- Aerobic steps: Look for a step that is
stable, solid and has good traction on top. Steps that
are designed to be stacked also need to be very stable
when stacked. Aerobic steps can be used for
cardiorespiratory or resistance training. Make sure that when
you step on and off of the step it does not slide or rock. If
it does it can be very dangerous and may result in
an ankle or leg injury. Many steps now come with
video tapes for you to exercise along with at home. A good
step will cost from $60-140.
- Badminton racquets: Normally constructed
of light metal, wood, or carbon fiber, a regulation
racquet can be up to 27 inches long and can have a head
no wider than 9 inches and no longer than 11
inches. Racquets normally cost $8-50.
- Baseball bats: Baseball bats are made
from hard wood, aluminum, or other light metals.
They must have a smooth finish on the hitting area.
The maximum length is 3 feet 6 inches and the
maximum width is 2.75 inches. The grip portion may be
covered with tape, pine tar, foam, or other coverings to
improve a player's grip. Bats range in price from $15-100.
- Baseball gloves: Made from top quality
leather, baseball mitts come in many different styles but
the three major types of gloves are infield, outfield,
and catcher's. Infield mitts have much smaller baskets
than outfield gloves. Catcher's mitts are heavily padded
to protect the catcher's hand from hard pitches.
Mitts come in both right and left handed models.
Players normally wear their baseball mitt on their
non-dominant hand. A good baseball mitt will cost
anywhere from $40-150.
- Batting gloves: Most gloves are made of
leather or synthetic materials and have velcro® closures.
Batting gloves improve a player's grip on the bat.
They range in price from $7-25.
- Bicycles: If you really want to get into
cycling, go to a bicycle shop to purchase your new bike.
The selection should be wider, the quality higher, and
the sales staff more knowledgeable than in a store
which does not specialize in bicycles. There are three
basic types of bicycles: touring, racing, and bmx.
Touring bicycles are the most common type. They have
heavy frames and durable tires. Touring bikes offer a
nice, smooth ride. Racing bikes have light-weight
frames and tires which are built for speed. Racing frames
and tires are not as durable as those found on touring
bikes and the ride is much rougher. Bmx bikes are
designed for off-road use and stunts. They have
heavy-duty tires, wheels, and frames. Most bmx bikes have a
rough ride on the road because of their heavy-duty
tires. Recently, "mountain bikes" have become
popular. These bikes offer a mixture of the comfort of a
touring bike and the durability and ruggedness of a bmx
bike. Many of these bikes are suitable for both on and
off-road use. When selecting a bicycle, make sure that it
fits you properly. When standing on the ground and
straddling the bicycle, the top tube on the frame should
be one inch below your crotch. The saddle, or seat,
should be well-padded and fit your bottom properly.
Women, because of a naturally larger pelvis, and larger
men may need wider seats. When purchasing tires for any
bike other than a racing bike, look for durable,
puncture-resistant tires. Any cyclist who wishes to
perform his best should use toe clips to fasten his feet to
the pedals. Toe clips allow you to transmit the power
from your feet to the pedals more efficiently. All
cyclists should wear a high-quality cycling helmet for
safety. Cyclists should also wear brightly colored or
reflective clothing so they can be seen more easily by
motorists, other cyclists, and pedestrians. Quality bicycles
cost $130 and up.
- Chin-up/pull-up bar: These can either
be incorporated on weight machines (they are often
found on multi-units) or can be separate wall or door
mounted units. When purchasing the latter type, make sure
that it is designed to hold the amount of weight you will
be putting on it. When installing a pull-up bar in
your home make certain that all of the fastenings are
secure and that the unit is firmly anchored in the wall or
fixed in the doorway. This type of pull-up bar can be
purchased for $20-200.
- Cross-country skis: Narrow and
lightweight compared to downhill skis, cross-country skis have
a binding which fastens a skier's toe to the ski, but
allows the heel to be raised. It is very important to wax
cross-country skis regularly for optimum performance.
Make sure that you get skis that are the proper length. A
good ski shop will be able to help you with proper sizing.
- Cycling helmets: Cycling helmets have
been shown to reduce the risk of head injury by 85%,
so always wear a helmet while cycling. Look for a
high quality cycling model that is approved by the
American National Standard Institute (ANSI) or the
Snell Memorial Foundation. Fit is very important. A
properly fitting helmet should touch the head on the
front, back, sides, and crown or top. It should also have a
chin strap that holds it securely in place. A good
cycling helmet will cost $30-200.
- Downhill skis: Most skis are now made
from synthetic materials, which have largely replaced
wood and metal. Many downhill, or alpine, skis have
metal edges though. Ski length varies according to the
height, weight, skill level, and personal preferences of a
skier. A good ski shop should be able to help you select a
pair of skis that will be suitable for you. Downhill skis
range in price from $180-600.
- Field hockey sticks: These rounded
wooden sticks are shaped like an L. The head has one flat
side which is used to strike the ball. These sticks
weigh between 12-28 ounces. At no point can the diameter
of a stick be wider than 2 inches. Sticks range in price
- Golf clubs: When selecting a set of golf clubs
it is important to get a set that fits your body and suits
your swing. In order to play your best golf, club
length, clubhead angle, clubhead style, grip size, and
shaft type are all variables that may need to be adjusted.
In general, unless you play frequently, you should
probably buy perimeter weighted irons, woods, and
putters. These clubs are much more forgiving on off-center
hits. Golf club shafts are normally made of steel.
However, today there are many new shafts on the market
made from materials like graphite, boron, and titanium.
These shafts are usually very expensive and can be
extremely flexible or stiff. Whenever possible, try out a set
of demonstration clubs before buying a new set of
golf clubs. Demos are available at many golf pro shops
and discount golf stores. It is always a good idea to
consult a golf professional about which clubs would be best
for you. A decent set of irons will cost $270 and up and
a decent set of woods will cost $180 and up. A
good putter will cost $30 and up.
- Golf gloves: Made from top grade leather,
most golf gloves have adjustable velcro® closures on
the back of the hand for optimum fit. These gloves
improve a golfer's grip on the golf club and help
prevent blisters. They are normally worn on a golfer's
non-dominant hand (a right handed golfer will wear
a glove on his left hand and vice-versa). After use, it
is important to spread the glove out flat and allow it
to dry in this manner. This will prolong the life of
your glove and keep it softer longer. A good golf glove
will cost $10-20.
- Handball gloves: Handball gloves are
extremely important pieces of equipment which cushion
and protect the hands during play. Most gloves are made
of leather or other soft materials and are a light
color. Additional padding such as gauze or athletic tape
can be worn beneath the gloves for comfort and protection.
- Ice hockey sticks: These are made from
wood or hard plastics. They are normally up to 4.5 feet
in length and the face of the stick is up to 1 foot long,
2.5 inches wide and 3 inches high. For recreational play
it is a good idea to pick hockey sticks made from
shatter-resistant materials such as hard plastic or rubber
for safety and durability.
- Ice skates: High quality skates that fit
well should not hurt your ankles. Pick skates which
have boots made from top grade leather and that have
rigid soles to hold screws. The upper should have a
full lining and a padded tongue. Many people
require skates that are one-half to one full size smaller
than their shoe size. Skates will be more comfortable
and durable if you waterproof all of the leather surfaces.
It is a good idea to use skate guards to protect your
blades and to prevent injuries.
- In-line skates: Originally developed to help
train hockey players in the off-season, in-line
skates (commonly known as "Rollerblades®") are sort of
a cross between ski boots and ice skate boots with
three to five rubber wheels fastened on the bottoms
one behind the other or "in-line." When selecting a pair
of in-line skates, make sure they fit your foot
properly and have sides that are rigid enough to provide
ample ankle support. Knee pads, elbow pads, gloves,
wrist supports, and helmets are all recommended pieces
of equipment because of the high speeds which can
be achieved by these skates, sometimes exceeding 30
mph. In-line skates cost $80-300.
- Jump ropes: Rope jumping is great
cardiorespiratory exercise and can also improve foot speed.
Ropes with swivel or ball-bearing handles are best
because they keep the rope from getting twisted as it turns.
The "rope" portion can be made from leather, plastic,
rubber, or rope. Thin rubber, leather, or plastic ropes
are best for speed work. It is important to get an
adjustable jump rope or one that fits you. A rope that is too
short or too long can be very difficult and frustrating to
use. New "heavy" ropes are available that weigh a lot
more than conventional jump ropes. They give the
upper body and arm muscles a better workout, though it
may be difficult to use one of these weighted jump ropes
for very long. A good jump rope will cost $8-70.
- Knee boards: A knee board is a wedge
shaped piece of water sports equipment upon which a
rider kneels. When it is pulled behind a boat it will plane
on the surface of the water. Knee boards have a piece
of foam rubber on top to cushion the rider's knees and
a velcro® strap that goes over the legs to secure the
rider to the board. Some knee boards have fins on the
bottom to provide better stability and tracking. When
selecting a knee board, make sure the board has plenty of
good padding for the knees, feet, and legs. Also, make
sure the knee strap has enough velcro® on it to keep
it securely fastened. These products are not
recommended for persons with knee problems. Knee boards range
in price from $80-250.
- Lacrosse sticks: Lacrosse sticks are
composed of a long, thin handle with a "basket" on one end
in which to catch, hold, and throw a ball. The handles
of these sticks are made from metal, hard plastic, or
other synthetic materials. Sticks range from 36-72 inches
in length and their baskets can be from 4-10 inches
wide. The goaltender's basket may be up to 15 inches
wide. Sticks range in price from $20-100.
- Racquetball racquets: Racquetball
racquets are constructed of aluminum, graphite, fiberglass,
and a variety of other materials. Make sure the grip
fits your hand properly and that it has a wrist strap or
cord on the end of it to fasten it to your wrist. Racquets with
larger heads are now available. They have a
larger "sweet spot" and allow you to reach the ball
more easily. A good racquetball racquet can be
purchased for $20 and up.
- Softball bats: Softball bats are made of
hard wood, aluminum, or other metals. They normally
are 34 inches in length. Softball bats have grips made
from foam, tape, or other materials to improve a hitter's
grip and to reduce the likelihood of a bat
accidentally leaving a player's hands. A good softball bat will
- Stretching mats: These products provide
a cushioned surface on which to stretch or exercise.
Mats that are washable, lightweight, and durable are best.
A good quality personal stretching mat will cost $20-80.
- Squash racquets: Squash racquets are
similar to racquetball racquets but they have longer,
thinner necks and a smaller hitting area. A normal
squash racquet is 27 inches in length and 8.33 inches wide
at the widest point on the face of the racquet.
Squash racquets cost $50-125.
- Table tennis
paddles: Table tennis paddles are almost always made of wood. Most paddles
are constructed of several thin layers of wood. On a
regulation table tennis paddle, the blade must be flat,
rigid, and of even thickness. Both sides of the paddle
must also be of a uniform dark color, although the two
sides may be different colors. The hitting area on a
paddle can be covered with a piece of pimpled rubber not
to exceed 2 mm in thickness or a sandwich of smooth
and pimpled rubber not to exceed 4 mm in thickness.
Some players use sand paper coverings. All of these
materials allow a player to generate spin on the ball.
Choosing a paddle is largely a matter of personal preference,
so try out a variety of paddles to see which one you
like best. Table tennis paddles can be purchased for $4
- Tennis racquets: Most modern racquets
are made from a combination of materials including
fiberglass, graphite, boron, ceramics, plastic, and
aluminum. The hitting surface is covered with
interwoven strings which are made of cat gut or a
synthetic material. Make sure to get the proper grip
size. Employees at a tennis shop will be able to
help you determine which size you need. There are
basically three different sizes of racquet
mid-size, and oversized. An oversized racquet has
a larger hitting area and is probably better for
people who do not play very much tennis or who play a lot
of doubles. One of the newest innovations in
tennis racquets is the "widebody." A widebody racquet has
a thicker frame and can generate considerably more power than conventional width racquets. One
drawback of the widebody is that it may not be as
accurate or as consistent as a conventional racquet. Before
purchasing a new racquet, it is recommended that you
try it out a couple of times first. Many sporting
goods stores and tennis pro shops offer
demonstration racquets at no charge or for a minimal fee. Good
quality tennis racquets range in price from $25-300.
- Trampolines: Trampolines can be a fun way
to keep fit. However, they can be quite dangerous
and often require a fairly large amount of space. Make
sure that any metal frames are well-padded, and that
there are no sharp hooks, springs, or other fasteners
which are exposed.
- Water skis: Water skis were made of
wood originally, but most now are made from a
combination of light-weight, space age materials. The two
most common types of water skis are combination skis
and slalom skis. Combination skis are sold in sets of
two. They normally have adjustable foot bindings on
both skis; while one ski also has a toe slip for slalom
skiing. Combination skis are good to start out with. They
can accommodate a lot of different sizes of people and
are usually fairly easy to get up on and to control
when skiing. The second most common type of water ski
is the slalom ski. A slalom ski is a single ski with a
boot and a toe slip or another boot right behind it. These
skis allow faster cutting and better performance.
However, they are harder to get up on and to control.
Slalom skiing also causes the arms to tire much more
quickly than skiing with combination skis. When purchasing
a water ski for yourself, it is important to select one
that is designed for your skill level, weight, and shoe
size. If you are a beginner, don't buy a ski designed for
a professional or advanced skier because it will be
extremely hard to control and will probably be a lot
less fun for you than one designed for a beginning
or intermediate level skier. A quality set of
combination skis will range from $130-350 and a good slalom
ski will cost anywhere from $200-600.
Types of Athletic Balls
- Baseballs: A baseball has a cork core which
is wound with yarn and encased in two pieces of
white leather which are stitched together. Baseballs are
3 inches in diameter and weigh from 5-5.5 ounces.
The best balls are made with leather covers, but synthetic
leather and rubber is also used. These materials
are more durable, especially in wet playing conditions.
A good baseball will cost $3-7.
- Basketballs: Basketballs are inflated rubber
bladders covered by leather cases. They measure 9.5
inches in diameter and 20-22 ounces in weight. Most
basketballs are a brown, tan or orange color. The best
quality balls have leather covers. However, these balls are
for indoor use only. They are not water-proof and
they will be torn up by outdoor court surfaces.
Synthetic leather, rubber, and other man-made materials are
also used for ball coverings. These materials are much
more durable for both indoor and outdoor play. A
good basketball can be purchased for $15-70.
- Bowling balls: Bowling balls can weigh
no more than 16 pounds. Most balls have a thumb
hole and two finger holes drilled in them. Bowling balls
are 8.5 inches in diameter. They are normally made
from hard rubber composites, urethane, or plastic.
When selecting a bowling ball, be sure to get the finger
holes drilled in the proper location. A bowling shop will
be able to help you with the proper sizing. Also,
make sure that you don't select a ball that is too heavy
for you. Older persons and women may need to use a lighter ball in order to achieve maximum control
and the highest scores.
- Field hockey
balls: These balls may be solid or hollow. They are normally white in color. Solid
balls often have cores made from rubber or cork. They
are then wrapped in twine and covered with
stitched leather or rubber. Field hockey balls are 3 inches
in diameter and weigh 5.5-5.75 ounces. They cost
- Footballs: Footballs are composed of an
inflated rubber bladder which is covered with reversed
seam, pebble grain leather. A football is shaped like an
oblong sphere with two pointed ends. A football has a
set of laces on it that can improve a player's grip and
make it easier to throw a spiral. A regulation
professional football is 11-11.25 inches long and weighs 14-15
ounces. Some less expensive footballs are covered by
synthetic leather or other man-made materials. A good
football will cost $20-80.
- Golf balls: A golf ball is a small, hard
sphere with a dimpled cover to improve distance and
accuracy. The maximum weight of a ball is 1.62 oz. and
the minimum diameter is 1.68 inches. They come in
different compressions, 90 and 100. The lower
compression ball may give the player a softer feel, but a little
less distance than the higher compression ball. There
are two main types of golf ball covers, balata and
surlyn®. Balata gives a softer feel and more spin, but cuts
more easily and yields less roll than a surlyn® covered ball.
Surlyn® is a harder, cut-proof material that offers
more roll, but less spin and a harder feel than a
balata covered ball. There are three basic types of ball
construction. The first type, the most common, has a
hard, solid core surrounded by a cut-proof surlyn®
cover. The second type, contains a liquid filled core
surrounded by rubber wrappings and encased in a
soft, balata cover. The third type of ball contains a hard
core surrounded by rubber windings and encased in
a surlyn® cover. Some balls are designed to follow
a higher trajectory and have more spin, while others
are designed to follow a lower trajectory and have
extra roll. Choose a ball that suits your game. Most
amateurs should probably choose a ball with a solid core and
a surlyn® cover. The standard golf ball is white,
although they are available in a wide variety of
colors including yellow and orange. A dozen golf balls
cost from $12-35.
- Handballs: A standard handball is made of
blue rubber and weighs 2.3 ounces. They measure
1.875 inches in diameter.
- Hockey pucks: Hockey pucks are normally
made from black, vulcanized rubber. They are shaped
like disks which measure 3 inches wide and 1 inch
high. They weigh 156-170 grams.
- Lacrosse balls: These are made from
solid rubber colored yellow, white, orange, or black.
They weigh between 5-5.25 ounces and are 2.5 inches
in diameter. Lacrosse balls cost $2-4 each.
- Racquet balls: Racquet balls are made
of hollow rubber. They are 2.25 inches in diameter
and weigh 1.4 ounces. Normally, they are blue or
black so they can be seen easily against the white walls
of a racquetball court. A can of two racquet balls
costs between $3-6.
- Shuttlecocks : The best shuttlecocks, also
known as badminton "birdies", are made with 16 real
feathers fixed in a cork base. There are also shuttlecocks
made from a combination of rubber, plastic, and other
synthetic materials. Weight varies from 4.74-5.50 grams.
A high-quality shuttlecock will cost $1-4.
- Soccer balls: Soccer balls are composed of
an inflated rubber bladder which is covered by a
leather, synthetic leather, or rubber cover with reversed
seams. The cover has a series of interlocking hexagon
and pentagon patterns. Regulation soccer balls are
8.875 inches in diameter and weigh 14-16 ounces.
When choosing a soccer ball for outdoor play, it is smart
to buy a waterproof or water-resistant ball. A
quality soccer ball will cost $25-80.
- Softballs: The core is made of kapok,
polyurethane, or cork and rubber. It is covered by two pieces
of white leather, synthetic leather, or rubber which
are stitched together using waxed thread. A softball
weighs 6.25-7 ounces and is 3.875 inches in diameter. The
cover on the best balls is leather, but rubber and
synthetic leather balls are more durable, especially in wet conditions.