Sports equipment in the home seems to have a tendency to grow, insidiously. Shoes are the primary culprits; new shoes come in and old shoes are thrown to the back of the cupboard. Children outgrow shoes and they also find their way to the back of the cupboard.
Balls also add up; especially tennis balls, but also cricket, rugby, and soccer balls. Shin pads, knee pads, elbow braces … the list goes on. The burning question is what to do with it all? Three answers:
- Throw out anything that’s too worn or broken to be used again.
- Donate serviceable equipment. There are sports-related charities that help kids participate in sports by providing the necessary clothing and equipment.
- Store it
Seasonal sports equipment can be stored at a storage facility, but some sports, like tennis, can be played all-year round. You need to store this equipment at home but you need it out of the way. We’re going to look at some storage ideas for your house and garage, as well as some ideas for self-storage units.
Before you start, you should check to see if the equipment came with storage instructions, and then obviously follow those.
- Bikes: Remove lights and other attachable items (odometer). Clean it and oil chains and cables.
- Skis: Wax the skis to prevent rust
- Balls: Store balls in mesh bags so the material can breathe.
Even taking the instructions into account, you can likely follow the tips below.
For a start, get rid of the shoes you don’t wear anymore. Give them a jolly good clean if you’re going to donate them. Put the broken and badly worn shoes in the bin. Get a shoe rack and try to stay organised by dedicating each row (or two or three rows if necessary) to a sport.
You could use a bin or tub to store seasonal sports shoes, but there is a very real danger that the jumble will get out of control. You can almost bet that one shoe in a pair will sink to the bottom while the other will float on top.
Go with the rack; not only does it help you stay organised but it takes up less room than a tub.
If the balls are deflatable, deflate them. A flat ball takes up less space than a fully inflated one. And, they don’t roll around so you don’t have to follow a ball that has escaped its place. If they come in a container, like tennis balls, keep them in the container. It saves space and you don’t have to hunt around to find all the balls you need, potentially tossing other equipment around in your search, creating more chaos.
The big stuff
If it can be disassembled, do so. Garden football nets, for example, can be disassembled and stored in a convenient out-of-the-way place, perhaps even in a storage unit.
You want to store equipment safely to keep it in good nick while not in use. Safety also applies to young children who could get hurt if equipment is not secure. For example, three bicycles leaning against each other and against some unstable boxes could easily fall on a child who accidentally bumps them. They could also fall against your car, leaving scratches and, if you’re unlucky, a dent.
Instead, if you can securely install some hooks on the walls and ceiling, you can hang the bikes safely out of reach, while saving floor space. You can store bikes, skateboards, skis, fishing rods, and similar items in the same way.
Store heavy items on the floor. This ensures they can’t fall on anyone and so serious bodily damage. If the heavy items could roll around and become a hazard store them in a locker or box.
Cover equipment to keep it clean and dust-free when not in use. Don’t use plastic; it creates a bit of a damp, humid environment which can warp equipment or cause it to rust. Towels and sheets are handy. You can also get proper dust covers to protect your equipment. If you’re going to pack your belongings in boxes, cushion them with a towel, sheet, or blanket first.
Don’t leave the boxes directly on the garage floor. Many garages are prone to leaks and flooding in heavy rain and you don’t want your equipment ruined.
Bits and bobs
Plastic storage bins are great for bits and bobs, like shin and knee pads, cleats, helmets, and socks. Store like with like and label bins. Clean everything before you pack it away. A helmet with sweaty pads is going to give off quite a stink after a few months in an enclosed bin. It’s the same with safety pads. Clean cleats of grass and mud.
The bins can be stored in the garage or against your bedroom wall, or you can pop it in a storage unit.
Storage unit tips
Many of the usual storage safety tips apply. For example, examine the equipment to see if it needs repair and then get it repaired before storing it.
Draw up an inventory of all the items to be stored and draw a basic map of the unit so you know where you’ve packed different sports kits.
Pack heavy equipment (dumbbells, weights) at the back and try to keep the equipment you use most rarely (hiking tent and sleeping bags) at the back too. You don’t want to heave heavy boxes or containers aside to reach your squash racquet and you don’t want to spend ages trying to rummage around tent to find your golf bag.
A final word
It’s (relatively) easy to start off your storage mission with good intentions. Sticking to the system is trickier, especially if you have active kids who find it easy to toss equipment for one sport in the cupboard while reaching for the next kit.
Set an example by keeping to your system and it will be easier to convince your kids of the wisdom of keeping to theirs.