We’ve all been there. It’s only half an hour until team warm-ups and you’re getting your young athletes to rush and buckle up and get on your way so that nobody loses playing time for being late.
The field is only twenty minutes away, but half-way there one of your kids realizes they’ve forgotten their: socks, uniform, shin guards, cleats, etc.
Before flipping a wild U-turn or cursing the soccer gods, take a breath and remember Mom or Dad: you can’t take 100% responsibility for everything.
One of the reasons we encourage and support kids playing team sports is the skills and discipline that they learn on the field, and the expectation that those crucial responsibility and discipline skills will translate off the field as well.
With that being said, one of the easiest ways to avoid this all too common mishap is to help your child establish a game bag routine. What’s a “game bag routine” in the simplest sense of understanding?
A game bag routine is a commitment to having a definitive list of “have to haves” for game-day and ensuring they’re packed and ready to go–the night before.
Not only will helping your child to structure this routine provide them with the anxiety-relief that comes with being prepared, it will also soon become second nature to them to pack smart: whether it’s game-day, vacation, or leaving for that first exciting-I-promised-I-Wasn’t-Going-to-Cry semester of College.
So where do we start? The bag of course!
The Rocky-esque gym duffel bag of the 80’s and 90’s is long past its prime. Look at any soccer sideline these days and the stereotypical over the shoulder duffel is a fossil, and the new ideal of transporting your gear is specially designed soccer backpacks.
Some of the benefits of using a soccer backpack is having a dedicated soccer ball pocket for practice, as well as outer side pockets for a water bottle, like the Nike Club Team Swoosh Backpack. Another good feature to look for in a soccer backpack is a dedicated cleat pocket. This will help to ensure that well-used cleats don’t make your child’s jersey dirty before kick-off even happens, and also helps keep their other gear from getting muddy when coming home after playing in wet conditions.
Lists, Lists, Lists
Sit down with your athlete and ask them to write out a list of what they need in their game-day bag. While it may seem superfluous, writing out a list serves two purposes: it manifests the mental into a physical object that can be checked off, and it helps to focus your child on only what they’ll need. How many times have their game socks been missing-in-action, but somehow they still managed to bring their phone charger to the field?
Start with the essentials like uniform jersey and shorts, socks, cleats, and shinguards, and then push for the more specific items like specialized protective gear, like Storelli turf burn sliders, Full90 Premier performance headguards. Some athletes love having a pair of slides or flip-flops to change into when the game is over. Some need their headphones for the car-ride or warm-ups.
The Night Before
It’s crucial that your bag packing is done at least the night before, when your athlete has time to methodically go through their list and pack all their items in a well organized manner. Creating a list that morning half-asleep and rushing around before school is certain disaster, particularly if an item they need (Surprise!) isn’t clean.
Making sure your athlete gives themselves time to ensure that nothing is forgotten or left behind or nothing needs emergency washed helps to reduce any performance anxiety and encourages good time management skills.
This simply routine, when practiced, will ensure that you’re never left off the field or late for another game or practice due to not having everything you need to compete.
Young athletes spend hours each week dedicated to training something as easy as having your bag packed shouldn’t get in the way. You don’t have to do it for them Mom and Dad, but you can help show them the best way it should be done.
What’s in your game bag? What’s one piece of gear that you need on game day? Let us know in the comments!