Essential Soccer Gear to Pack for Tournaments

Expert section: Mate Kontra – I’ve played soccer at a very high level all my life. I’ve been coached by ex-pro, D1, and Academy level coaches, currently playing at the MLS-Next level in California. I’ve played in roughly 20 tournaments throughout my time playing at various levels. I would like to share with you my experience with what soccer gear you should take, to ensure good performance and a fun time!

Soccer Photo

Soccer tournaments are a very competitive form of the beautiful game that players can enjoy. 

Whether you are a player with experience, or completely new to the sport, your gear can make a drastic difference in the way you play. 

But it’s difficult to remember everything that you may need, or want in a tournament environment. 

So, we have created a list of the 3 most important pieces of equipment that you should take to tournaments. 

Be sure to check out any links below each item to get a more in-depth understanding of their use and function. 

Related article: What to Pack For a Soccer Tournament | Advice By MLS-Next Player

Soccer Pickup Tournament
‘Soccer Pickup Tournament’ (#1 Unsplash – Izuddin Helmi Adnan)

Top 3 Soccer Equipment to Pack for Tournaments

The following is the list of soccer equipment that will make your experience at the tournament better, and help you perform well. 

Having participated in more tournaments than I can count, I am certain that these items deserve a place on this list. 

We will be providing detailed explanations for each, to help you understand why you should make space for them in your bag. 

If you’re new to soccer, I highly recommend investing in these items because they can have a great effect on the way you play. 

Soccer Player Stretching Before Playing
‘Soccer Player Stretching Before Playing’ (#2 Envato – YuriArcursPeopleImages)

#1: High-Quality Cleats

Cleats are undoubtedly the most important piece of equipment that you need to play well. 

They are the only support for your foot between the ball and your skin, and the surface and your foot. 

Although a cheap pair is enough for occasional use, tournaments are much different from playing a few games each week. 

This style of competition often presents players with several tough matches on the same day, putting a high physical demand on the body. 

So to make sure that you can perform well throughout the tournament, you should bring at least one high-quality pair of cleats

Here is our list of the Best Places to Shop Soccer Cleats in 2023.

Fabric Material Adidas Cleats on Display
‘Fabric Material Adidas Cleats on Display’ (#3 Unsplash – Braden Hopkins)

What makes cleats high quality?

One of the most important factors that contribute to the quality of cleats is comfort. 

When cleats are uncomfortable, they often cause a lot of skin chafing, blisters, and will make your feet hurt. 

Being able to put on and take off the cleats easily, while also being decently tight on your feet is a sign that they fit you well. 

Keep in mind that small imperfections are normal, and they are ironed out once the cleats are broken in. 


  • Put them on & take them off easily
  • Decently tight around your feet
  • Small imperfections are fine

High-quality cleats will also be made of durable materials, and don’t break easily. 

First, be sure that the cleats are not made of cheap plastic.

Great cleats are often made of materials such as nylon or leather, which are both very durable and have structure to them. 

Then look around the seam of the studs and make sure that there is no stitching. 

Having the studs glued rather than stitched will increase the longevity of the cleats, ensuring that they do not rip at the seam of the studs. 


  • Made of durable material
    • Nylon
    • Leather
    • Other synthetic materials
  • Not cheap plastic or rubber

Last but not least, the stud pattern is a question that is often asked by people who are looking to purchase a high-quality pair of cleats. 

By wearing many different brands of cleats with a large variety of stud patterns, I can tell you from experience that the stud pattern doesn’t make much of a difference. 

The only relevant topic about studs that you should consider, is whether they are meant for grass or turf. 

Soft ground studs are typically longer and made of metal, making them effective on grass.  

Firm ground studs on the other hand are shorter and made of plastic, making them more effective on artificial grass, or turf. 

Using the wrong studs on the wrong surface can cause you to slip while changing directions and in some cases even cause injuries. 


  • Stud pattern doesn’t matter too much
  • Firm Ground Studs
    • Meant for turf
    • Shorter & made of plastic
  • Soft GroundStuds
    • Meant for grass
    • Longer & made of metal

#2: Shin guards 

Having the right shin guards is the best way for players to protect themselves and avoid getting hurt in tough matches. 

It is important to choose shin guards that are made of hard materials to make sure that they can protect your shins from all impacts.

Tournaments tend to be very competitive and physical, so it is crucial to have the right pair to avoid getting hurt. 

The thickness of the plastic can be a telling sign if it can withstand a hard impact and protect you from bruising and other injuries. 

Other factors such as the types, sizes, and shapes allow players to choose the one that fits best. 

But what should you look for when purchasing shin guards, and how do you know that they are the one for you?

Brexit Sliding Tackle
‘Brave Defender Making Heroic Tackle’ (#4 Unsplash – Omar Ram)

How to choose the right shin guard?

The factor that makes the most difference when picking a shin guard is whether or not it has ankle braces attached at the bottom. 

The main advantage of ankle braces is the fact that they protect your ankles and keep the shin guards in place. 

However, they are bulky, can get twisted under the socks, and even mess up your touch if they get in the way. 

So I would recommend getting ones with ankle braces only if you are a beginner, otherwise, the ones without ankle braces are excellent. 

Ankle protectors

  • Protect ankle
  • Bulky & twist under the socks
  • Can get in the way of the ball
  • Recommended for beginners

Choosing the right size can also be somewhat of a dilemma while trying to find the right shin guard.

Defenders will typically need more protection to allow them to make hard tackles, so purchasing the recommended size by the manufacturer is probably the best way to go. 

On the contrary, attackers and midfielders may want to purchase a size or two smaller than recommended. 

Smaller shin guards move around less and are less likely to get in the way when taking a touch on the ball. 

As long as you are nimble on your feet and know how to avoid hard challenges, having smaller shin guards shouldn’t be an issue. 


  • Larger shin guards
    • More protection
    • Move around more
    • Better for defenders
  • Smaller shin guards
    • Less protection
    • Move around less
    • Better for midfielders & forwards

Last but not least, shin guard sleeves can also be a great accessory to have, depending on how much your shin guards can move around. 

An extra sleeve around the shin guards will make sure that they stay in place at all times. 

After a sprint or tackle, shin guards may slide to the wrong part of the leg, reducing the protection that it provides. 

This can be dangerous if you get tackled because the shins will be exposed and the chances of getting hurt will increase. 

Extra Sleeve

  • Prevents shin guards from sliding around
  • Ensures that the shins are always protected

#3: Grip socks

A popular accessory that many soccer players have is a pair of grip socks. 

Grip socks are one of the best pieces of equipment that money can buy because of how much they can transform a player’s game. 

Their main function is to stabilize the ankles by preventing the foot from sliding around on the insoles of the cleats. 

This will make sharp direction changes effortless, as it will decrease the chances of slipping even at higher speeds. 

Additionally, by reducing the amount of slippage that is caused by the socks, they also play a great role in preventing injuries. 

Not allowing the foot to slide around prevents the ankle from being bent in awkward positions, or being strained. 

But with so many different grip socks available on the market, how do you know which ones are the best? 

Soccer Player Using Grip Socks
‘Soccer Player Using Grip Socks’ (#5 Unsplash – Nathan Rogers)

How to choose grip socks?

Choosing grip socks mostly depends on the price.

I’ve worn expensive pairs, as well as very cheap pairs of grip socks and there is virtually no difference in their effectiveness. 

The only way they differ is the quality of the socks. 


  • Cheap pairs are as effective as expensive pairs

Cheaper pairs tend to be made of rough and inelastic materials, making them uncomfortable and difficult to put on. 

Because they are made of lower-quality materials, they also tend to rip much easier with less use, making their lifespan a lot shorter. 

But to make up for it, most places that sell cheap grip socks will include multiple pairs for less money, allowing you to use grip socks more often. 

More expensive pairs just last longer, and they are more comfortable to wear. 

Other than that, there is no difference between the two. 

Though, I highly recommend having at least one high-quality pair for games, as the comfort can help you focus on the game. 


  • Cheaper socks are made of cheaper materials
    • Inelastic 
    • Rough
    • Rip easily
  • Cheaper socks include several pairs
  • More expensive socks are higher quality
    • Elastic
    • Soft
    • Last longer

Last but not least, you may want to consider the length of the socks that you’re planning on purchasing. 

Longer socks tend to work better during games because they allow you to use them as an alternative to a shin guard sleeve. 

They stabilize shin guards as much as a sleeve would, and they also allow you to adjust them with your hands more easily. 

From my experience, it is best if they go 2-3 inches above your ankle, any higher or lower will make it difficult to use shin guards. 


  • Longer socks tend to be better
  • Can use them as shin guard sleeves
    • 2-3 inches above the ankle works best
Soccer Player Showing Off Juggling Skills
‘Soccer Player Showing Off Juggling Skills’ (#6 Unsplash – Nima Sarram)


Having a pair of high-quality cleats at a tournament is one of the best possible ways to set yourself up for success.

Great cleats will provide comfort and support, while also being durable enough to withstand several games in quick succession. 

Be sure to use firm ground studs on artificial grass fields, and soft ground studs on real grass fields. 

Shin guards are the best protection against hard tackles and impacts on your shins to prevent an injury. 

To make sure that shin guards are effective, they should be the correct size and secured tightly to the shins to prevent them from moving around. 

Last but not least, grip socks are a must-have item if you are looking to perform well in games. 

They are one of the best tools to stabilize your foot and your ankle so that you can change directions without slipping. 

Additionally, they can replace shin sleeves and secure your shin guards in place, if you are looking for good value for money. 

Image Attribution & Licensing

Featured Image: ‘Soccer Balls Piled Up’ By Pedram Raz (Licensed via Unsplash)

#1: ‘Soccer Pickup Tournament’ by Izuddin Helmi Adnan (Licensed via Unsplash)

#2: ‘Soccer Player Stretching Before Playing’ by YuriArcursPeopleImages (Licensed via Unsplash)

#3: ‘Fabric Material Adidas Cleats on Display’ by Braden Hopkins (Licensed via Unsplash)

#4: ‘Brave Defender Making Heroic Tackle’ by Omar Ram (Licensed via Unsplash)

#5: ‘Soccer Player Using Grip Socks’ by Nathan Rogers (Licensed via Unsplash)

#6: ‘Soccer Player Showing Off Juggling Skills’ by Nima Sarram (Licensed via Unsplash)