Every year it becomes increasingly obvious that soccer is America’s youth sport of choice. So, with the holiday season approaching, we thought it would be a good time to go over what may be this season’s top gift for America’s youngest athletes, the soccer goal.
Increased competition and reduced supply costs in this market have made what was once an expensive and unlikely choice for a soccer gift into an ideal one. But with so much competition in the soccer goal market, choosing the right goal for your needs had become more difficult than ever. With that in mind we are publishing this three part blog about finding and choosing the perfect soccer goal for your soccer player. This first part will go over choosing the correct class of soccer goal. The second part covers choosing the correct size for your needs and the final part will go over picking an ideal model. So without further ado, we bring you part one.
Choosing a Soccer Goal Class
The first thing to know when choosing a soccer goal style is what classes there are to choose from. While each manufacturer and some distributors of soccer goals have their own names for these soccer goal types, there are actually only five soccer goal classes; tent/pop-up goals, PVC/training goals, flat/rebounder goals, portable goals and permanent goals. Each has its advantages and disadvantages and prices vary significantly, even within class.
With the advent of the PUGG Soccer Goal a whole new concept for soccer goal training came into view. Basically the idea that PUGG brought to market was that a practice goal did not need to have a traditional frame, it just needed to catch the balls that were shot at it. Since then several other companies have run with the idea of making a goal out of a tent, the most popular (aside from the PUGG) at present is probably the Bownet Soccer Goal.
Since they are basically tents with a net, they are very light and therefore the safest soccer goals on the market. They also fold and/or disassemble to a very tiny size making them easy to move around and store. This also makes them relatively inexpensive.
Again, since they are basically tents with a net, they do not give an honest soccer game bounce off of the frame and they do not last very long. Certainly not as long as a traditional portable or permanent goal. Also, these goals do not give off the same soccer field impression as a more traditional metal goal.
Why to Choose this Goal Class
This is the goal to choose if you do not have space at home to play, but you have a park nearby. It is also a great choice for a soccer coach or trainer, or for the dad who wants to coach his kids between practices.
Before the pop-up and tent goals, there were training goals. Most of them are made of PVC, though some of the larger manufacturers offer these goals in steel or aluminum models. These goals have a more classic square frame than the PUGG, and most can fold and/or be disassembled for portability. This can be a dangerous class to shop in, because it includes a lot of cheap and breakable models. A safe rule for this class is, if it costs less than $75.00 there is probably a reason.
Because these goals have an actual frame, they can give a real game bounce and feel off of the post. They are never larger than 8′ Wide and 4′ High so they are lightweight, safe and easy to store. Many of them fold and a few models even change sizes, which can make for a lot of fun at practice or when playing. The good ones will generally last longer than tent/pop-ups.
While these goals are portable and light, they take up a lot more space than a tent/pop-up goal. They also don’t assemble or “Pop-Up” as fast. The inexpensive ones will break very quickly.
Why to Choose This Class
This type of goal is great for the coach who wants a goal that changes size, or for a young player with a smaller backyard who wants to leave the goal outside all summer long.
Rebounder soccer goals were created for coaches who wanted to have players shoot on both sides of a goal. They are flat, with tight nets that bounce the ball back to the player. They are generally made with steel or aluminum frames and aside from the fact that they are flat, they react and create “off the post” bounces that are similar to that of a traditional soccer goal.
Rebounder goals take up very little space (in terms of depth) on a soccer field or backyard, so they can fit in more back yards than a traditional soccer goal. The bounce back action that a ball takes off of a rebounder goal can also be very useful when practicing and honing skills. Both sides can take soccer shots at the same time.
They are not quite as safe as any of the other goals as they generally require stakes or anchors just to stand up. The ball always bounces back, so it is not a traditional goal.
Why to Choose This Class
If you have a soccer player who is constantly beating a soccer ball against the house wall, this is a nice replacement to save that wall. Great for coaches who train many teams or teams with lots of players.
Portable Soccer Goals
Portable soccer goals were created for soccer leagues that did not have their own soccer field (which is most leagues). They are traditional soccer goals with traditional frames. The only basic difference between these goals and the permanent ones are that they can be moved. Within the class of portable soccer goals there are many sub-classes, but those will be discussed in another article as they would only add confusion to this topic. What is important to note here is that prices vary in regards to these goals greatly, though price is not always an indication of quality. That being stated, if a portable soccer goal is greater than 5′ high by 10′ wide and costs less than $100.00, it is probably not going to last you very long.
Aside from that rule, the important points to note when picking a worthy portable soccer goal are safety, and quality of materials. As a general rule, you want materials to be thicker than 1/8th of an inch or .125 wall as that gives enough metal for lasting welds. Materials should also be 2″ in width or greater as that prevents bowing in the crossbar and gives a more accurate bounce.
These goals are used by both amateur and professional leagues and teams, so they look and act just as a soccer goal should. They are much sturdier than any of the previously mentioned soccer goals so they will last closer to 10 years as opposed to one or so.
These goals are made of aluminum or steel and will therefore weigh more than a pop-up or PVC goal. This aspect also makes them more dangerous if un-anchored, especially the steel options.
Why to Choose This Class
This class of goal is meant for leagues, but individuals can and should choose these goals if they are looking for an option that can be left up in their fair sized yard all year round. Also, for the player or coach who wants to play on an actual soccer goal and get the bounce and feel of a real game, this is an ideal option. Basically, for a sturdy, lasting realistic soccer feel on the go, choose a portable goal, for a less expensive, quick and light goal, choose a tent/pop-up.
Permanent Soccer Goals
The original soccer goals were put in place and left there, hence the name, permanent soccer goals. They are what you see on TV and at competitive high school, college and pro level matches. Most are painted white, look gorgeous and are built to last for a long, long time.
They look great, last a long time and can weather the weather. Most have 4″ Round metal tube which is perfect if you are looking for a professional quality bounce off of the posts, they are generally built so that they are very difficult to move or pull over, so that makes them a safe option.
They are expensive. For a full sized 8′ x 24′ permanent goal expect to pay $1000.00 or more. They don’t move, you can often drag or roll them around the field, but if you want to move them to a completely different location, they will need to be uninstalled and reinstalled.
Why to Choose This Class
If you have plenty of space, available cash and don’t plan on moving in the next five or so years, do not buy anything else. These goals are the top of the heap, the best of the best. You can feel like Messi while you take shots at a pro style goal from 30 yards out. This is the goal style that everyone wants, but for the reasons described earlier, cannot have.