Organize your Kids Sports Equipment in 4 Easy Steps
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Keeping a clean, organized garage when you have kids is tough. Keeping a clean, organized garage when you have kids who play sports is arguably tougher.
First of all, your garage probably resembles a used sporting goods store: buckets of balls, spare bats, a collection of outgrown cleats. Then you have all the bat bags, catcher’s gear bags, and ‘at home’ training equipment like tees and rebound nets – it can quickly become a disorganized mess.
Lack of organization creates stress. If you’ve ever been late to practice because your kid can’t find their hat, their belt, or the matching shoe in a pile of identical (but different sized) black cleats, then you know what I mean. Even though it seems impossible, you can create a garage that is clean, organized, and functional for your baseball family.
To get a handle on your kids’ sports equipment, follow these 4 easy steps.
Step 1: Set Goals
Decide how you want you and your kids to use the garage. Do you want them to get in the habit of taking their bat bag out of the car after games? Do you want them to remove and store their shoes in the garage, or do you have a separate mudroom? How much room do you have? Do you have room for every season’s equipment, or do you have a separate area (like a shed) where out of season equipment should be stored? How much room do you have for other items, like tools, bikes, garbage cans?
The answers to these questions will guide you on how to set up the space to your advantage, and also set goals for the space.
Examples of goals would be:
- Designated storage space for two bat bags and a catcher’s gear bag
- A shoe rack for dirty cleats
- Hooks for umbrellas, jackets, tote bags
- Bin storage for basketballs, soccer balls, etc.
- Storage for coolers
- Vertical storage for bikes
- Room for trash and recycling bins
Step 2: Declutter
Now that you’ve set some #goals for the space, it’s time to move on to the most painful step of any garage clean out – – decluttering.
Involve the family, and create 4 piles: Keep, Donate/Sell, Repair, Trash. Evaluate every piece of equipment for size, wear, and usefulness for your family’s current needs. After you’ve separated everything into piles, here are some ideas for the equipment that didn’t make the ‘Keep’ pile:
- Donate to a Charitable Organization. There are a number of charitable organizations that will take good condition sports equipment for donations to youth sports programs. For a list of recommended charitable organizations, check out this printable list.
- Donate to your League. Your League may have an equipment donation bin or swap program.
- Sell your equipment through a used sports equipment store like Play It Again Sports.
- Sell high dollar items like bats on Ebay.
- Hand down broken-in but good condition equipment to neighbors and extended family, especially if they’ll appreciate and use it (a perfectly worn glove is a great hand me down).
- Repair: While some equipment may not be worth repairing, gloves can be repaired. A quick internet search will bring up a surprising amount of baseball gear repair experts.
Step 3: Create a System
Now that you’ve figured out how you want your kids to use the space, and what you’re actually keeping, it’s time to put everything back, put everything into its place, then set up simple systems so that everything always goes back right where it belongs.
One of the easiest way to ‘create a system’ is to clearly designate a space where something, and only that ‘thing’, belongs. ‘Designated space’ could be anything from a laundry basket or old box that can now be used to store balls, to organization tools that are made specifically for sports equipment.
Some ideas for designated spaces that can support your new systems include
- Hooks for hats, jackets, bags
- A folding chair for removing cleats, with a shoe tree next to it for storage
- A designated space for bat bags
- A bat storage rack for extra bats
- A storage rack for coolers, etc.
- Nearby trash can and recycling bin for immediately disposing of bottles, wrappers, etc. after games
Step 3A: Support your systems with Organization tools
Since I’m a sucker for a good organization tool, here are some ideas I love to clearly designate space for baseball equipment:
Ball Storage: If you have enough balls in your garage to outfit a sporting goods store, you need a ball bin. The Mythinglogic Rolling Sports Ball Storage not only rolls, but it keeps balls from rolling out your garage next time you open the garage door.
Bat Storage: Store your kids’ expensive collection in this Store Your Board Bat Storage Rack with plenty of room for 14 bats, and hooks for storing gloves.
Cleats Storage: This 50 Pair Shoe Organizer is the same storage rack my family uses in our basement mudroom.
Catchers Gear/Bat Bags: If you’re not a fan of your kids dumping their catchers gear and bat bags in front of the garage door, use this Mythinglogic Golf Bag organizer to give them a new dumping group. Originally designed for golfers, I think this works perfectly for bulky bat bags and catchers gear bags.
One you have your designated spaces laid out, the system becomes obvious. The ‘system’ is simply to put items back into their designated spaces when not being used. Sounds easy enough, right? I know, half the battle is getting your family to actually use the system. If you need help getting your kids to put everything back, download and post this After Games and Practice Checklist in the garage.
Step 4: Use and Maintain
Now that you have a place for everything, and everything in its place, it’s important to enforce and maintain your system.
- Get your kids in the habit of always putting away their own equipment after games and practices. Here is a printable After Games and Practice Checklist that can help support the habit.
- Have your kids check load their own equipment in the car before games and practices. This helps enforce the idea of how important it is to always put everything back in the right place.
- Following a checklist gives your kids the added assurance that they didn’t miss anything when getting ready for practice or loading up their equipment. If you need a handy checklist, here is the one my kids use: Before Games and Practice Checklist.
- Get in the habit of decluttering outgrown equipment at the end of every sport season. Here is the Post Season Checklist my family uses at the end of every season.
Spring cleaning your garage and organizing your sports equipment doesn’t have to be stressful. Follow these 4 steps, and you can create a garage that is clean, organized, and functional for your family.