Essential gear for team sports
Participating in team sports is a great activity for anyone, no matter what your age, condition or level of ability. So long as you find the sport that’s right for you, and play it at an appropriate level, you’ll find that the benefits it brings are many. Playing sport will improve your overall level of fitness, but unlike solitary exercise, team sports are also social and competitive.
Playing on a team gives you a group to identify with. You share in each other’s struggles on the pitch, celebrating your victories and commiserating in your defeat. A level of camaraderie develops among team sports players, with huge psychological benefits. Away from the sports field you may have little in common, but when you’re playing together you’re united by a common interest and a common goal.
It’s important when taking part in team sports however to make sure that you have the correct equipment. Playing sport is fun and healthy, but neglecting to have the right gear can increase the risk of accidents and injury. It’s not just about safety either; having the right gear can also be essential to your team’s pride and your chances of success.
One element that should not be overlooked is your team’s uniform. If you’re just playing for fun or are only just starting out, you might feel that getting matching uniforms doesn’t need to be at the top of your to-do list. But matching uniforms are perhaps most important when a team is just starting out, as they help to forge a sense of collective identity and purpose.
The different players on your team may not know each other that well, but just like an army fighting unit they have to be molded into a crack squad that can think on its feet, where every member is looking out for every other and they can act in unison as a well-oiled machine.
Matching uniforms can help to speed up this process. Keeping their shirts clean and well-pressed instills a sense of pride and purpose in your players; when they all put them on they become more than just the sum of their parts. They are not just a group of individuals playing ball; they are a team. And of course, a collective look and identity is enormously helpful from a marketing and PR point of view. Give the team a memorable name, like the lions or tigers, and have their shirts reflect this.
Of course, what you wear while playing team sports isn’t just about looking good. It’s also about protective yourself while you’re playing. Different sports have different safety essentials in terms of clothing. These include helmets, pads, footwear and so on.
It’s easy enough to find out what’s required for your particular sport. Buying second-hand is fine if you’re on a tight budget when starting out, but make sure that every item you purchase is fit for the job. It doesn’t matter if items look a little tarnished or worn, so long as they actually work and will protect the wearer. They also need to fit well.
Some protective clothing essentials apply whatever team sport you’re taking part in. You can look after your muscles and reduce the risk of injury by using compression wear, available from specialist sports outfitters like Tommie Copper (tommiecopper.com). These provide support and prevent chafing, and can also help with blood circulation which is important in preventing common sports injuries like torn hamstrings or tennis elbow.
In addition to protective clothing, it’s important for all team sports players to have access to at least a basic first aid kit. This could be something that each player has to hand or it could be something that is collectively maintained by the team.
The contents will vary from sport to sport, but it should generally include bandages and sticking plasters, scissors and tweezers, common allergy medication (e.g. for bee stings if playing outdoors), tongue depressors, cold packs, a rescue blanket, heat treatment, non-prescription painkillers and/or anesthetic spray. Obviously this is not an exhaustive list. Stocked first aid kits for team sports can be purchased from specialist retailers.
There are certain items that each individual player on a sports team should make sure they have access to. One of these is water. Carry at least a 500ml bottle of still water with you to every game, probably more. It’s also a good idea to have some kind of high nutrition snack, like sports snack bar, handy for when you start to feel low-powered.
Although this could be included in one of the sections above, it’s vital to have the correct footwear for whatever sport you’re taking part in. Shoes or boots are not protective clothing as such or necessarily part of a team uniform, but they are among the most important item in terms of preventing injury and also maximizing performance on the field.
Do your research, and find out what the right footwear for your sport is, and who the most reputable suppliers are. Don’t be tempted to skimp and just wear an old pair of sneakers from the back of your closet; not only will it not look good, but you’ll soon end up with blisters, crushed toes or worse.
There are other pieces of essential gear that are so basic it’s easy for them to be overlooked. For instance, it’s vital that somebody has an accurate and agreed-upon method of keeping time. In a gymnasium this may just be the clock on the wall, but outdoors you’ll need a stopwatch. In fact, a stopwatch is a good idea even if there is a wall clock, as they’re easier to keep time on.
You’ll also always need towels, and some way of getting clean after a game. Lockers, or somewhere safe to keep civilian clothes, bags and wallets are also important. If you’re travelling as a team, you’ll need a vehicle and driver to get you there and back, and so on.
Whatever sport you enjoy, there will be essential gear needed in order to pursue it properly. Some things are necessary to any collective sporting activity, while others are particular to particular sports. One thing is sure, and that is that having the right gear will enhance your enjoyment of your sport of choice, and also reduce the risk of injury.