If you are a volunteer soccer coach, you've probably seen it all: the soccer uniforms you ordered not coming on time, uniform replacements taking ages to arrive, and children wailing because their uniforms don't fit. Don't worry, you are not alone - even professional soccer team organizers have their share of uniform-related nightmares.
Luckily, there are a few simple guidelines that may help you avoid soccer uniform catastrophes. Read on to see how you can effectively organize time, save money, get the right sizes, and have everything up and running by the big soccer game day.
The early bird gets the worm. Start registration as early as you possibly can. Parents tend to dilly-dally when it comes to signing their kids up for soccer teams, so be stern and enforce your deadlines. The sooner you find out how many kids need soccer uniforms and what their sizes are, the sooner you will be able to place your orders in the store or manufacturer, and the lesser the chances of your uniforms coming in late.
Yes, size matters. Ill-fitting soccer uniforms not only make your team look frumpy; it may also affect their performance, and their parents will probably hate you for making their kids look homeless. So follow a standard sizing pattern - classify kids into small, medium, large, and extra large (if there are any). Always have extra jerseys, in every size, or if your budget is limited, in the medium to large sizes (they will most likely fit any additional player who decides to show up at the last minute).
Do your research. Ask other coaches or uniform committee heads to refer you to vendors they trust: those who can personally guide you through the whole nitty-gritty and oftentimes confusing process. You can also get great deals on soccer uniforms if you are referred by a prior customer with whom the vendor has good business relations.
You generally have two options when choosing a sportswear store: you order from established brands, or you can commission smaller manufacturers. Each one has its own pros and cons.
Ordering from famous brands ensures you of quality and durability, which is good if your team intends to use the soccer uniforms for a long time. They also have a wider selection and a lot of styles, and even carry other soccer apparel like referee uniforms. You might have to spend a little more when buying these branded football apparel, but because the products are guaranteed to last, you will save money in the long run.
There is, however, a downside: big manufacturers are usually not as responsive to order changes. These companies probably import their uniforms from the countries they hire to manufacture them, and they usually cannot bend their import schedule to accommodate your sudden changes in quantity or sizing. Also, since the soccer uniforms have to travel from another country or at least from another state, it might take longer to get replacements should you need them.
You will probably not have the same problem is you order from smaller manufacturers, as they are generally more flexible and can accommodate reasonable requests from your end. But before you sign a contract, make sure that the manufacturer has a good, clean record, and that you actually know someone who has successfully done business with them before. The quality and durability of soccer uniforms from such smaller manufacturers is not necessarily inferior to their branded counterparts. If anything, your soccer uniforms may come out looking more personalized and detail-perfect - something big, mass-produced brands cannot guarantee.
Finally, breathe. Relax. The experience of buying soccer uniforms need not be stressful if you get an early start and find a good store. Do not fuss about little details like missing socks or sudden stains. There's no sense in missing the fun in little league soccer just because you worry too much.