Buyer’s Guide – Tweens & Teens Sporting Goods

teensportsSports are meant to be fun.  As your child grows, he or she will have the opportunity to play organized sports through school or city leagues.  For many, it will be a tough decision to choose between multiple sports as many teens have never really played an organized sport before so they’re not sure what they’ll most enjoy – and for others it’s a difficult decision because their friends may not like to play the same sports.

Organized sports that will need a significant amount of equipment are listed below (dependant on the team/league, necessary items may vary slightly):

  • Hockey (Ice or Field): Hockey stick, ice/inline skates, helmet, elbow pads, hockey gloves, knee and shin protection, mouth guard
  • Football: Helmet, mouthpiece, shoulder pads, game pants, game jersey, game belt, practice pants, girdle, hip and tail pads, thigh and knee pads, cleats
  • Tennis: Racquet, tennis balls, tennis shoes
  • Lacrosse: Lacrosse stick, helmet, mouthguard, shoulder and elbow pads, gloves, sneakers, team uniform
  • Golf: Golf clubs (woods/irons), golf bag, golf balls, golf apparel/shoes
  • Rugby: Head, shoulder and collarbone protection, headguard (“scrum cap”), gumshield, fingerless gloves
  • Baseball/Softball: Bat (metal/wood dependant on league), balls, gloves, (catchers need face masks, helmet, chest protector, shin guards, and boys should use a cup)
  • Swimming and Diving/Water Polo: Swim goggles, competitive swim wear, swim cap
  • Cheerleading: Uniform, shoes, pompoms, megaphones

The second tier of organized sports require less in the way of necessary equipment, but are certainly still sports loved by many tweens and teens:

  • Cross Country/Track & Field: Running clothes, sneakers
  • Soccer: Uniform, sneakers
  • Volleyball: Uniform, volleyball shoes, kneepads
  • Basketball: Uniform, basketball shoes, mouthguard
  • Wrestling: Wrestling shoes, singlet, head protection

If organized sports aren’t your teen’s “thing”, there are other exciting options out there.  Your teen may already have an exercise routine or activity that he or she enjoys doing during free time, but when looking for something that will keep him or her busy, try recommending any of these activities:

  • Climbing: Indoor or outdoor rock climbing offers one of the best all-around workouts.
  • Hiking/Biking: Two great ways for your teen to learn more about nature while still getting up his or her heart rate.  Be sure, even if your teen is just going on a local trail that he or she always brings along at least one other person just in case something happens.
  • Water Activities: There are so many to try aside from swimming – your teen can try kayaking, rowing, canoeing, water skiing, wakeboarding or surfing to name a few.
  • Mental/Physical Training: Workouts such as yoga, Pilates and T’ai Chi can offer moves that are both relaxing and strenuous all at once.

Growth in sports participation has also contributed to and increase in sports-related injuries.  Physical injury is inherent in sports participation, however many of these injuries can be prevented through use of protective equipment.  The following lists some of the items available to make your teen’s sport or recreational play safer:

  • Helmet: Always purchase a helmet made for the sport your teen is playing.  Be sure the helmet meets the safety standard set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).  Helmets should fit snugly but comfortably on your teen’s head.
  • Eye Protection: Most protective eye gear is made from polycarbonate – this material has been tested especially for sports use.  If your teen wears glasses, you’ll probably need to purchase prescription polycarbonate goggles – he or she should not just wear glasses when on the court or the field.  All eye protection should fit securely and have cushions above the eyebrows and over the nose.
  • Mouth Guards: These should be used to protect your teens mouth, teeth and tongue.  Guards can either be fitted for your teen’s mouth by a dentist or purchased at a local sports store or online
  • Wrist, Knee and Elbow Guards: These guards can prevent arm and wrist fractures as well as shield knees from cuts and breaks.
  • Pads: Many contact sports require the use of pads – shin, knee, elbow, wrist, chest, shoulder, hip and thigh pads are generally what is available.  Check with your teen’s coach or doctor to determine what kinds of pads are needed for your teen’s selected sport.
  • Protective Cup: Guys who play contact sports should use a cup.  For non-contact sports, guys can wear an athletic supporter.

In addition to the standard gear and safety equipment required, there are many other types of training equipment for each sport that can help encourage your teen’s progress.  While not required, these training aides can help your teen excel in his or her sport and provide more opportunity to practice at home.
Bottom line, always remember that sports, either organized or solo, should be a fun and enriching experience for your teen.