Young children playing outside

Your Back to School Essential Checklist

Thinking about what sport clothing and equipment your child needs for their return to school?

It’s that time of year again! As children have returned to school, it's time to think about how we can help them stay active. As we all know, lockdown had a significant impact on youth activity levels that's why it's important that we work towards correcting this as soon as possible. Statistics show that exercise amongst kids aged 7-11 has dropped by 23% and even more so with older kids with a 33.6% drop, which is usually the age where they are most likely to be getting involved in organised or team sports. The beginning of the new school term is a great time for correcting this issue, as it is estimated that 91% of children will start at least one new sport or activity, the most popular of these being swimming, football and running.

So what do your little ones really need to get back up and going? At the start of each school year, Parents on average spend £52 on clothing and sports equipment per child, and while your kids need a kit to be able to exercise safely and effectively, for many families, it’s important to not be spending too much on the wrong items. In this checklist, we will give you a rundown of the essential items that should be in your children’s games bag, along with some easy options to get your search started.

Standard PE Kit

Whether your kids are currently involved in organised sport or not, PE lessons are a standard part of the national curriculum. This kit will be mainly for non contact activities such as running and using gym equipment, so in general look for breathable clothing and material that is easy to move. So not only are your children required to have these items, it will also be an excellent base layer on active play, and could potentially lead to other sports.

It is important to note that some schools are very specific on colours for PE Kit. Before you buy, make sure the kit works with the school requirements.

T-Shirt: One needed
Polo Shirts: One needed
Shorts or Skorts: Two pairs needed
Trainers: One pair needed
Tracksuit: One needed
Swimming Costumes: One pair needed
One Games bag: One needed

Two young kids exercising

Contact sports kit

While PE kit can be a variation of different types of clothing, this is where it gets important to get it right. Finding the correct protective clothing for contact sports such as mouthguards, shin pads and boots with the correct specified studs are vital to both your child’s involvement and enjoyment in the sport. They do however have different safety essentials, and it’s worth investigating the differences. Luckily for you, we’ve got them all right here, plus that little bit more.


Mouthguard: At least 2 needed - You can either go to a dentist and have one professionally fitted, or buy a moldable one and do it with your child at home and follow these steps. For more information on Mouthguards, why not check out our PLAY article on Mouthguards.
Boots with rugby studs: One pair needed - A rugby stud should usually be made of rubber or a metal such as aluminium. It is not longer than 21mm, at least 10mm across at the end and with no burrs or sharp edges.Our recommended items
Shin pads: (Not an essential piece of protective gear, but your kids may feel better wearing them early on. Being kicked in the shin isn’t a nice feeling, whatever the sport).

Two kids playing rugby outside

Our recommended items

Find everything you need to get your little one started with school rugby in our rugby protection selection.


Football boots: One pair needed - The type of studs will often depend on what surface you’re playing on. For more information on this, it’s worth reading the second section in our ‘What Kit Do I Need to Start Playing Football’ article. However moulded studs are often the way to go.

Shin pads: One pair needed- Unlike with rugby, these are a school football essential. As it’s a game that involves tackling where shins are in the firing line, it’s very likely these will come into action a number of times during the game. There is a wide range of different kinds of shin pads, some that also protect the ankle.

Goalkeeper's gloves: One pair needed - This is of course only if your child is (or has plans to become) a goalkeeper. These are probably worth trying before you buy.

Our recommended items

Whether it’s shin pads, goalie gloves or football boots, we’ve got what your child needs to feel safe and comfortable whilst playing the beautiful game.

Kids playing football indoors


Shin pads: One pair needed - Much like football, there is a strong chance (especially as a beginner) your little ones may get a hockey stick or ball across the ankles whilst out on the field. This can hurt a lot, so it makes sense for them to strap on a pair of shin pads before they head out onto the field.

Mouthguard: Much like the shin pads, hockey is a game where getting caught with a stick or ball can hurt a lot. Make sure your little one is wearing a mouthguard.

Left hand glove: While this is an essential for those regularly playing hockey, it may not be as essential for those just starting out. But do make sure to purchase one once your kids start playing proper games.

Hockey Mask: Again, only if they show a keen interest in the sport and want to be part of a team or play regularly. It is possible that the school will supply them, but with the way the world is now, it’s probably wise for your kids to have their own.

Young boy playing hockey outside

Warm weather essentials

In terms of clothing, many of your child’s sport summer essentials will be similar to their PE kit, so it might be worth doubling up when it comes to purchasing. However there are essentials that are worth picking up to make sure your children stay protected out in the sun.

T-Shirt: One needed
Polo Shirts: One needed
Shorts or Skorts: Two pairs needed
Sports socks: - Two pairs needed
Trainers: One pair needed
Hat/Cap :One needed.
Sweatband (for wrist or head): Not essential but can be useful if your child sweats a lot.

If your child is interested in Cricket, find out what they need to start playing.

Cold weather essentials

Although many schools will go for indoor sports during the winter months, if your child is playing any contact based outdoor sports such as football, rugby or hockey, they’ll need apparel that can handle the colder conditions.

Jersey: At least one needed - Material will depend on the sport your child is playing. If in doubt, go for a cotton jersey.

Shorts: At least one pair needed. Again the material will depend on what sport it is for. If it’s for rugby, go for cotton, if it’s football, a nylon/polyester blend will do nicely.

Long socks. At least one pair was needed. Made from Polyamide and cotton, these socks work across a number of winter sports.

Tracksuit top: Not as essential but certainly a nice to have during colder games sessions.

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