You don’t need much kit to play football, especially if you just want to have a kick about in the park or garden. Just the basics of a ball, trainers (or other shoes which you can run in) and a pop-up goal or ‘jumpers for goalposts’ will do. And a few friends of course. But if you’re wanting to take it a bit more seriously, you’ll need to look the part on the pitch. If you want to join a local team, you’ll need:
- A football: there are 3 main sizes of football, size 1, 2 and 3. Size 3 is generally the smallest and is used for players under 8 years old. Its circumference is 23-24 inches. Size 4 is usually used for players 8 to 12 years old. It has a 25 to 26 inch circumference. And size 5 is the standard sized ball (27 - 28 inches) and is usually used for players aged 12 and over (including adults).
- Kit: made up of a shirt (short or long sleeved) and shorts. Players on the same team wear the same coloured strip, sometimes with a number and name on the back of the shirt. You will also usually have matching socks. The goalkeeper will wear a uniquely coloured shirt so they stand out to other players and referees.
- Equipement/extras: in addition to the teamwear, you will also need a pair of boots (usually with moulded studs) and shin pads for protection. Goalkeepers will need gloves too.
When choosing your football boots, make sure they are suitable for the type of surface you’ll be playing on:
- Firm Ground or ‘Moulded’ boots are by far the most popular type. They’re designed for use on natural grass pitches where the grass is kept short. Ideally for use when the pitch is dry, they can handle slightly damp pitches too. Most modern firm ground football boots are equally at home on 3G & 4G pitches; just be prepared to remove a small mountain's worth of black rubber from your insoles afterwards. Don't use them on old-school, sand based astroturf pitches. Also don't wear them for indoor football either as they’ll damage the flooring and they could cause injury.
- Soft Ground boots are good for a rainy match day when the ground is muddy, to give you maximum grip and traction. They’re worn by most players during the winter months. The traditional studs are usually metal, though other materials can be used. Most of the time they are replaceable on soft ground boots, so your boots could last much longer. Just don’t use them on a bouncy firm pitch or on a 3G pitch as this could lead to injury. Muddy grassy pitches only!
- Artificial Ground/MG boots are becoming more popular as the number of 3G and 4G artificial pitches increases. They have more studs than Firm Ground soles and are a lot stiffer to cope with the harshness of artificial grass. At first glance the studs will look just like the ones you'd find on a firm ground boot, however artificial ground boots tend to have the studs hollowed out. This not only keeps them lightweight, but it's how they absorb the harsh impact that comes from running on a 3G surface. These boots can be worn on grass pitches if the surface is dry.
- Astroturf boots are used on the older style artificial pitches, which are typically water or sand-based. These surfaces have very short turf meaning less penetration, which makes the rubber based sole on an astroturf trainer the perfect choice. They can also be used on 3G pitches too, though they don't offer as much grip as artificial ground boots. Don't wear them on indoor pitches as the floor tends to get quite slippery and these shoes won’t give you the grip you need.
- Indoor boots are often used for small sided games, such as 5-a-side or futsal. Indoor pitches traditionally have hard wooden or parquet floors, so indoor soles need to be made of a non-marking rubber. But only wear them indoors as you’ll slide everywhere on grass, and you’ll ruin them on 3G or turf.
Other useful pieces of kit are a bag to keep everything together, a water bottle so you can stay properly hydrated, and a football pump. It’s also important to stay warm on and off the field, so warm base layers, a coat and a tracksuit are also a good idea. And don’t forget those high-energy snacks for a little boost.