How to pack your football bag | Kit bag essentials

You know one area of your game which deserves more attention? Your kit bag.

Packing your kit bag

Preparation is the key to success. So whether you think it or not, in football, that starts the moment you pack your kit bag before heading to your big match or training. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well there’s actually quite a lot more to consider than just bringing your boots.

Depending on what surface and format of the beautiful game you play, you should aim to take various pieces of equipment to help you excel over 90 minutes. So whether you’re a senior player, total beginner or parent who packs their little superstar’s bag for their Sunday league matches, we’re here to help you do the ultimate job.

Read on so you make sure you don’t fall victim to the famous quote ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’.


What should you always pack in your kit bag?

There are various things you can pack in your football kit bag but the following items are the essentials and ones you simply can’t forget.

Kit bag

It may seem really obvious but you can’t pack your football stuff unless you have a kit bag to put your gear in. There’s plenty available on the market and they come in various styles and sizes. Our tip is just to pick one with a sturdy strap and one which you can fit all the equipment you need in. With the unpredictable weather the UK offers also be sure the bag you choose is waterproof. Nobody wants to put on soggy socks!

Boots

To all you more experienced players out there, you’ll know how much of a nightmare it is if you forget your boots. Borrowing a pair from your teammate just isn’t the same and can often be uncomfortable. So to put it simply, boots are a must have. Firm Ground (FG) boots should be on your list if you’re playing on dry grass, Soft Ground (SG) boots on wet, muddy pitches or Artificial Grass (AG) boots when playing on 3G/4G surfaces. Multi-Ground boots will also do the job if you have to play the game across various surfaces. If you’re playing indoors or on an artificial surface then astroturf boots will be needed.

There’s so many options available so just be sure to choose a pair which you are comfortable in and feel will help you perform to your maximum level.

Shin pads

Shin pads (or shin guards as they are also known) are a must have for two reasons. Firstly, a referee (especially in 11-a-side) will not let you play without them and, secondly, you leave yourself exposed to a potential injury if you don’t have them.

Although they don’t always feel the most natural piece of equipment to wear, shin pads are there to protect you. They provide shock absorption from collisions which decrease the risk of a serious injury. These also come in different styles and shapes. Just pick the ones that you feel comfortable in and offer good protection.

Training t-shirt

Yes, you’ll be wearing your team’s strip during a match but if you’re only going training or are warming up, you’ll probably need a shirt to keep you warm and dry before kick-off. There’s lots of football training tops available from various manufacturers, while there are also official club ones on the market.

Shorts

If you’re playing 11-a-side you’ll probably be warming up in your team’s shorts. However, if you’re training or playing other formats of the game you will need to bring your own pair. Just like with training shirts, there are a wide range of wick-sweating shorts available to keep you dry and ready for the referee’s whistle.

Socks

Another item of kit that is provided to you by an 11-a-side team but one that needs to be packed in order to train or play various other forms of the game. Socks keep your shin pads in place to make sure you are properly protected when heading into battle. There’s a lot of sweat-wicking football stockings out there to aid performance, comfort and support.

Training top

Even if it’s the height of summer, it’s important to pack a training top in your kit bag. It will keep your muscles cool and dry before kick-off and will also come in handy after the match when your body is cooling down. We hope not, but if you find yourself on the substitutes’ bench, a top will not only keep you warm but will make sure you don’t clash with the players out on the pitch.

Towel

Football makes you sweat. So to have a shower after the game you will need to have a towel. If the venue you go to doesn’t have shower facilities, it is still useful to have a towel to dry yourself (especially in hot or wet weather) before heading home.

Underwear

Following on from a towel, if you have a shower after the game the last thing you really want to do is to put on the sweaty underwear you just ran around in for 90 minutes. Not only is it uncomfortable but it’s also unhygienic. So remember, pack a spare pair of underwear.

Water bottle

The last of our essentials is the water bottle. Keeping hydrated before, during and after football is vital to all players. All 11-a-side teams should supply their own water but if you’re at training or playing a smaller format of the game, don’t forget to bring your own. Even if you are playing 11-a-side you may still want to take one if you have a preferred pre-match drink other than water.


What should you pack in your football bag if you have room?

We’ve been through the essentials, but you should also consider packing the following if you have a bit of extra room in your kit bag.

Jacket

A training top is essential but, if you have room, definitely pop in a jacket, especially in the winter or wet (a waterproof one would be ideal). This will keep you warm and dry, allowing you to be ready to perform when the time for action comes. If you’re a sub, you may also need it to cover up your team’s shirt so that the referee doesn’t become any more confused than they may already be.

Base layer

You won’t need much extra room at all for this item so, if you can squeeze in a base layer, it’s definitely worth it. Now an everyday part of the modern-day player's kit, a base layer provides extra protection from the cold in the winter but will also keep you dry, comfortable and chill free in the summer months.

Tracksuit bottoms

Shorts will not always do the required job, especially in the winter months. So if you like your layers then you should consider a pair of tracksuit bottoms which you’ll be able to wear at training, pre and post-match, or in most casual five and six-a-side matches. Additionally, if you are a fan of keeping your legs compressed, you may also want to consider packing leggings for an extra layer and to help aid recovery.

Grip socks

Popular amongst footballers at both professional and amateur standards, grip socks (https://www.footy.com/s?footySearch=grip+socks) are worn over the football sock to help eliminate boot slippage. If you have a pair of these you will be more confident in making those sharp movements in crucial areas of the pitch.

Sock tape

If your socks or shin pads always slip during game time, you’ll need to consider bringing some sock tape with you. Don’t forget though, in 11-a-side, this needs to be the same colour as your team’s shirt. Additionally, if you are prone to blisters it would also be useful to pack some proven blister tape. These will both aid in helping you play your game worry-free.

Muscle gel / cream

Physios are something only clubs higher up the football pyramid have. Whilst a first aid trained person or – at least – a first aid kit should be on hand if any injuries do occur, that may not always be the case. Keeping that in mind, adding a muscle gel / cream to your bag could come in handy if you pull or strain anything.

Boot bag

Why do you need a boot bag if your boots are already in the kit bag? Well, if you’re playing on grass your boots will get muddy or, on an artificial pitch, will collect countless black pellets. To avoid mixing with the rest of your gear, get a sturdy boot bag to put them in. If you pick one that does a good job it will also help stop the smell of your sweaty feet from engulfing your entire kit bag.

Football

Yes, footballs will more often than not be provided where you play your matches. However, we’ve all been in a five or six-a-side game when the ball has gone flying over the fence and can’t be found. So if you have a football lying around at home, you may as well bring it with you – even if it’s just for a kickabout in the warm-up.

Shower Gel

If you have the facilities to have a shower after the match then pack some shower gel in your bag. It’s nice to have your own and means there won’t be a problem if the club you play at has forgotten to refill the dispensers in the shower block. Beware though, at least one of your teammates is bound to forget theirs so will probably want to ‘borrow’ yours.

Flip Flops

Another product popular amongst both professional and amateur ballers, flip flops (also known as sliders) will help prevent you from slipping on wet surfaces which is much needed in the shower and surrounding areas of the dressing room. As well as that, they allow your feet to breathe after being compressed in socks and boots for 90mins, therefore aiding recovery. Who knew the combination of socks and flip flops would become so ‘fashionable’..?

Snacks

Everyone loves a half-time orange, don’t they? Well, if a segment of citrusy fruit isn’t your go-to snack then you should think about bringing your own. You may not be hungry after 45 minutes but you probably will be after the game. We recommend fruit or an energy bar but it’s totally down to you.

Sunscreen

You will apply sunscreen before leaving your house to play football in the summer months. But if the sun is really beating down you should pop some in your kit bag to help you stay protected from the UV rays throughout the day. Avoid waking up the next day struggling to function due to sun burn and, more importantly, prevent any long term damage to your skin.

Hat, gloves and snood

Football fans will tend to take a hat, gloves and scarf with them to matches in the winter to keep them warm whilst spectating. When playing in a cold snap, you should also take a hat, gloves and snood. Although – if playing 11-a-side - you’ll only be allowed to play wearing the gloves, you can wear the hat and snood in the warm up, post-match or as a substitute. Basically just bring anything which will help keep your body warm so that you’re ready to take the game to your opponents.


What gear is essential for winter matches or training?

It’s true, you will have to certainly consider packing more stuff in your kit bag if you’re playing in the winter months. As we’ve pointed out earlier in the article, these items will help keep you warm and protected at the time of year you’ll need it most.

Along with the essentials, here’s a recap of what you should take to football in the winter….

  • Soft and Firm Ground Boots (grass might be wet from rain or hard from freezing temperature)
  • Tracksuit bottoms
  • Leggings
  • Base layer
  • Jacket
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Snood

How do I clean and care for my boots?

Cleaning and caring for your boots properly can extend their lifespan and save you money in the long run.

If your boots are made from leather…

  • Clean outdoors with an old toothbrush or stud cleaner to remove any dried mud.
  • Use a clean, damp cloth (hot water) to wipe the dirt from the boots.
  • Remove the laces and place your boots in the washing machine to clean separately.
  • Leave to dry naturally but not near a radiator as that can crack the leather.

If you have synthetic boots then follow the first step above but then…

  • Clean outdoors with an old toothbrush or stud cleaner to remove any dried mud.
  • Use a clean, damp cloth (hot water) with a touch of liquid washing detergent to wipe the dirt from the boots.
  • Remove the laces and place in the washing machine to clean separately.
  • Leave to dry naturally.

Here’s some tips to stop your boots from smelling…

  • Sprinkle a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda inside the boots after wearing.
  • Change insoles.
  • Hang them outside on a washing line on a cold, dry, windy day.
  • Spray the boots inside with a disinfectant spray (check it doesn’t contain bleach) and leave to dry overnight.
  • Wear clean, hot washed socks every time.

As for your clothing, put in the washing machine (separating whites from colours!) on the recommended setting to ensure they are clean and dry in time for your next game.

When you’ve cleaned all of your kit and unpacked your kit bag, store all of your items in a dry place where the elements can’t impact them.


How often should I buy new football boots?

The answer to this question very much depends on how often you play and the quality of your footwear. The Premier League footballers pretty much get a new pair of boots each game, while lower league players will also change their boots numerous times a season. But for those of you who play once or twice a week, a pair of boots should last at least one year, possibly even two. If they get a hole, tear or any damage that isn’t just cosmetic then you should also replace them because they could cause your feet some damage.

If you’re on a budget, there’s plenty of options out there which offer great value for money.

Where can I buy cheap football gear?

There’s plenty of places on the web where you can buy cheap football gear but where better to go than right here at FOOTY.COM? We compare prices on pretty much all the footballing equipment you’ll ever need. If it’s boots, socks, shorts, leggings or something else you’re looking for, we have numerous options to show you. So what are you waiting for? Whether it’s trying to avoid relegation from Sunday League or a five-a-side title decider, refresh your kit bag ahead of your next big match.

A football enthusiast who's scored as many Premier League goals as Lionel Messi.