If you’re hoping to find something for your little kid’s recreational kick about, you’re probably not going to find that gift idea on this list. These ideas are for the more serious soccer player who wants to improve performance, take advantage of the best gear, and, of course, have some fun. I can vouch for each of these as great gifts, as I have either bought them after extensive personal research, was gifted them, or have been eyeing them for some time.
Most of the items on this list have helped me become a stronger player, and I’m confident the soccer player in your life will appreciate them too.
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If you were to make a survey of the biggest struggles soccer players who want to train have, finding a good, solid wall to practice on would be right at the top. Depending on where you live, you might not have something usable accessible to you—or the noise will make your neighbors wild with fury. This wall from Morri Sports has a special feature that, when flipped, the angle of the wall shoots the ball up in the air, which is great for practicing ball control. While this rebound wall is $245 ($255 market price), you can find similar products for much cheaper—look for the jagged leg stands that stick to the grass for better friction.
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There are two types of soccer players: those who love grip socks and those who haven’t tried them yet. Once you use them, you don’t know how you used to play without them. They allow better stability when wearing your cleats or shoes, so you can shift your weight, stop, or accelerate much better, especially if you struggle finding the perfect fitting cleats (a very common problem among players). The good thing about this item is how affordable they are: Most brands are going to perform well, but I have found the Gain the Edge grip socks to be of great quality and price.
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Serious soccer players know the difference between a quality ball and a $30 ball. From the grip on your foot and weight on the ball, to how it glides in air, no one does it better than the top tier Select balls. That is why regulated leagues and official competition worldwide have adopted the ball as the standard. The Select Brilliant Super is the standard for playing in real grass, while the Select Numero 10 is designed for turf or artificial grass, but will also do fine in real grass.
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Wearing shin guards is one of those things you just hate—until someone kicks you in the shin so hard that you wonder why you didn’t take up basketball as a kid instead. The problem with most shin guards is that they’re so bulky and uncomfortable to wear that most players try to avoid them; luckily, there are shin guards now that are as comfortable as wearing socks and still give you plenty of protection. Flaxta is a great option that gives you versatility and great ventilation, while the G-Form brand is more affordable and has options to include the sleeve and shin guard together.
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Having strong hamstrings is important for a soccer player’s for endurance, sprint speed, and avoiding injury. When I started working out my hamstrings with a curl strap, I immediately noticed a big difference in my performances. I use the type that needs to be slid behind a door because I find those more affordable than a stand-alone gadget, and it performs just as well. You can find them on Amazon for about $20-$40. (Personally, I use the NordStick.) Keep in mind that you will need something thick like a yoga mat or towel to place under your knees to avoid knee pain.
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There’s arguably no funner way to improve as a player than playing soccer tennis. All you need is a friend and a net. But if you aren’t lucky enough to live around a tennis court, there are products that make it possible for you to play anywhere. If you want more flexibility on your game, badminton nets will be better because they allow you to adjust the height of the net up and down. But if you are limited on space—maybe you have a small backyard—the Futpong net is all you need.
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When you need to recover faster for matches, after good nutrition and sleep, a massage gun could be a useful tool—with some caveats. Here’s what we’ve said about them before:
In the quest for deeper and more intensely felt massages, many athletes have settled upon the massage gun as a tool to aid recovery. But is a percussive massager any better than other forms of self-massage, like foam rolling? And how does it feel to use one?
First, a primer on the evidence behind sports massage: Almost everybody agrees that if a massage makes you feel better, you should feel free to get one. But if you’re wondering whether massages do anything specific physiologically that is good for your body, there’s no compelling evidence suggesting that is so. We’re pretty sure they’re not “flushing lactic acid” from your muscles (lactic acid doesn’t cause that next-day soreness, anyway), but some studies do find that massage can help increase flexibility, and some people report they reduce soreness.
If you think the athlete in your life would appreciate a massage gun, there are many to choose from—but I found the Homemedics to be a great sweet spot between quality and price for $60.
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While the most common elastic balls for training are the ones that attach to the hip, I’ve found them to be uncomfortable and bothersome. The Quickplay Replay Soccer Training Ball stays on the ground and gives you freedom to roam the field and not be attached to the ball. This makes it easier to practice many different drills without stumbling over the string (and making a fool of yourself).
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For those who want to know every detail of their performance and how they are doing on the field from distance, sprints, heart rate, and positioning of the field, there are performance trackers that can measure all those data points and more. There are different types, like the StatsSports that is worn like a sports bra, and others like the Playmaker that attach to the cleat. Both mostly record the same important information, so it comes down to preference, but either would make for a good gift.
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