For the Driveway, Backyard, and More:
Sports Training Equipment for Students of All Ages
By Logan McCullough
It’s that season again. Football season. Baseball season. Hockey season. Lacrosse season. No matter the sport your son or daughter plays, it always seems as if something new is needed each year—maybe because they’ve outgrown what they have or perhaps they’ve switched sports. Shoulder pads, shin guards, cleats, skates, not to mention bats and sticks and gloves of all sorts.
But what about during the off-season? Your child needs to keep up their skills. Many parents aren’t aware of the practice and skills training equipment available—and those that are may not know which brands are best and which are the most affordable.
I bugged many fellow parents to bring you the following list of sports training equipment for elementary school, high school, and college students. These items may seem off the beaten path for some; for others, this list might help them decide which brand to purchase.
According to the parents I spoke with, steady practice during the off-season frequently results in less injuries and better overall performances, so make room in your backyard, garage, driveway, or front lawn for some new equipment and make room on your shelves for that next trophy! (These items can also be used during the season to get a leg up on the competition!)
Premium Lacrosse Rebounder by Lacrosse Scoop
To start, almost every lacrosse parent recommended Lacrosse Scoop’s rebounder. Some highlighted its durability and adjustable tension (for optimum bounce back), while others liked the easy set up—under an hour by most reports. (A few people I surveyed noted that adjusting the bungee cords takes some getting used to.) Almost everyone mentioned Lacrosse Scoop’s solid customer service, and many found their 100% guarantee comforting, since not everything is for everybody.
- The rebounder has a 25 foot surface area.
- It is 4’ wide and 6.5’ tall.
- It has 5 different angles for bounce back, allowing for better throwing and catching practice, since the player has to adjust their position for the return.
- The frame is adjustable, which provides different rebound angles.
- You can adjust the bungee cords to increase the bounce back action for different skill levels.
- In general, parents found that the rebounder was as sturdy in the backyard as it was in the driveway.
- While it does not fold in half, it does fold down somewhat, which helps with storage. If you’re leaving it outside, a few parents purchased a tarp to throw over it to protect the rebounder from the elements.
Freestanding Heavy Bag for Boxing and Kickboxing by Dripex
Whereas traditional heavy bags are hung from the ceiling, this is a freestanding bag. No matter your students’ sport, staying in shape is essential and requires extra work outside of practice time. Using the Dripex Heavy Bag is an excellent alternative workout for students involved in most any sport (not just boxing or martial arts). The Dripex offers a thorough workout that focuses not only on strength-building but also agility and stamina. This bag was recommended by parents with kids involved in football, soccer, crew, field hockey, and more.
- Stands approximately 68” tall.
- The Dripex can be used in any room of the house. You don’t have to attach it to the ceiling or ban it to the garage. (It is fairly quiet with 360° shock absorption springs.)
- You have to fill the base with water or sand to weigh it down. (Sand is recommended.)
- To further ensure that the bag stays in place while your student punches and kicks it, there are 12 strong suction cups on the bottom of the base.
- The Dripex offers a fast-rebound to keep your kids on their toes!
- The bag is made of an “eco-friendly buffer” with “high-density” foam and a 2mm-thickened leather “striking surface.” The tube is stainless steel encased in layered material.
- The bag is tear-resistant and easy to clean between workouts.
- A few parents had tried freestanding bags from other manufacturers. But while a couple of other brands got high marks, they all turned to the Dripex, mainly because of its stability and suction cups.
PowerNet Football QB Pass Accuracy Trainer
The beauty of this quarterback passing trainer is its five pockets, representing the shoulders, the chest, and the waist. A perfect pass lands in one of the pocket baskets. The PowerNet football pass accuracy trainer sets up in minutes. The seams are sturdy, as is the frame; it won’t easily tip over. Most football parents I know preferred PowerNet over other similar pass accuracy trainers. Some of their reasons are in the list below.
- The PowerNet Accuracy Trainer is excellent for passing drills and helps increase accuracy.
- Easy setup that doesn’t require any tools.
- The net covers 64 square feet.
- The frame is durable, made with flexible fiberglass. The base and the corner joints are steel.
- The net is made of “sturdy knotless polyester,” thus it is long-lasting.
- This passing trainer is super-portable. The whole thing can be collapsed. A handy shoulder bag with straps is included.
- This can be used outside (rain or shine) or inside (in a garage or basement, for instance).
- Ground stakes are included.
- Your child can practice solo with the PowerNet Accuracy Trainer.
- The five passing pockets have reinforced edges, meaning they are made for long-term use (or abuse).
- The flip side can be used for kicking practice (kickoff, blocking punt, and field goal training).
- Comes with a 1 year warranty.
Street Hockey Folding Pro Goal with Backstop and Targets by EZGoal
This is the ultimate street hockey net. It easily folds up flat for storage, which, for most hockey parents, was a godsend—anything to make a little more room in sheds, garages, and basements. This net is not just for street hockey enthusiasts; it is a great practice goal for those ice rats who want to hone their shots when ice time isn’t available.
- There are four corner targets with mini-nets to catch the puck.
- The net is regulation size: 72” wide, 48” high, so the goalies in your life can grab some extra practice time too. (Standard street hockey nets aren’t regulation size.)
- All the parents loved the folding backstops that not only eliminated the need for their kids to chase after wide shots on the street but also saved their garage doors from getting dinged. As their logo says, “Shoot more, chase less, train better with EZGoal.”
- The backstops are removable for game play.
- The backstops (and the net itself) act as rebounders, which enhances practice time.
- “Curved pro-style frame and top shelf.”
- The 2 inch thick, heavy-gauge steel frame can withstand shots up to 75 mph per hour.
- The 5mm netting is UV-protected and most parents agreed that it “won’t deteriorate if left out in the elements,” as noted in the copy.
- Easy set-up. No tools required.
SKLZ Quickster Soccer Trainer
Most of the soccer parents I spoke to recommended the SKLZ Soccer Trainer because of its focus on passing and volleys. It is set up for solo use, but could easily be adapted if a friend came over. The SKLZ Trainer is actually 2 nets: 4 feet by 6 feet, and 6 feet by 20 inches. These nets (connected together) help your daughter or son practice rebounds, not just on the ground, but in the air. Parents said the set up took no time at all, and some told me that it was very easy to breakdown and transport. (It weighs 13.2 pounds.)
- The SKLZ Soccer Trainer has a multi touch rebound, which helps players prepare to “settle faster” with not just their feet, but also their thighs and chest.
- Also, it helps to improve accuracy, endurance, and readiness.
- Using the trainer is an excellent way to practice volleys and half-volleys.
- The trainer has True Roll Action, which allows players to focus on precision through repetition.
- Parents thought the True Roll rebound action was a great way for their kids to work on passing and receiving, as well as improving their control of the ball with what SKLZ calls their “head to toe technique.”
- The trainer can be turned around, so that the player just uses the larger net for practicing high kicks and returns.
Pro Battle Rope with Anchor Strap Kit by Profect Sports
Wrestling parents are a unique group. As one wrestling mom said to me, “On the weekend, I get to cheer my son, as he participates in hand-to-hand combat wearing pajamas.” Through this mom, I met other wrestling parents and during numerous conversations about how their child could keep fit during the off-season, quite a few of them spoke about the battle rope. These parents believed that the battle rope was an effective workout for their child’s arms, legs, shoulders, back, torso, and abs, preparing them for another tournament or season. They also believed the cardio conditioning was an excellent way to burn off the fat all year round.
- The kit has a 100% Poly-Dacron heavy battle rope for “strength training, cardio workout, crossfit,” and more.
- The rope is available in different diameters and lengths.
- The set includes a Duramax protective rope sleeve—“Ultra Durable Construction that won’t fray or wear” even on rough surfaces like concrete.
- Also includes 2 “extreme tensile strength” anchor straps and a stainless steel carabiner.
- The kit has heavy duty handles, good for any grip and available in two sizes: 1.5” and 2”.
- The rope has a “non-slip” design, preventing slip as well as excessive wear.
- Pro Battle Rope offers a workout with “effective strength training and aerobic endurance” through a variety of exercise routines.
- Easy and quick set up. It can be used indoors or out.
- 100% money back guarantee!
Skate Anytime: Synthetic Ice for Hockey—Skateable Artificial Ice Tiles—Starter Kit
Having grown up in a hockey family, I know how hard it can be to get some ice time for your daughter or son to practice on their own or with friends and teammates. Usually, we just ended up in the driveway playing street hockey. Well, folks, the hockey parents I know (and I know quite a few) almost all recommended synthetic ice tiles, particularly those from Skate Anytime. The interlocking panels are “specifically designed and engineered” for skating with hockey skates or figure skates. You can create practice “ice” on any hard surface: garages, basements, driveways, decks and more. It doesn’t replace practicing on actual ice, but when ice time is precious, skateable synthetic ice tiles are a worthy and durable substitute all year round.
- Practice edge work, stops, puck & stick handling, backwards skating, and shooting on a surface that simulates skating on ice.
- The starter kit includes 8 synthetic ice panels. Each panel measures 15.25” x 30.75” (383mm x 777mm).
- The starter kit, as a whole, measures 56.75” x 60” or 24 square feet.
- The 3 lb panels are 3/8” or 10mm thick.
- You can buy additional synthetic ice panels to expand the practice area.
- Easy to assemble and does not require any additional add-ons to start using. Extremely lightweight. Easy to store.
- Skate Anytime claims that their synthetic ice tiles are gentler on blades than products from their competitors.
- It can be used by children and adults.
- 5-year manufacturer guarantee.
Louisville Slugger Pitching Machine
The baseball parents I spoke to were sharply divided on the relative merits of various pitching machines, but all of them agreed that the Louisville Slugger gave them the most bang for their buck. In fact, most of them admitted that the bells and whistles available on much more expensive models by other brands were often superfluous. The Louisville Slugger pitching machine has everything a young player needs and more. While there are bargain basement pitching machines that will suffice in a pinch, the quality and the price makes the Louisville Slugger the best value.
- The machine can be set up to throw strikes, grounders, and fly balls.
- It can be used for a variety of practice drills plus it can aid in working on “proper swing mechanics.”
- The pitching machine can even be used in games with younger players.
- Weighs less than 25 lbs.
- The Louisville Slugger is “extremely accurate” and throws a level pitch.
- Great for both baseballs and softballs! Also throws soccer and volley balls, as well as Wiffle and dimple balls.
- Easy to adjust speed controls: 18 to 45 mph for baseballs and 60 mph for lighter balls.
- The pitching machine throws softballs up to a 12 inch arc.
- The Louisville Slugger does not require electricity or batteries— it is completely manual, so it does require someone to operate the machine.
SKLZ Hit-A-Way Portable Baseball Swing Trainer
Some baseball parents swore by this swing trainer station (with stand). Designed to improve hand-eye coordination and batting strength, the Hit-A-Way also focuses on timing and improves confidence. Through muscle memory, the player builds a rhythm and develops a better, more effective swing. The Hit-A-Way folds up and can be moved easily, even brought to the field for team practice.
- The SKLZ Hit-A-Way has an extremely sturdy pole and a “twist back design” that help players with many of the important aspects of hitting, including timing, strength, rhythm, and coordination.
- This swing trainer can be used by right- or left-handed players.
- Adjustable pitch height.
- Helps refine a player’s swing and builds batting muscles.
- NO more chasing the ball—get up to 500 swings per hour!
- For softball players, there’s the Hit-A-Way Softball Swing Trainer!
Speed and Agility Kit—Training Equipment for all Sports by A1 1N Sports
Quite a few parents touted this training kit from A1 1N Sports. They believed (as did their children) that the kit improved not only their speed, agility, and footwork, but also their coordination and balance control. A1 designed this set so that it can be used by young people participating in a variety of sports (track, soccer, football, field hockey, wrestling, basketball, and more). They can hone their footwork with the agility ladder, maneuver a ball around the disc cones, or jump the hurdles—just three of the many possible exercises. A1’s training kit focuses on a number of skills that could have many different applications.
- Easy to set up and extremely durable.
- The Speed and Agility Kit includes:
o 1 agility ladder
o 12 disc cones
o 1 speed parachute
o 4 adjustable hurdles
- Designed to cover every aspect of your child’s game—whatever their game is.
- The items can be used in various combinations. Your child can create their own drills!
- The agility ladder has 8 rungs and is 13.45’ long.
- The speed chute works on speed, endurance, and strength. According to A1, their speed chute is made with “compact polyester and a nylon webbing belt” to increase resistance.
- Returns accepted, no questions asked, within the first 60 days.
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