The Right Soccer Gear for Your Position
May 23, 2023
Not every style or fit of soccer gear applies to every member of the team. Based on the position being played, there are different risks, focuses, and purposes soccer gear should serve. From goalies to forwards, each player has a different goal and their play style differs. This article will serve as an easy guide to touch base with whenever you need a refresher on what to look for in protective gear based on your soccer position.
Forwards, or strikers, are members of the team whose focus is to score goals. These players frequent the opponent’s end of the field, often working around their defensive players. They won’t usually get close to their own net in case their team can pass them the ball so they can run with it. While all soccer players are adept at agility and dynamic movements, forwards must be extremely skilled at accurate kicks, avoiding the defense, and running fast.
Forward players are broken up into three categories:
- Center forwards are normally the main striker and stay in the middle of the field, always ready for the opportunity to make a goal.
- Second strikers are the supporting role, normally passing to the center forward to assist in making a goal.
- Wingers can play on either the left or right side of the field. They should be adept dribblers to get through the defense and pass to the center forward.
These players are action-oriented and will do lots of running, dribbling, kicking, and pivoting. They’re at a high risk of foot, ankle, shin, and knee injuries. To accommodate, forwards should invest in properly fitted protective gear, such as cleats and shin guards that can also help protect their ankles. Look for smaller, light shin guards that provide freedom to move in bursts, and speed, but still add protection.
Behind the forwards but working with them are the midfielders. They often practice both offensive and defensive skills. At once they assist their defensive players when they need support and their offensive players when they need to break through. If the opportunity presents itself, they can also score goals. For the most part, midfielders frequent the center of the field, but depending on how they’re supporting their team, they could be anywhere.
Midfielders are broken up into four categories:
- Center midfielders play the middle ground between offense and defense so when the defense gets the ball out of their corner, the center midfielders can carry it toward the forwards.
- Defensive midfielders are an extra layer of defensive protection. Of midfielders, these ones will stay farther back. They’ll help tackle the opposition when they try to approach the net.
- Attacking midfielders are the opposite of defensive midfielders; they’ll run up with the forwards to provide support. These players help find openings for passes and goals.
- Wide midfielders cover the outer zones of the field. They can help flank players and keep the play within the field.
Midfielder positions have a wide array of responsibilities. They must be adaptable and cover ground quickly. There’s the potential for close-quarter contact as they evade opponents with the ball or take possession of it. Like forwards, they must be able to move freely and quickly, but they might need a little bit more shin guard protection.
Defenders are the second-to-last level of protection before a goal is made. Of course, this means these players stay close to the net, but can still wind up closer to the midfield. Defenders will try to take possession of the ball and/or kick it out of their end toward an open midfielder or forward. Their focus is not on scoring goals but on preventing the other team from doing so.
Defenders can be broken up into our categories:
- Center-back defenders, like other center positions, focus their efforts in the middle. They’ll either cover a section of the field or a specific player.
- Sweepers aren’t always used positions. Of defensive positions, they would stay the farthest back as the last line of defense. They provide that little bit of extra defense anywhere that’s needed.
- Full-back defenders take each side of the center-back player so the outer sections of the field are controlled.
- Wing-back defenders are more offensive than other defenders. They can provide support to the full-back defenders or midfielders to get the ball away from the net.
Defenders can experience a lot of clashing as they try to get possession of the ball or block opponent kicks. That’s why they need thicker, longer, more protective shin guards. Ideally, the shin guard will provide extra ankle protection to keep their legs safe as they connect with other players.
Goalkeepers are, of course, the only ones on the field in that position. There are usually backup goalies, but only one plays at any given time. When it comes to goalkeeping, they’re the last line of defense and subject to oncoming players at full speed, powerfully kicked soccer balls, the ground, and the metal posts that make the net. All these factors are dangers to the goalie when their one purpose is to keep the ball out of their net.
They won’t typically leave their goal, so long-term running isn’t necessary, but protection and the ability for quick bursts is essential. Penalty kicks, rushing, and saving are all scenarios that pose a risk to the goalie, not only for their legs, but for their body, arms, and head as well.
Goalkeepers should wear a solid set of protective gear including goalie gloves, headgear, and light padding. Generally, goalkeepers don’t come into contact with other players as much, so shin guards aren’t as important headgear, for example.
Comparing types of soccer training gear
Women’s versus men’s soccer gear
These positions apply to both men's and women’s soccer, and while both parties should value the same pieces of soccer training gear, the style and fit should vary. Women and men have different play styles, bodies, biology, and risks.
Youth versus adult soccer gear
The first notable difference between youth and adult soccer gear is size. Make sure the correct size is worn while playing. Depending on the player and position, youth players might not need as intense protection. For example, kicks, tackles, and saves are not as powerful in youth games, but headgear and shin guards should always be a priority.
Off-the-pitch soccer training gear
While the gear worn in practice will often be different from that worn in-game, it’s important the gear mimics what the body will do and feel like when playing. Choose training gear that offers breathability, flexibility, and performance so it doesn’t detract from training.
Check out what else is offered at Storelli to play soccer safely and enjoy it for years to come.