The Best Sports Gear to Get Young Athletes This Holiday
Gifts that will help little athletes punch, swing, shoot, stat-track, and, most of all, get more out of their sport of choice.
Trying to find your sports-lover a gift is always a bit more daunting than you think. Which basketball hoop is the right one to live in your driveway for the next 10 years? Which golf clubs will help them crank a dead-center tee-shot? What punching bag is the right for their (surprisingly furious) fists of fury? We get it. But don’t worry. This list of sports gear has something on it for every little athlete. As we already assume you have the basics — bats, gloves, etc. — this list is comprised of some of the less obvious, but still very necessary (and kick-ass) gear that will help them punch, swing, stat-track, and most of all enjoy their sport of choice more. You’re welcome. Just be ready to go outside shortly after all the gifts are opened, no matter how cold it is.
Forever ending the debate over whether a pitch was a ball or strike, BacKstop is five-foot wide and four-foot tall inflatable catcher that features a strike zone backed by a net ⏤ if the pitch doesn’t end up in the net, it’s not a strike. The patented system is designed for use with Wiffle balls and other hardball substitutes.
NSG Jr. Boxing Set
Because it’s better that your future Mayweather smack around this inflatable punching bag than their little brother, the portable NSG Jr. is ready to rumble in three easy steps. First, fill the base with water or sand for stability. Second, adjust the shaft to the proper height. Third, inflate the bag with the included pump. That’s it. From there, you just need to teach them how to throw a jab-cross combo.
Designed to maximize power and distance while simultaneously sounding like a Nick Jr. friendly rapper, Callaway’s junior clubs sport an increased hosel offset. This helps young golfers square the face on impact — a recipe for greater accuracy. This set of seven clubs, available for both girls or boys, is designed to make mastering liftoff a snap, since the faster a young player stops whacking ground balls the higher the likelihood they’ll stick with the sport.
The Blast Baseball 360 Hitting Solution
The silicone Blast sensor easily mounts on the bottom of any baseball bat and uses motion-capture technology to dispense a novella’s worth of data on every swing, from bat and hand speed to the angle of attack. It pairs to a smartphone app and, in addition to simply generating raw data, also provides drills and training tips to help take your future Jose Altuve to the next level.
This fully marked inflatable backyard soccer field measures 26-feet long by 14-feet wide and includes a high-powered pump that can reportedly have the game kicking off in under two minutes. It’s recommended for kids ages three to eight ⏤ although reviewers say it’s better designed for games of toddler 2-on-2 ⏤ and comes equipped with two goals and inflatable rails so the ball always stays in play. Consider springing for an inflatable trophy to award to the winning squad.
ShotTracker’s a Klay Thompson-endorsed wearable that tracks basketball shot attempts, makes, and misses, as well as coaches kids up with elite-level drills and workouts. A wristband sensor worn by the player tracks shot attempts and position on the court while a second sensor in the net records whether the ball actually goes in. It’s all recorded on an accompanying phone app.
Rest assured, Redmon’s whimsical yet fully functional line of cardio and kiddie circuit training equipment including a treadmill, rower, and 2.5-pound foam dumbells appear more geared for mimicking parental behavior and short-term play than for use in, say, a 45-minute full body workout.
Hockey’s equivalent of a pitching machine, this automatic puck feeder auto fires two-inch foam balls across the garage floor so your young Sidney Crosby can work on receiving passes, ball control, or blasting one-timers. It uses C batteries, comes with six balls (but can hold 10), and is also available in a bigger/more powerful size for older kids.
While the ball has to be stationary when struck to record data — so high flying bicycle kicks and hard-won slide tackles won’t compute — there is still plenty of deep soccer wisdom to be garnered from Adidas’ miCoach. The sensor-laden ball is an excellent tool for honing kick speed, spin, and flight path, three ingredients that when masterfully combined can lead to one finding the back of the net more often than not.
Franklin Sports Go Pro Youth Football Goal Post Set
For parents worried about letting their kids play football, kicker is the position with the lowest probability of getting hurt. It can’t hurt to steer them in that direction early. These 6’4″ miniature PVC uprights come with a pint-sized football and a kicking tee. Just remember, laces out!
Garmin Vivo Fit Jr. 2 Activity Tracker—First Order
Is there a better way to get kids excited about exercise than by slapping a Star Wars fitness tracker on their wrist? Yeah, but the First Order Vivo Fit Jr. 2 isn’t a bad place to start considering it comes with app adventures that feature characters from the movies. Like adult trackers, the wearable keeps tabs on both steps and sleep, and is even ready for the pool come summertime. A unique feature is the Toe-to-Toe Step challenge where kids can compete against each other in a two-minute step battle.
More than any old football, this next-level pigskin is loaded with sensors (accelerometer and gyrometer) that can generate reams of statistics, including completed passes, distance thrown, and spiral efficiency. It pairs via Bluetooth to a smartphone app (worn like a QB playcalling wristband) that also bridges the world of real and virtual play by offering a variety of game and practice modes that track stats and pit users against a virtual squad of competitors. The battery inside is non-rechargeable but is reputedly good for 200,000 throws, or enough to gauge whether you’re looking at a future QB1 under the those Friday night lights.
Mobile gaming meets old-fashioned IRL play with the Impossible Gameball. This connected playground ball syncs with users phones to keep score for myriad games designed to get kids moving like “Skyscraper,” a vertical limit challenge, or “Jostle” a clever take on keep-away. Kids can play solo or with friends, and when the Gameball runs low on juice, no need to break for a snack ⏤ the rapid charger can get it back in action with just a 20-second pit stop.
Lifetime 1221 Pro Court Height-Adjustable Portable Basketball
An adjustable hoop that grows with kids, the Lifetime 1221 features a telescoping post that slides between 7.5 and 10 feet — no tools required. It has a 27-gallon base for water, sand, and stability, but also sports wheels so you can move it around the cul-de-sac for a neighborhood pickup game.