Winter football can be a tough challenge for kids, especially young ones, so it’s important to do everything we can to make them comfortable and make sure their winter footballing experiences are remembered for positive reasons. We can prepare them for the conditions both in terms of kit / equipment and what they do during and after the game. So we’ve devised 10 top tips for keeping warm at winter football matches.
Wear compression / base layers under their shorts and top. Compression clothing sits very close to the body, keeping it warm while wicking sweat away from the skin. According to official rules of the sport, undergarments worn underneath kit must match the colour of your kit. Although we’d challenge you to find a league that enforces this in children’s football! Compression shorts / trousers / vests can be purchased cheaply from stores like Sports Direct or Newitts. Go for the green ones if you can!
Get some polyester sports gloves (not cotton or knitted, these can absorb cold moisture) and a beanie hat to keep the extremities warm. These ones from Decathlon are perfect. It’s also good advice to keep their fingers clenched together into a fist, to keep the warmth in their hands and reduce the amount of skin exposed to the cold air.
Bring an extra set of soccer socks to keep with you whilst your child plays. If their feet are wet and cold they can change these at half time to warm up.
They can lose their body heat very quickly so get them to wear jogging bottoms and a sports jacket while on not playing. Before the game, afterwards, and during when substituted. If they are sitting on the bench, wear a blanket to keep warm at winter football.
Bring a plastic bag to keep the jacket / jogging bottoms in whilst playing. If it’s raining, it will be invaluable to keep these items dry so they’re not putting on cold wet clothes.
Keep them moving! It’s so important to keep the movement going as much as possible so they heat up from the inside. Make sure they’re not stood around for long periods, and make sure they’re engaged in the match.
Make it fun! Make a feature out of the weather, challenge them to get as muddy as possible, or to make a big splash in the puddles.
There is a cut off point – as much we want the kids to enjoy their game and learn some resilience, if the weather is really bad there’s no point in putting them through it. Their welfare and enjoyment of the game should come first.
After the game, get their wet clothing off asap and get them into warm dry clothing. Even if just for the journey home. The wet clothing will keep the cold water close to their body, and will become especially apparent when they’ve stopped running around and the body temperature starts to drop.
Get home to a nice warm bath to bring the body temperature back up, and a hot chocolate as a reward!