Soccer Equipment History

In the earliest days of soccer, it seems that all a team needed was a ball to kick around and shoes that protected. That's changed. Soccer equipment today includes much more: shin guards, goalie equipment, soccer referee equipment, football kit bag, and soccer training equipment, such as flags, cones, agility ladders, and slalom poles. All this equipment used for soccer can be found at discount prices at Epic Sports.

The Ball

Soccer equipment begins with the ball. The football dates to ancient times. Sculls, pig's bladder, and round objects made from animal skins all served to be kicked in competitive, often violent and even ritualistic ways. Pagan customs prompted humans to smack a ball around an open field for the promise of a bountiful harvest, for the ball symbolized the sun.

In the nineteenth century, soccer balls began to be manufactured out of rubber. Charles Goodyear created the first vulcanized rubber soccer ball in 1855. Until then, players had to tolerate inconsistencies and unpredictability of a ball made from pig's bladder. In 1862, H.J. Lindon created the first inflatable rubber bladder, making the ball easier to kick and control without destroying its shape. The English Football Association gave to the ball an official design complete with shape, measurements, and materials from which to make the ball. The first official soccer ball served the first match between US's Oneida Football Club, and a team from the Boston Latin and English schools. The ball stands today on the Boston Common to commemorate that game.

Size matters when it comes to soccer balls. Shoppers of youth soccer equipment should take this into consideration: generally players aged 12 and over use size 5, children ages eight to 12 use size 4, and younger ones will need size 3. Regulation balls may be more expensive than others. If it's a ball that meets official regulation rules, on it you will find a stamp that indicates FIFA approval, or shows its official size and weight. Beginners might prefer a softer ball, more experienced players a harder one.

Continual advances in soccer equipment technology have made soccer balls lighter, and better-performing.

Shoes

Finding the right shoe is an important part of completing your soccer equipment package. In a few hundred years soccer footwear has gone from a pair of heavy leather boots made by Cornelius Johnson in 1525 and famously worn by King Henry VIII, to high-performing lightweight shoes specially designed for kicking, lifting, and manipulating the ball. Having undergone much change over the centuries, the soccer shoe's first traceable history began in the 1800s with the steel-toed work boot. Metal tacks were pounded into the soles for traction. The Football Association's 1863 ruling prohibited only the use of "projecting nails, iron plates," or plastic made from tree rosin ("gutta percha") projecting out of the soles or sides of boots. Eventually, the slipper shoe called "soccus" replaced the heavy steel-toed boot, and for once player's feet began to look the same. But much progress was on the horizon for the soccer shoe, as it sought to become more resilient, lightweight, and less prone to absorbing moisture. And that would be the work of the next century. To this day, science and technology have combined to create superior, high performing soccer shoes.

A quick tip about finding the right soccer shoe: unless it's well-constructed, injuries can occur so best to shop around for quality. Take a pair of socks with you. Soccer shoes should "fit like a glove", that is, snugly, because your feet may get blisters if not. Toes should hug the front of the shoe when standing. Advanced players should use leather cleats; beginning and intermediate players will do fine with cleats made from synthetic materials.

A word about indoor soccer shoes: to prevent injury, it's best to buy a pair of flat soled shoes, although many outdoor soccer shoes have molded cleats and can be used indoors.

Shin Guards

This is a necessity for completing your soccer equipment package. We've all banged our shins at some time. It's surprisingly painful! Safety soccer equipment such as shin guards became more prominent after soccer rules (Laws of the Game - 1863) became a permanent fixture to protect against the brutal forces that soccer was famous for. Shin guards protect the shin from injury during the game. Today a wide range of choices are available, so knowing what you or your youngster needs is essential. Different brands feature different styles and advantages. Adidas is known as a leader in design and protection, but other names, such as Umbro, are known for comfort, and many people like Estero. From novice to expert, shin guards are an important piece of safety soccer equipment.

To get the best fit, make sure the shin guard is appropriate for the age of the wearer. A shin guard should fit snugly around the ankle and underneath the knee, and try them on with socks designed to hold the pad in place. It's also a good idea to try them on with cleats or soccer shoes, and wear them to a few practices to make sure they'll hold up well during a game. The pan should allow free range of motion while arming the shin. When you're shopping for a shin guard, know that they're sized according to the length of the shin. Measuring the length of the shin from an inch above the ankle to an inch just below the kneecap should provide the correct size. Something else to keep in mind about proper fit is to make sure the ankle cup fits snugly around the ankle.

Shin guards require proper care, and are best maintained by being hand-washed. But they are machine-washable, and make sure to fasten straps before washing. A tip: apply talc before wearing them, to absorb sweat. And if a shin guard cracks, replace it immediately to prevent injury.

Socks

The main job of socks is to support the shin guards. Staying in place is the most important element of any good-fitting sock. They should neither slip down, nor impede circulation. You generally get what you pair for, so buy the best pair your budget can afford.

Goalkeeper Equipment

You may not have thought about how important the goalkeeper is. Without the goalkeeper, there would be no points scored in the game. Some people say the goalkeeper is the reason soccer was invented. So soccer goalie equipment is of the utmost importance, and includes gloves, shirts, shorts, pants, and goalkeeper kit.

Gloves

Padded gloves prevent injury resulting from catching the ball. It's best to choose a pair that is durable and flexible. Today's gloves are designed a little stiff for added protection to the fingers. Parents of children in the goalkeeper position should be looking for a glove that offers maximum protection from finger injury. And as the game is often played in wet conditions, look for a durable pair of protective, water-resistant gloves.

Goalkeeper gloves should be comfortable, good-fitting, and offer great grip.

Goalkeeper Uniforms

Shirt

You might even say the goalkeeper is the distinguished member of the team. His or her shirt is going to look different from that of teammates. Usually it's a different color, and is long-sleeved to prevent injury.

Shorts

Goalkeeper shorts are generally longer and padded compared to those of teammates in order to prevent injury. Often Goalkeepers wear long, padded pants.

Training Equipment

Soccer training equipment for the serious team is a must. Training equipment can include the soccer ball machine, corner flags, cones, hurdles, balls, and nets designed to improve speed and agility.

Corner flags come in many choices and styles, such as stakes, spring loaded bases, hollow plastic bases, or a weighted base for fields that cannot take stakes. Know your team's need. They all have one thing in common: their height is 5 feet, 60 inches, or 1.42 meters. Whichever the case for your team, it's important that corner flags are well-maintained. And best to find a style that will meet all weather and field conditions.

Marker Cones

Marker cones are important as they designate outlying areas of the field.

Other recommended items of training equipment can include spiked pole bases, and passing arcs, which improve passing techniques, and agility ladders, and slalom poles to improve a player's flexibility and speed.

Football Kit Bag

Soccer equipment includes the football kit bag. They're inexpensive, and handy for organizing and toting soccer equipment. So it is a must for professional teams. Nike offers a popular design at a reasonable price.

Referee Equipment

What would a soccer game be without the referee? There was a time when soccer was played without a referee, or rules for that matter, other than a set of common rules teams would agree on. The referee was added to the game to make sure rules and order are followed. A referee's main duty is to enforce the Laws of the Game. Soccer referee equipment includes a whistle, watch, and of course a uniform.

The Whistle

Before the whistle, referees waved a handkerchief in the air to communicate with players. It wasn't until the 1870s with the production of the pea whistle by the ACME Whistle Company that soccer referees began to signal players using a high-pitched device. It is thought that the first whistle was used in a match between Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Norfolk, in 1878.

And only recently added to the Laws of the Game, whistles today are used to signal the start, stop, or delay of play. That, and verbal and body communication, are important tools of any good soccer referee.

The Uniform

During soccer's earliest days, a person donning black and white from head to heal would have most likely been a referee, simply known as "man in black". Prior to mid-20th century, the referee often wore a black blazer, or an otherwise bright or eye-catching color, like red, that distinguished him from his team. The referee uniform has changed little. Today, refs and their assistants sport a uniform consisting simply of jersey, socks and shorts. FIFA allows jerseys to come in five colors: black, yellow, red, green and blue. Besides the jersey, refs in most cases must wear black shorts, black socks, with black shoes.

Indoor Soccer Equipment

Indoor and outdoor soccer equipment share similarities. The main difference is that indoor soccer is played in an enclosed space, as opposed to a field. Among other differences, such as goals and boundaries, generally indoor soccer is faster-paced, has fewer players, and can be more exciting to watch. Indoor soccer generally uses five to six players, while the outdoor uses about 11 players per team, depending on the league. As for the indoor arena; it's smaller, about 200 feet long by 85 feet wide, whereas the size of the outdoor field varies but can be no larger than 120 meters (394 feet) long by 90 (295 feet) meters wide, as allowed by the U.S. Soccer Federation.



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