soon-to-be third most popular spectator sport, many people want to follow the trend across the Atlantic of buying their favorite player’s kit and having a kick about in that. However, when the blood, sweat and tears inevitably build up, most just stick it in the washer and don’t bother to think about what they're washing it with. Dangerous chemicals can lurk about in your cleaning products, causing illnesses, and meaning less time spent playing the beautiful game, and more stuck in bed with a flare-up. Even what you use to clean your body could have chemicals in that will irritate your skin and cause you harm, so before you buy, check the label.
Look after the ball
Any other piece of equipment could be forgone for a game of soccer, except for the ball. The most vital part of the game has to be looked after carefully, otherwise there’s no way to practice and improve your skills. After every game, wipe down the ball, and every few weeks, inflate it. The right amount of air required should be listed by the ball’s valve, and it’s so important to stick to this, as it can impact the game. Storing the ball is also as important because leaving it somewhere where it could get hot (like the car) could damage the ball, so keep it somewhere cool.
Don’t forget the small things
Every piece is important in the soccer kit, so each item should be respected as such. You can easily handwash shin guards and leave them to dry afterwards so you don’t have to play with muddy shins the next time. Use a stain remover to get even the worst blots out of the kit in order to prove to the coach or your teammates that you take the sport seriously. Don’t just stuff your socks in your bag and forget about them; put them through the washer with the shirt and shorts to avoid a stench when you retrieve them again.
Whether you’re aspiring to go pro, play for a team, enjoy practicing trick shots or just enjoy kicking a ball about with your friends, looking after your equipment is something very simple, but vital to ensure you get the best out of your game. No item should be ignored, especially considering how easy it is to make a huge difference. Along with practice, the best way to play the game is to look after the equipment, and only then can you play your very best.