Youth: Parent's Guide to Protective Layering for First-Time Players

Jan 11, 2021

*This article is part of an educational series for soccer parents and players new to soccer*

As a first-time soccer parent, it can be a challenge to know what gear your child needs to protect against injuries and help them play their best. Most parents will know the obvious things - cleats, shin pads and a jersey, but there are many protective options, like protective layering, that can help protect your young player and help them up their game. 

This post will look at the obvious and not-so-obvious soccer protective gear that young soccer players need for the pitch. 

Protective Layering

Another equipment concept to consider, especially for players who live in colder climates, is protective layering. Layering lets you create barriers of clothing and equipment that protect against all weather conditions. Layers also protect players from falls and impacts and keep them warm and dry during practice or in a match. 

Layering helps keep your young player comfortable in cold weather conditions as they warm up and allows them to remove layers of clothing to stay comfortable. An easy way to think of protective layering is to think of it in three layers: a base layer, an insulating layer and a shell layer.

Base Layer

Base layers are closest to the skin and help regulate moisture and temperature by moving moisture away from the skin. In the winter, this will help your young player stay warm and avoid hypothermia, and in the summer, it can help keep them cool. 

A base layer like the BodyShield Sleeveless Undershirt provides moisture-wicking to keep you dry even during the most extended practice. They include special chest padding to help protect the player’s ribs from ball impact and help direct the ball. 

A base layer of leg protection like the BodyShield GK Leggings 2 not only holds your shin pads in place but also protects against turn burn on your knees and calves.

For goalkeepers, padded goalie pants like the ExoShield GK pants include hip pads to absorb the impact of hard falls and shots and material that protects against turf burn.

Insulating Layer

This insulating layer keeps your body warm in cold weather. It traps heat and redirects it back towards your body. The most common insulating material in soccer is microfleece because it is lightweight and has a smooth surface.

Shell Layer

The outer shell layer protects against wind, rain and snow and should be roomy enough to fit comfortably over the other layers. Our Training Hoodie is designed for fall but can also withstand winter weather. It has breathable mesh fabric and has mesh panels for venting. The hood is low contour so that it won’t block your vision during a game and the sleeves even have thumb holes to help keep your hands warm. 

Essential Equipment

Here is a list of essential soccer equipment that is required or recommended for first-time players.


Ok, so let’s start with the obvious, cleats. Players in most leagues need soccer-specific cleats. These specially designed soccer shoes help players with traction on slippery wet grass and give them the support they need on the pitch.

Shin Guards

Shin guards are another essential item that most leagues require players to wear. Shin guards cover delicate shin bones on legs and prevent bruises, cuts and scrapes from kicking feet or hard shots. BodyShield Soccer Leg Guards combine soccer socks and shin guards in one piece of equipment. They also come with extra padding on the ankles and legs for extra protection.


Jerseys are the uniform worn by players during a game. The best kind of jerseys are made from moisture wicking material that helps keep players dry and minimizes distractions. If your young player is a goalkeeper, there are jerseys like the ExoShield Gladiator Goalie Soccer Jersey that also comes with protective padding on the elbows.

Goalie Gloves

If your young player is a goalkeeper, goalie gloves are essential. Goalie gloves protect hands and fingers from hard shots and impacts and provide additional grip for catching fast, slippery soccer balls. They come in practice versions and match versions, but most young players should start with training gloves like the Gladiator Recruit 3. They are durable gloves designed for entry-level goalkeepers and built for protection and performance.

Soccer Headgear 

Head protection isn’t the first thing you think of when you think of soccer gear, but more and more players, parents and coaches are concerned about the risks of head injuries in soccer. The risk for concussions in girls’ soccer is as high as for high-contact sports like boys high-school football and hockey, so it is an issue that should be taken seriously. 

The ExoShield Headguard is one of the only soccer head guards available that reduces the risk of head injury by 85%. Made from military-grade foam to protect against hard hits and collisions, the head guard is made to fit all ages, backgrounds and hairstyles.

If you are looking for protective equipment and layers for your first-time soccer player, take a look at our youth collection today. We’ve got everything you need to protect your young player and help them play their best.

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