What Moms Want For Their Daughters
Team Insight goes right to the source for what mothers think about their daughters’ sports gear.
What Moms Want For Their Daughters
Team Insight goes right to the source for what mothers think about their daughters’ sports gear.
Wash the kids’ uniforms — Check. Get all their equipment in the car — Check. Fill water bottles, pack snacks — Check. Amy’s practice starts at 9. Olivia has a game at 11. Need to coordinate driving schedules…
A mother’s mind is a running To-Do list that is constantly getting updated and is never complete — especially during their child’s sport season. In addition to making sure everyone gets where they need to be, mothers are primarily the ones who know exactly what’s going on — the size of their kids’ uniforms and shoes, the schedule of practices and games, the names of all the other kids and their moms, the list goes on.
A mother’s brain is truly a treasure trove of knowledge. So who better to provide insight on their daughters’ sports gear and apparel than moms who live it firsthand? To provide that insight, Team Insight interviewed five moms across the country of daughters in sports, ranging from ages six to 16.
Let’s put it right out there: Who makes the sports equipment purchases for your family, and who pays for it?
Amber D.: Me!
Lauren F.: I’m the one who makes all the sports equipment purchases for our family. We have a pretty big spread of equipment at this point, as the girls have gotten older and needed bigger and better items. Some items we get used or as hand-me-downs, but most of it I purchase new since they use it so frequently.
Mary Ann F.: We both purchase our equipment. My husband and I mostly purchase the needed items, but any extras the kids want is on them.
Katherine P.: I make most, if not all, of the sports equipment purchases for her and her father and I split the costs.
Sheel S.: I am the one who keeps up with her equipment needs and our family pays for it.
Both girls have played soccer, recreation and travel, since first grade. Both also play lacrosse year-round for a team that’s basically rec plus, not quite travel. They officially started playing in first grade, but had a stick in their hands for years before that. Finley will also be starting to play club volleyball at her w middle school.
Any estimate on how much money you spend a year on your daughters’ sports equipment, shoes and apparel?
Amber D.: For Lucy, the uniforms are provided through the school, but we buy clothes and shoes for practice. I’d say probably $100 a year for basketball and $100 a year for volleyball. For Holly, probably $100 a year for soccer.
Lauren F.: Each year it seems like the girls need a full new set of basic equipment. New shoes for sure at least once a year. Those run about $30 for Josie and closer to $60 for Finley since she’s in adult sizes for shoes. A new stick for lacrosse every year, as they get taller — these can range from $50 to $150. Since they’re still so young, I usually bargain shop for past season sticks at around $80 each. For soccer, there’s less equipment and it lasts longer. They sized up into bigger soccer balls recently and those ran about $40 each. Finley’s the goalie for soccer so there’s additional gear she needs. Her most recent pair of goalie gloves were $60. She also wears knee pads.
Mary Ann F.: About $300-$500 per daughter for gymnastics, $650 for soccer cleats per daughter and $350 for diving.
Katherine P.: I probably spend on average $300-400 a year on her softball equipment.
Sheel S.: Yearly, I would estimate that we spend $500-$600, with the majority of that for her indoor and outdoor soccer shoes.
What are the challenges in buying sports equipment and apparel for your daughters?
Amber D.: Finding their sizes! I feel like the stores we shop at have had less inventory since the COVID pandemic.
Lauren F.: One of the biggest challenges is that I have to do the bulk of shopping online. There just aren’t a lot of stores, big-box or small mom-and-pop stores, who cater to female athletes. Sure there are stores that specialize in soccer or even lacrosse on a smaller scale, but those are typically stocked very heavily on the men’s sizes and not the women’s. Stores like Dick’s generally only have one or two brands and typically more of the lower-end equipment for beginners. And nobody is around to answer questions about what’s appropriate for the level of play my girls are at. If you don’t know someone who has played and knows the rules, you’re really shopping blindly. Buying starter packs that stores like Dick’s carry are fine for the first few months, but then the girls outgrow the items really fast.
Mary Ann F.: First, it’s nice to try on apparel and shoes for the right fit. That’s a benefit of going to the store versus ordering online. But it seems that inventory is running lower lately at retail stores, so availability of various sizes to try on is a challenge. This is especially true as kids transition from children to adult sizes. Second, kids grow fast, so finding a quality item relative to the cost and the short time your child will fit it can be a challenge.
Katherine P.: The equipment can get really expensive and there isn’t much to pick from in stores, so having to go online is almost a given. This can be a hassle, because it’s likely to get returned if my daughter doesn’t like the equipment or apparel.
Sheel S.: Definitely finding good quality. We used to buy shoes from Amazon when she started and we found that a lot of generic shoe companies will sell shoes that you can tell have lower caliber rubber and fabric. The studs on soccer shoes designed for grass pitches and traction are significantly different when you buy an off-brand.
Lucy plays basketball and volleyball. She has played volleyball for two years and basketball for one year and she plays for her middle school teams. Holly plays soccer and has played for almost three years. She plays for a soccer league called Alamo Heights Fort Sam Houston Soccer League.
On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best, what grade would you give manufacturers for the products you have purchased, and why?
Amber D.: Probably a 6, only because I don’t feel the quality is very good as they never last very long. However, since they are growing we have to buy new every year anyway.
Lauren F.: We use such a large variety of manufacturers, but I’d say overall the beginning items that I purchased at stores like Dick’s aren’t great. Maybe a 3 or 4 based on quality and how long the girls are able to use them for. The items we’ve invested more money in are definitely a 9 or 10, but it took a lot of research to find the items that are the right fit for our girls.
Mary Ann F.: For school spirit wear – 10. These items get worn a lot and therefore laundered a lot. They tend to hold up and the colors don’t wash out. For soccer cleats – 4. They take a beating, but they still break down faster than expected. For swimsuits and leotards – 10. These are probably sturdier because a failure would lead to quite an exposure. For practice goals and nets – 10. They fold up for ease of storage.
Katherine P.: I will give the manufacturers a 7 or 8. I know I’m not buying the best of the best, because those products are out of my price range. So the equipment and apparel Addyson uses may be a step down.
Sheel S.: Now that we have found that spending more on quality equipment allows us to save money in the long run, I’d say 9.
What do you like about their sports items?
Amber D.: It makes it through the season and that’s all we really need.
Lauren F.: Finley loves her Harrow lacrosse shaft, because it’s tapered to her hand. Her Brine head is offset, giving her more whip when she shoots, which she loves. Her Renegade goalie gloves have great protection, but also a lot of give and are a bit sticky to help with saves. Finley’s Cascade goggles do a great job of protecting her face, but also give her a good view of the field without the bars of the goggles getting in her way. Josie’s Nike stick has a wide opening on the head, which helps her be a self-proclaimed “ground ball machine.” It also comes in a lot of colors, including purple, which she loves. She loves her Adidas soccer ball because it holds its air well, but she also loves the brand because they have so many pattern options that appeal to female athletes.
Mary Ann F.: Colors for cleats. Color options for bathing suits and leotards. Practice goals and nets fold up so they don’t take up a lot of storage space. Bags with compartments to hold everything in one spot and it’s great when monograming is offered.
Katherine P.: Now that Addyson is older and isn’t growing at such a fast rate, she fits into an adult helmet. So unless her helmet cracks for some reason, it’s hers for a long while. It’s comforting to buy something that you know she can use for years.
Sheel S.: As far as clothing goes, we have been happy with the diversity of girls’ sporting apparel. They really appeal to my daughter with more feminine prints and colors. We also can find them in most stores, including non-specialty sports stores like Target.
Addyson is going into her fourth season of softball for the Carol Stream Park District and is currently in 14u softball.
What do you dislike?
Amber D.: The quality of the items, but you get what you pay for.
Lauren F.: I dislike the fact that for most parents looking to purchase equipment, there’s very slim pickings. Unless you’re going online or to specialty shops and seeking out better quality equipment, you’re stuck with the bottom of the rung choices, which 50 percent of your team has.
Mary Ann F.: No ability to trial for comfort and fit.
Katherine P.: Addyson is currently playing softball with the park district. If she decides to play travel softball, the cost will significantly increase with the uniforms, bags and gear being much more expensive.
Sheel S.: Constant purchasing. You cannot really buy for the long-term because soccer is a messy sport, your child is growing and their needs are changing as they develop as an athlete.
Has their apparel and equipment improved since you were playing sports as a kid? (If you played sports)
Amber D.: I didn’t play sports, but my sister did and I feel her sports apparel and equipment didn’t wear out as quickly.
Lauren F.: There are definitely more options for female lacrosse players than there were in the past. I love that the sticks now more closely resemble the men’s heads, acknowledging that things like an offset head are important for female shooters as well as guys. Different weight and width lacrosse shafts are also something newer to the girls. Goggles still have a ways to go as most of them are uncomfortable and difficult to have a full field of vision with.
Mary Ann F.: Not really, other than wicking fabric for uniforms.
Katherine P.: I have to assume equipment and apparel have improved, but my sports knowledge is limited as I did dance and poms growing up, so I can’t compare with Addyson’s softball items.
Sheel S.: Variety and availability have improved. I remember having to go to a specialty sporting store even for apparel, but now that athletic wear is in style it is readily available.
Laila plays soccer. This spring will be her eighth season playing. She plays in the U7 league with IAmThird Sports.
Have you had to purchase equipment, apparel or footwear that is unisex or is made for boys? Why and how did you feel about that?
Amber D.: Yes, we have bought boys’ shorts before. Often we need black shorts or shoes and I can’t find them as easily in the girls’ department — especially when it comes to athletic clothing.
Lauren F.: Yes. We’ve had to purchase shoes for Finley that are unisex and it’s super frustrating. As a soccer goalie, she likes wearing turf shoes instead of cleats as it gives her a better feel for the field. About a year ago, she reached the limit of kid-size turfs, but she still wants the choice of fun colors. It took forever to find a brand that sold women’s turf shoes, but we lucked out with Adidas having choices in her size with the pink accent she was looking for.
Mary Ann F.: Shin guards. No issue with it as long as they are comfortable.
Katherine P.: So far everything that I can think of has all been girls. Maybe because it’s softball and everything is primarily girls for that sport.
Sheel S.: Thankfully, I have not had to do that yet.
Where do you buy your sports gear and apparel these days?
Amber D.: Most often at Target or Academy Sports + Outdoors.
Lauren F.: Generally I make all our purchases online at lacrosse- or soccer-specific websites, or through Amazon, depending on who has the better price. I’ll figure out what specifically we need, like turf shoes, then look around until I find the best fit. Amazon is nice because since I can’t find a store that has women’s size turf shoes for Finley to try on I can order a few different sizes since their return policy is so great. For lacrosse, there’s actually a field hockey and girls’ lacrosse-specific store right near us that has a great variety of products. When I’m in a pinch, I purchase there since the options and quality are so much better than bigger sporting goods stores.
Mary Ann F.: European Sports, Dick’s, Amazon and Jolyn. Also local sports stores as it’s nice to get information from knowledgeable staff and to easily get customer service.
Katherine P.: Dick’s Sporting Goods, Play It Again Sports, Amazon and other online sports websites. I find that in-store options have fewer selection and quantity, so I lean toward online purchases.
Sheel S.: We generally buy shoes, shin guards, socks and equipment from Dick’s Sporting Goods or directly from the retailer online. As far as training apparel, I can usually find great deals at Target, Marshalls or even Kohls.
Are there any embarrassing or uncomfortable stories you have about sports gear that you purchased for your daughters?
Lauren F.: Last year the lacrosse team purchased new uniforms for the girls. As parents we had to select the sizes for our kids, which we all did based on their normal sizes. The uniforms showed up a few days before the first game and the cut on these uniforms was ridiculous. I was so upset thinking I’d messed up choosing the wrong sizes until I heard from other parents in the same boat. [The manufacturers] did a slim cut on the jerseys and the kilts were so short they barely covered the girls’ behinds. We took the field for that first game and you could tell the girls were embarrassed to be forced to play a sport in a skin-tight tank top and barely-there skirt. I don’t know what the uniform company was thinking, but to their credit they quickly fixed the error and sent out new uniforms that were appropriate for a female athlete.
Mary Ann F.: Yes, my husband texted me at work letting me know he thought a skunk sprayed outside of our laundry room and that the smell was coming into the room. He soon found out that the smell was from my daughter’s cleats. I’ll keep it a secret which daughter’s shoes were the source of the smell.
Katherine P.: A girl on Addyson’s team went to slide into a base and her pants slid down a little too far. That was an eye opener for all of us parents to size up into new pants as soon as it’s needed.
Finally, if you have a message for the makers of your daughters’ sports equipment and uniforms, what would it be?
Amber D.: Girls need all of the color options, just as boys do. Girls wear black and dark blue, just as boys can wear whatever color they would like.
Lauren F.: It’s important to carve out room for pre-teen female athletes into what they’re putting out. These girls still love dolls and the color pink, but they’re also hard-core athletes. They shouldn’t have to choose between shopping in the men’s section to purchase what they need or settling for something lower quality geared toward their demographic. They aren’t delicate little girls anymore; they’re ready to get serious about their sports and it shouldn’t be so hard to find them the gear they need to do so.
Mary Ann F.: Kids like to have multiple color options and switch between pairs of shoes and apparel. If priced right, that can be a reality.
Katherine P.: Thank you for all you do to help girls enjoy their sport and stay active.
Sheel S.: Keep up with the fun, bright colors and cute looks. While they are competitive athletes, and quality and design are most important, they are still kids who find it fun to have neon colors and have looks that are appealing to them.
Meghan has done gymnastics for eight years competitively (third - 10th grade), soccer for 12 years competitively and recreationally, and diving for the years (ninth grade - current) competitively. Grace has done gymnastics for five years competitively (first- fifth grade), soccer for eight years recreationally and in a club (kindergarten - seventh grade).
Mom Mary Ann F
Daughters: Meghan F. (16, 11th grade), Grace F. (12, seventh grade) Schaumberd, IL