For many of us who still play soccer recreationally, whether as weekend warriors or as part of multiple leagues all week long, the habits formed in the earlier years of training tend to stick with you like Henry’s hand to a goal-bound ball. For instance, to this day I still prefer to cut the ball from my left to my right as I dribble downfield — unfortunately a tendency that is not lost on my opponents. Even the gear I wear on the field has been shaped from my youth, where Adidas was always first choice for my boots and clothing for as long as I can remember.
Last winter I made the first significant change to my purchasing habits when I picked up a pair of Nike Ronaldinho field turf boots at the local Nike outlet store. At 75% off the list price, I was willing to give them a shot; besides, the fit was as comfortable as I had experienced for a pair of soccer boots. I wore those shoes out by the end of the summer, but not before I had stitched them back together in a couple places. It was a sad day when I finally consigned them to the garbage bin.
Recently, I was given the opportunity to review some soccer training gear, and again I decided to try the latest from Nike instead of the usual Adidas suspects. With winter approaching, I wanted to try a training shirt and shorts combo that could act as a layer underneath my regular uniform. Additionally, with my weeknight games starting at 8:30pm, a pair of gloves was also desirable.
While my first choice would have been a Pompey training kit, I decided to try out one from Arsenal instead. Perhaps wearing the cannon badge would inspire me to play more fluidly on the field like they do at the Emirates — maybe even encourage a right-to-left cut-back on my defender! Sadly, the latter did not occur when I first played wearing the training top, I was not going to be snapped up by Arsene Wenger anytime soon.
The Arsenal training top from Nike has a comfortable fit, though it was a bit larger in size than the comparable Adidas size (I tried the XL). The shirt features some clever venting panels on the back that helped with perspiration removal during the course of the game. The shirt also does not chaff in the normal problem areas either; definitely a plus in my book. Overall, the workmanship was very good, and has so far proved durable through nearly a dozen wear-then-wash cycles. I’d suggest getting the next size down if you plan on using this as an undershirt, otherwise expect a loose fit. And if you don’t care for Arsenal, Nike makes training kits representing other clubs from around the world, including Barcelona and Manchester United.
Probably the biggest revelation I made during this product testing came when I tried the latest gloves from Nike. To date I have made do with a pair of cross-country skiing gloves during colder evenings, but they were woefully inadequate for gripping the ball for throw-ins. The Nike Field Player Glove V — my first actual soccer glove mind you — not only serves very well in that capacity, but in also being water-resistant, they are very effective during rainy play as well. I distributed a couple pairs to some teammates, and received positive reviews back from them. The rest of the team wants to know when they are getting their pairs — don’t hold your breath guys. Because the have a weather barrier woven into the fabric, these gloves stretch very little. Be sure to order the correct size or you’ll find them too tight for comfort.
We are now in December, a traditional month for gift-giving, when you might want to treat the soccer player in your life to some new gear. I’m hoping my family remembers that, as my birthday is next week — Hey, I need a new set of shin-guards; I know you’ve smelled the old ones! The courteous staff at SoccerPro made the Nike training gear available to me — thanks again guys — I have it on good authority that they carry shin-guards too…