What Should My Child Wear to Soccer Practice?

Over the years of coaching players of all ages, I’ve seen a huge spectrum of soccer practice attire. There are always some kids that show up in clothing that’s not appropriate, like jeans, skirts, sandals, etc. 

As an experienced player, it’s pretty clear what you should wear to practice, but when kids are just starting out their families do not always know what they need.  What should kids wear to soccer practice?

We’ll walk through the basics including:

  • Soccer practice clothing for different ages and weather conditions
  • When kids need cleats
  • What to wear under a uniform

Read on to find out what exactly you should send your child to training with to set them up for success!

youth soccer team doing agility

What Should I Wear to Soccer Practice?

You can wear what you find comfortable to soccer practice, but there are a few basics that tend to work best. Of course, female players may require some additional clothing that men may not. 

Here’s a list of the top general must-have soccer gear and clothing to wear to soccer practice:

  • Sports bra
  • Spandex for under your shorts
  • Soccer shorts
  • An appropriate tank top or t-shirt (sweat-wicking ideally)
  • Socks- soccer socks if your team requires shin guards 
  • Soccer cleats

The list above is for generally warm weather. As we all know, soccer rarely takes place in ideal weather. Here are some additional pieces to have for when it is colder;

Cold weather soccer apparel

  • A long-sleeve training top
  • A long-sleeve undershirt to layer
  • An athletic jacket or sweatshirt
  • Soccer pants
  • Sports tights
  • A stadium coat
  • Wool sports socks 
  • Gloves
  • Fleece headband to cover ears
  • Running wrap/sports scarf 

Take a look at what the USWNT wears for their warm vs cold training sessions to see these items in action!

Additionally, in Alex Morgan’s (USWNT forward) training day video, you can see her wearing many of the items above 

What Kind of Shorts Do You Wear for Soccer?

For soccer activity, you should wear athletic shorts. If you are just starting out or are only playing recreationally, then you may find it is comfortable and suitable enough to wear:

  • Running shorts
  • Basketball shorts
  • General athletic shorts

However, you will notice that serious soccer players wear soccer shorts. Yes, there are shorts specifically made for the sport!

Here’s a quick comparison of soccer shorts and basketball shorts to illustrate the difference:

Category Soccer ShortsBasketball Shorts
Lengthabout 7 inches or less11 inches
MaterialLightweight, breathable polyesterpolyester or blend, often mesh
Liningmay include underwear liningoften double-lined
BrandsAdidas, Nike, Under Armour, Diadora, Amazon EssentialsNike, Jordan, Adidas, Under Armour, Amazon Essentials

Can You Wear Sweatpants to Soccer Practice?

When it’s cold out, you’ll likely need more than just shorts during practice (at least during warmup). Many people already own sweatpants and want to know if you can wear them during soccer. 

The short answer is that you might be able to, but it is not the ideal solution. You should NOT wear sweatpants that are loose at the bottom. They are likely to get caught on their own cleats or stepped on by other players. 

Jogger-style sweatpants (with a fitted ankle) may be a doable option. They don’t pose as much of a tripping risk. However, cotton sweatpants are not the ideal material because they hold onto moisture. If it’s wet outside, you will quickly find them to be soaked and heavy. 

One better alternative is soccer pants. Soccer pants are designed for the sport. They are lightweight and moisture-wicking. They also are more fitted and won’t get caught or stepped on. 

The other ideal option is sports tights. You can wear them under shorts for added warmth. Again, the tight fit ensures they don’t pose a safety risk. Furthermore, many sports tights come in moisture-resistant and moisture-wicking materials. 

Soccer jersey

What Do Soccer Players Wear Under Their Uniforms?

Soccer players don’t just play games with ONLY their uniforms on. They wear a variety of things underneath their uniforms that may include:

  • A sports bra
  • A heart rate monitor
  • Spandex and/or sports underwear
  • An undershirt (t-shirt or tank top)
  • A long-sleeve shirt if cold
  • Wraps or sleeves for lingering injuries
Group of school children playing training game with young coach. Kids playing and kicking soccer balls on grass pitch

What Should Kids Wear to Soccer Practice?

Far too often, kids show up to soccer practice in clothes that aren’t suitable for the sport. It’s important to make sure kids wear clothes that are comfortable and safe. 

Here’s what kids should wear to soccer practice:

  • Athletic shorts, leggings, or pants
  • A comfortable t-shirt or long-sleeve shirt
  • Soccer socks
  • Shin guards
  • Cleats or tennis shoes (depends on age and situation)

Of course, older kids may also want or need to wear a sports bra under their shirt and spandex under their shorts. You may also be able to find clothing items with built-in undershorts or sports bras for younger kids. 

Cassius Dwyer (Sydney Leroux and Dom Dwyer’s firstborn) has really got the soccer practice attire down! It might help that both of his parents play professionally, but check out his soccer training outfits;

What Should a Toddler Wear to Soccer Practice?

Toddlers should essentially wear similar things to training as older kids. Keep in mind that you do not need to buy the highest-end brand-name soccer gear for young kids and that you can often find gently-used options. 

When players are just starting out as toddlers, things like fitted sweatpants instead of soccer pants are okay. It’s just about making sure they are comfortable and warm (or cool) enough to participate in practice. 

toddler playing with soccer ball

Do 3-year-olds Need Soccer Cleats?

Cleats are a key piece of soccer equipment for kids. But do toddlers really need them?

Kids that young do not NEED soccer cleats, even on grass. They are not exerting enough speed or power to really risk dangerous falls and slips. 

It also may not make sense to invest in cleats for kids that young. They could be just trying it out for the first time, and their feet grow fast. 

Here’s what one of the parents on a DIS board about cleats for young kids has to say:

Around here at that age soccer cleats are not even required. Regular tennis shoes will do. If they are required I would do the cheap ones definitely at that age.

Anonymous Parent via DIS boards

However, if you can access free or inexpensive hand-me-down/on-sale cleats, then it may be worth getting them. They do offer a better grip on grass and can help your child get used to wearing them. 

soccer shin guards slip in

Do Shin Guards Go Over or Under Socks?

Families that are new to the sport often ask if shin guards go over or under socks. 

Shinguards are meant to protect the shin from contact. They absorb a lot of force, with studies finding that some of the best shinguards only allow up to 11% of the force to get through. This means that shinguards can make the difference between a broken bone and just a bruise, which is why they are so important for kids to wear to training. 

When it comes to dressing your child for soccer, shinguards should go under soccer socks. This is the reason why soccer socks are so long. They are made to cover the shinguards. 

That being said, wearing shinguards at all is the most important thing for kids. Sometimes kids are stubborn or all of the long soccer socks are dirty. In those cases, it’s better to wear the shinguards over socks than to not wear them at all!

Things Children Should Not Wear to Soccer

There are a few common no-nos that kids often show up to practice with. Here are a few things to NOT send your kid to soccer in:

  • Open-toed shoes
  • Jewelry of any kind
  • Hair clips or other hard accessories
  • Very tight clothing (aside from athletic leggings)
  • Jeans
  • Clothes with pins, beads, or anything sharp
  • Hair down and in their face
  • Regular glasses (opt for sports glasses/goggles or contacts)

What Kids Should Bring to Soccer

Aside from proper soccer attire, kids should also bring a few key things to training. This makes sure your child is well-prepared and can focus on the spot. It also makes the coach’s job much easier. 

Here are some things your child should bring to training:

  • A pumped-up soccer ball that’s the correct size for their age
  • A full water bottle 
  • Soccer shoes (ideally cleats)
  • Shin guards
  • Layers, gloves, hat, etc. to add if cold
  • A soccer bag to hold extra items
  • A gallon ziploc bag for dirty or wet items
  • A hair tie for long hair 
  • Any necessary medication (inhaler, epi-pen, etc)
  • A laminated emergency contact card 

What Do Soccer Players Wear to School?

For many kids, soccer training is after school. Once you enter middle school and high school, soccer practice could be immediately after school. There are many times when kids will not go home between school and training. 

So, what do soccer players wear to school?

You may not be able to spot a soccer player during school. They can wear anything they want during school and will dress to their personal style. Even if kids do not go home after school, they will likely be able to change in the locker room or bathroom. 

That being said, some players still wear some soccer gear casually. You may see soccer players wear the following items to school:

  • Indoor soccer shoes worn as daily shoes
  • Gameday jersey
  • Soccer pants
  • A team jacket or sweatshirt
  • A ponytail hairstyle 
  • T-shirts from practice, tournaments, tryouts, etc 

What Should I Wear to Soccer Tryouts?

Soccer may have a different feel and intensity than typical practice, but the gear you need is quite similar. You need all of the same clothing and equipment that you need for practice, especially shinguards and cleats. 

One difference to note is that teams may provide you with a tryout t-shirt or ask you to wear/bring a specific color to tryouts. Be sure to check the tryout page or inquire with the team about what shirt to wear to tryouts. 

Youth Soccer Players Sitting on a Bench

Important Apparel For Soccer

You should send your child to soccer with clothing that is suited for athletic movement and the weather. The details will vary based on the child’s age, level of competition, gender, and more.

In general, the basics are soccer shorts, a sports shirt, shin guards (under soccer socks), and cleats. Always make sure they have multiple layers and options. Additionally, they need things like a full water bottle and personal medication. 

As kids get older, they’re often able to articulate what they need for soccer, so be sure to listen with an open mind as they express this. 

Ultimately, you want to dress your child so that they can move freely and be comfortable and safe while participating in the sport!

Essential Equipment You Need

20 Pieces of Gear Soccer Players and Coaches Need For Soccer - With Pictures

Soccer Products FAQ

Can I Use Running Shoes for Soccer? 

You can play soccer in running shoes, but you won’t have the best performance unless you wear cleats or soccer boots.

Why are soccer balls black and white?

Soccer balls are traditionally black and white because when soccer was first shown on TV it was in black and white, so the mix of black and white on the balls helped viewers see the ball easier. 

How hard and what pressure should a soccer ball be?

The FIFA regulations say that the soccer balls should have a pressure between 8.81757 psi (0.6 atm) and 16.1655 psi (1.1 atm). If you’re playing soccer with friends, then opt for a pressure amount from the lower range.

What is the size of goals in soccer?

5-A-Side has dimensions that are 12-ft wide by 6-ft high. Such soccer goals are for under-7 and under-8 soccer games
7-A-Side has dimensions that are 12-ft wide by 6-ft high again. Such soccer goals are for under-9 and under-10 soccer games
9-A-Side has dimensions that are 16-ft wide by 7-ft high. Such soccer goals are for under-11 and under-12 soccer game
11-A-Side or full-size soccer goal has dimensions that are 24-ft wide by 8-ft high for the under-15 and over. Whereas, for the under-13 and under-14, it is 21 ft wide by 7-ft high

What is the soccer ball size and weight for each age group?

Size 1 - 3 years or under - 18 to 20 inches - 195 to 205 grams
Size 2 - 3 to 5 years - 20 to 22 inches - U4 - 250 to 280 grams
Size 3 - 5 to 8 years - 23 to 24 inches - U5 to U8 - 300 to 320 grams
Size 4 - 8 to 12 years - 25 to 26 inches - U8 to U12 - 350 to 390 grams
Size 5 - More than 12 years - 27 to 28 inches - U12 to Pro - 410 to 450 grams

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