Each sport has its own unique set of equipment that an athlete must have in order to compete and succeed. The type of equipment depends on the sport you are playing as well as what kind of surface you're playing on. For example, if you are playing on a field, it is important to have cleats, so that you can gain traction while running on the grass. While playing sports on ice you need the right skates to skate efficiently.
Bags are a must have for any coach. Whether it is a backpack, drawstring, or duffel bag, coaches need an easily transportable piece of equipment to store their gear. Clipboards, play sheets, cones, whiteboards/markers, and spare safety items are just a few of the items that are often stored in a coaching bag. Duffel bags are often preferred amongst avid or full-time coaches, as they have lots of space to allow for storage of all the essentials. Most bags are relatively inexpensive, ranging anywhere from $25 to $50.
Clipboards are used by coaches across a wide range of sports. They are used to hold important documents in place (i.e. scouting reports, diagrams, practice agendas) and easily carry them from one place to another. In basketball, coaches can often be seen presenting tactical adjustments and strategies to their players using a clipboard. The clipboard is generally the first thing to be destroyed when a coach becomes extremely frustrated so most coaches have several of them on hand, especially since they are inexpensive and easily replaceable.
Pinnies are sleeveless, mesh tops that are worn over a player's regular game or practice uniform. Different colored pinnies are used to indicate which players belong to each team during competitive events. In football, the quarterback is equipped with a red pinnie during practice to remind teammates to avoid initiating physical contact with the player at all costs. Pinnies are designed to be extremely lightweight and breathable, so that players are not inhibited in any way by wearing an extra garment. While multiple pinnies are generally bought in bulk to accommodate an entire team; each individual item averages out to about $5.
Whistles are integral pieces of coaching equipment in sports such as soccer, football, and basketball. They are mainly used during practice sessions to direct players or indicate when play has stopped/resumed. Most whistles are tied to a string that is worn around the coach's neck to make them easily accessible. The biggest advantage to using whistles is that they allow coaches to grab the attention of a large group of players in noisy environments where simply shouting would not suffice.
Balls are perhaps the most important items when it comes to game equipment. Depending on the sport, balls come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. For example, basketball are round and weigh approximately 22 ounces, whereas football are pointed spheres that weigh 15 ounces (NFL). In most sports, the ball must cross a certain boundary line or area in order for points to be awarded to the scoring team. Since balls change hands frequently and are constantly subject to be kicked or thrown out of play, several backup balls are often brought to each game in addition to the ball that is used at the start.
Bases are found on nearly every baseball and softball field. There are four different bases and each is square-shaped, with the exception of home plate which has a pointed tip that extends towards the backstop. Home plate is the most important base, as it is used to indicate where batters must stand in addition to being the point of contact needed for baserunners to score runs. First, second, and third base are the same with regards to size and shape. There is 90 feet of distance between first and second base, as well as second and third base. First base is positioned on the right side of the infield, followed by second base in the very center and finally third base on the far left side. Baserunners must touch each base before proceeding to the next one.
Goals are metal structures with netting attached to the inner portion. They are used in soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, and ice hockey to indicate when a team has scored. In each sport, the ball (or puck) must cross the goal line in order for a point to be awarded.
Posts are used in rugby and football and serve a similar purpose. Most posts are made out of metal, with a large cylindrical base and two L-shaped arms. In both sports, points can be scored by kicking the ball in between the uprights. Different point totals are awarded for different situations. For example, a successful field goal attempted from 40 yards away is worth three points in football, as compared to a one-point kick from a short distance following a touchdown.
Nets are crucial components of any goal or basketball hoop. They attach to the structure's frame and are used primarily as a buffer to prevent the ball from sailing through the goal or hoop. Most nets are made of knotted nylon squares, as the material is extremely durable in addition to not inhibiting the flight of the ball in any way. The purpose of the net in a soccer goal is different than that of a basketball hoop, with the former preventing the ball from continuing to roll outside of the field of play while the latter ensures that the ball falls gently towards the floor so that it can be easily recovered by the opposing team.
Footwear is an integral part of any athlete's wardrobe. Some sports require shoes with special soles, whereas others require spiked or pegged shoes called cleats. The type of footwear used depends entirely on the sport. For instance, dancers wear thin shoes with a flat front end that allows them to perform on their tiptoes, while football players wear cleats that dig into the playing surface and allow them to make quick cuts.
Jerseys are numbered garments that athletes wear for identification purposes. Various types of fabric and jersey styles are utilized depending on the sport. For example, basketball jerseys are sleeveless garments that are made out of a sweat-wicking polyester material, whereas baseball/softball jerseys are short-sleeved shirts made of breathable heavy-duty cotton fabric. Not only do jerseys help commentators recognize each athlete based on their own unique number, they also help to differentiate one team from another since each team generally has its own color patterns and designs.
The term 'uniform' is used to describe the entire ensemble worn by an athlete or group of players. This includes the jersey, pants, footwear and headwear in some cases. For example, a football player's uniform is not complete without a helmet, jersey, football pants, socks and cleats. Each team has its own set of home and away uniforms complete with the team or school's designated color patterns and insignias.
Penalty cards are used in both soccer and rugby to indicate when a player has committed an illegal or unnecessary act that warrants formal acknowledgement by the referee. They are similar in size to a set of traditional playing cards. There are two different cards that can be issued during the course of a soccer or rugby game. Yellow cards represent a warning. In other words, if the player that has just received a yellow card commits another excessive or forbidden offense, further action will be taken (i.e. ejection from the contest). Red cards on the other hand are given for intentional or extremely aggressive acts, with the receiving player being instantly ejected from the game without a prior warning.
Referee uniforms are generally made out of the same cotton or mesh material as player uniforms. However, they are designed much differently. In most sports, referees wear black hats, shoes, and pants, in addition to shirts that have alternating black and white stripes. This ensemble makes them easily distinguishable from players and coaches on the court or field of play. Referees can expect a one-time cost of $75 for the entire uniform, which can be purchased at various sporting goods stores such as Dick's Sporting Goods or Foot Locker.
Much likes coach whistles, referee whistles are small metal or plastic pieces that can be worn like a necklace. Referees blow into their whistles to signal a stoppage or resumal of play, as well as indicate when an infraction has occurred. Virtually every referee needs to have a whistle in order to perform their duties effectively, as whistles represent a much more effective means of alerting a large audience than verbal communication.
Cones are normally orange, with a square or round base and cone-shaped upper body (can also be cylindrical). They are primarily used for practice purposes, as they can be scattered across the court or field of play to indicate spots that players should navigate towards. For example, one common drill in basketball involves positioning a series of cones in a straight line, and players are required to weave through each set of cones while dribbling the basketball to improve their ball handling skills. Cones may also be used to mark boundaries such as out of bounds.
Many different types of machines can be used to help athletes practice their skills. One such machine that is used to train for a variety of sports (baseball, football, soccer and volleyball) is a ball/pitch machine. After setting the machine to the desired output speed, several balls can be loaded into the device, which are then shot out towards a player standing anywhere from 10-60 feet away. The main advantage to machines is that they allow players to hone their craft when another person is not available to deliver the balls by hand. Football players use them to sharpen their catching skills, while baseball players use automated pitch machines to get some extra batting practice.
Weightlifting is an important form of training that athletes engage in to increase their strength. There are several different types of weights that can be used to activate the muscles. One example is free weights, which are hand-held weights that are used primarily for upper body exercises. Lifters often use a pair of dumbbells ranging all the way from 10 to 100 pounds for bicep curls and shoulder presses, among other exercises. Weights can also refer to machines assist with strength development. Popular examples include leg presses and benching platforms.
It is worth noting that lifting equipment can be very expensive when purchased on an individual basis, so gyms and team facilities are often the best places to train.
Elbow pads are worn in countless sports including basketball, football, volleyball, wrestling, and skateboarding. While they are not required pieces of safety equipment, they are preferred by many athletes as a means of protection against physical contact with the ground or other players. Most elbow pads are worn as a nylon sleeve with a soft, foam padded that covers the elbow. Simple, lightweight elbow pads cost as little as $10, while more compact heavy-duty options can run close to $30.
Gloves are worn in sports such as baseball, softball, football, and boxing to protect the hands from cuts, scrapes, bruises, and breakages. Football gloves tend to have small, padded inserts towards the fingertips to help prevent any damage that might occur when the hands collide with an opponent's helmet or shoulder pads. In addition, most football gloves are sticky near the palms to allow for greater success rates when trying to catch the ball. Baseball gloves on the other hand are leathery and much thinner, with their main function being to protect the batter from blistering while gripping the bat for an extended period of time.
Helmets are worn by football, lacrosse and baseball/softball players to protect the head and neck area from serious physical contact. Without helmets, players would likely suffer countless concussions due to being hit by other players or banging their heads against the turf after a tackle (baseball/softball helmets also protect batters in the event that a wild pitch strikes them in the head). Football helmets are circular, with soft padded foam on the inside that is protected by a polycarbonate outer shell. The material is preferred due to its shock absorption ability and resistance to even the most jarring physical impact. Helmets are simply a safety measure, however, as even the best helmet cannot guarantee protection against concussions with 100 percent certainty. Since football helmets usually cost over $300, most players opt to have theirs provided as part of the costs associated with joining a team.
Jockstraps are undergarments worn beneath an male athlete's pants to protect the pelvis and groin. They are warranted mostly in sports where serious risk of being hit below the belt by a ball exists. Jockstraps are similar in design to conventional briefs, with the one exception being that they contain a pocket for insertion of a hard plastic protective item called a cup.
Mouth guards are protective items with a hard plastic outer shell and gel-filled inner layer. Both stand-alone and strapped varieties exist. The beauty of mouth guards is that they can be purchased at virtually any sports goods store for about $20. They are essentially one-size-fits-all, fitted to match each individual athlete's unique bite simply by boiling the mouth guard, biting down, and allowing it to cool until it conforms to the desired shape. Mouth guards should be worn in any sport that involves physical contact, as they protect against head and jaw injuries by minimizing vibrations that occur when one row of teeth forcefully collides with the other.
Shin Pads, worn primarily by soccer and field hockey players, are rectangle-shaped guards with a padded inner layer and a hard plastic or carbon fiber shell. Velcro straps are used to secure them to the shin area of each leg in order to prevent injuries from being kicked in the lower leg. Shin guards come in a variety of different sizes, and choosing the right one depends entirely on personal preferences and comfort. A pair of shin pads generally costs between $10 and $30 and lasts for several years before replacements are needed.
Youth sports are organized activities and events that are played by children within the 7-18 age range. While youth sports can be played recreationally, they often involve coaches that oversee a series of organized practices and games. Both individual (i.e. gymnastics, skateboarding) and team sports (football, basketball) are included in this definition. Many participants engage in youth sports as a means of enjoyment or socialization, although youth sports are often viewed as a gateway to higher levels of competition.
Since youth sports include such a large age range, the equipment is unique in that it comes in all different sizes and styles. For instance, a 10-year-old football player that is less developed from a physical standpoint likely requires a smaller and more protective pair of shoulder pads than an 16-year-old high school athlete. Moreover, there is a large discrepancy between what is provided by a team or organization and what must be purchased individually when it comes to youth sports. Some clubs provide full sets of outfits and gear, whereas others account for only the bare essentials.
Generally speaking, there are two standards for picking the 'best' sports equipment. The first is safety. When deciding between two or more pieces of equipment, always gravitate towards the one that has the most safety features and protective padding. Another important factor is comfort. Most equipment is worn over the course of an entire season, so settling for uncomfortable or damage susceptible items is likely to have several negative consequences.
Finally, it is helpful to look for trusted brands that come highly recommended by athletes and coaches operating in the same space. Strong reputations are achieved only by producing products that consistently deliver and exceed expectations, so the very best equipment is highly regarded.
The overall cost of sports equipment depends on the sport that is being played. Some sports require more equipment than others, so they naturally cost more. The average athlete in America spends approximately 600 dollars per year on sports gear. As alluded to in previous sections, this cost can be greatly reduced by joining a team or club that provides a large majority of the required equipment.
The choice to buy new or used equipment depends on the timeline over which the athlete plans on playing. First-time youth athletes are better off saving money by purchasing used gear, since they will likely outgrow it over time. High school and collegiate athletes, however, can save money over the long-term by buying new equipment that will hopefully last through their four year tenure.