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Soccer

  • Soccer balls have come a long way since the days of Pele and Chinaglia. You won't find the traditional black and white hexagonal patterns much anymore, as equipment companies are now looking to define their balls with exclusive visuals and technologies meant for superior function. But one thing remains consistent; all you need to play the game is a ball. No matter if you're on a league team or if you're playing three a side, a soccer ball is the only necessity to getting outside and having fun. Yet, with all of the new developments in manufacturing, there are now a wide variety of materials and various methods of construction used in every ball, and it can get confusing trying to make sense of all the variables that exist. It's not as simple as just walking into your local sporting goods store and grabbing one off the shelf these days. But fear not; no matter what the age and skill level of the players or intended area of use, there is an option that will fit your needs.This list reflects five of the best soccer balls on the market right now, based upon a variety of specific criteria. First, the construction of these ball is important, with elements such as the number of panels that have been used to create each ball (18, 26, and 32 are the most common) playing a vital role in how they perform. Touch is a big part of deciding which ball is the most dynamic on the field and this brings us to two other points of criteria, the balls outer material and bladder. These best soccer balls are made of synthetic leather and contain latex bladders. Synthetic leather offers the best bounce and cuts down on water absorption, while latex is preferred because of the way it plays and responds on the field. Other bladders such as butyl are often too hard once they're inflated, adversely affecting both touch and response. Finally, the graphics along the exterior of these selections may seem like simple aesthetics placed there for panache, but major companies are now using the bold and colorful visuals to improve the game for the players by way of greater visibility. If these ball are easier to see, it's easier to engage them to make the game faster and more exciting as the scoring increases. Finally, these balls have each been certified and approved by the governing bodies of FIFA and/or NFHS.
    September 01, 2015
  • No one wants to wear them, but shin guards are a mandatory part of the game of soccer; they're designed to safeguard your legs from aggressive defenders looking to take the ball from you. With all of those feet wildly kicking and tackling, you're going to need a pair of shin guards that protect unconditionally, and that includes not having to sacrifice comfort to do so. But there's no getting around the fact that a hard protective shell braced to your tibia is not going to be the most pleasant feel in the world, even if a shattered bone feels exponentially worse.Equipment manufacturers have been wrestling with this conundrum for as long as the shin guard has been required by regulation, and players have been looking for a happy medium between performance and relief. The use of lighter materials, form-fitting sleeves, and contoured shell designs have all been considered in the quest to develop that "perfect" shin guard and there are so many options on the market that it's hard to say if that goal has truly been achieved.Some players like wearing their guard inside a sleeve, while others will just slip their guard into their sock and be done with it. There are as many options for shin guards as there are positions on the team, so check out these five choices first and see if they are the right fit. Each of these high-quality shields are built out of carbon fiber and high-impact plastic to protect the shin effectively. Comfort is also a major part of choosing the right shin guard and these all deliver thanks to ergonomic shaping, foam or gel cushioned padding, lightweight materials, and additional elements like sock inserts to keep them in place during the game. Each of these important components went into the selection of these shin guards, so you know you're getting the best protection available today.
    August 20, 2015
  • When all else fails, there's the goalie who is the last remaining member of the team who can prevent the opposition from putting the ball in the net. Grace under pressure, the leader of the defense who must also inspire confidence when things look bleak. You have one prime directive: stop the ball.Luckily, you can use your hands while everyone else on the field cannot so a pair of goalie gloves is probably the most important piece of gear the position requires. That means you want them to fit right, function well, and protect your hands at all costs.The leading soccer gear manufacturers have built their gloves with these necessities in mind and with so many brands out there, one of them is bound to be the right pair for you. Keep in mind you will want to try on a number of different pairs before deciding. The gloves should be the right size, first and foremost. Your fingers need to be able to move and spread so that you can catch the ball effectively. Some gloves are cut differently than others, offering a snug or loose fit at the palms and fingers. A poor fitting glove will not perform well during the game and the result could be a check in the loss column for your team. So when you're ready to slip on your goalie gloves, check out these five brands first. You just may find what you're looking for among these picks, each one chosen along specific criteria.To start with, the gloves must be comfortable and each of these picks provides absolute comfort for the hands in both warm and cool weather with materials that are breathable and allow good air flow to battle wetness from sweat. Ergonomic construction helps the gloves fit better on each hand for a snug fit so that they feel more like a second skin than a bulky glove. The quality and durability of the materials that are used in the construction of the glove, both inside and along the exterior, are crucial for shock absorption from the ball hitting the hand as well as making sure the glove is tear-resistant in the heat of action.Grip and palm feel are also important and went into the consideration of each pick we selected so goalies are able to feel the ball more accurately which means they can stop it more effectively. Most importantly, these picks provide strong finger and backhand protection to keep fingers from getting hyper-extended and hands properly guarded when punching the ball away from the goal. All of these elements combined make up the ideal pick for a spot on our list. Check out the five gloves we've selected below and see if any of them are right for you.
    August 18, 2015
  • Buying a pair of soccer cleats is another one of those decisions we face when it comes to finding a happy medium between aesthetic, function, and price. Like almost any other high-performance sporting attire, purchasing a pair of cleats is going to cost you a substantial amount of money. Therefore, you need to go into this purchase armed with all of the pertinent information needed for your gear to perform its best and do so for a long period of time. Things like sizing, outsoles, and upper material can all factor into your decision on which shoe is the best for you. It can't be stressed enough that you will need to actually try your shoes on, walk in them, kick in them, feel how they move, and how they hug your foot. The type of shoe one player likes won't necessarily be the one you will want, so do your homework before you drop that hard-earned cash. Feel free to refer to our soccer cleat buyer’s guide below for all of the essentials you should keep in mind when it's time to buy.
    June 23, 2015