indoor volleyball
Are you picking up a new sport this summer? Take stock of what you have and then complete the missing items from our list. Image Credit: Pexels/Pavel Danilyuk

The easiest way to work up a sweat is probably engaging in your favourite sport. Don't let the allure of air-conditioned indoors pull you back to the couch, this summer. Despite the warm weather, you can still kick around a ball and shoot a hoop under perfectly reasonable conditions, thanks to indoor sports facilities.

If you're enrolling your kids or yourself over the holidays, make sure you have all the gear you'll need in the duffle bag. Gulf News spoke to United Pro Sports, a Dubai-based indoor sports centre, about the essentials most people tend to overlook.

"Several sports have their own clubs and academies in the UAE, so children can definitely continue their activities indoors, over the summer," said Manish Kishore, the managing director at U-Pro Dubai, who adds that football, cricket and basketball seem to be the most popular choices for kids and adults, alike.

You could also consider individual sports, such as tennis and badminton, which don't require a team for one-on-one coaching. These make picking up a second or third sport outside of school much easier.

Now, let's talk equipment. This is largely determined by the sport you choose. Kishore says most multi-sport facilities do provide balls, but for everything else, from racquets to protective gear, it's advisable that we bring our own. In the case of children, especially, they'll prefer sports equipment suitable for them in terms of size and weight.

Once on the court, players commonly forget two important items, notes Kishore: "We see kids and adults go hours without drinking water - ample hydration throughout the day is crucial, even indoors. Towels are also often ignored, and they end up sweating a lot with nothing to wipe away and cool down."

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Browse more items recommended by our expert below, featuring activity trackers and agility ladders, to ensure a smooth session indoors. Shop with Amazon Prime to get sports-ready as soon as today, with free, fast delivery, and get the items at a discount.

1. Best Sports Watch: Amazfit T-Rex Pro Smart Watch

Pros

  • Over 100 sports modes, with calorie count
  • Passed 15 military-grade tests for durability
  • Sweat-wicking straps
  • Water-resistant in up to 100 metres
  • Fast-charging with up to 18 days of battery life

Cons

  • Can be bulky on smaller wrists

Sports smartwatches might just be the motivational boost you need on the court. Kishore says activity trackers will help you monitor your performance and push you to set and meet targets, which, in turn, can make the player feel more accomplished. "It's the first thing parents should look into getting their kids, so that they're able to track their activities and see how long they've played for. Clubbing technology and sports the right away can help them get off the couch," he added. Our best sports watch of 2023 is worth considering, since it's specifically designed to track over 100 sports, like basketball, badminton and cricket, unlike fitness trackers that are limited to workouts. It's a rugged watch that's been through 15 military-grade tests, and while it looks bulky, the gadget weighs only 60 grams! The skin-friendly silicone straps will wick away any moisture when the wrists get sweaty. Its 18-day battery will outlast most of your electronics, and this is probably what makes the watch a great companion on outdoor adventures as well. For a slimmer, child-friendly build, try our fitness tracker picks.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh23 and a two-year extended warranty for Dh38.

2. Best At-Home Activity: SKLZ Speed and Agility Ladder

Coaching at indoor sports facilities usually involves agility ladders and cones, shares Kishore. "Parents can explore these options for the house to help kids stay as flexible as possible. They'll want them to maintain a certain level of agility, despite staying indoors. Agility cones and ladders can be a very fun, engaging family activity, too," he said. SKLZ's quick ladder is put to use by athletes and amateurs, alike, for improving their lateral speed, balance and body control. The 11 heavy-duty plastic rungs can be paired with cones to create obstacles in drills. Kishore advises timing the completion of each drill as a way of tracking progress. You could engage in these exercises daily alone or with the whole family. Several football coaches and physical education teachers leave five stars on the durabilty and portability of the ladder.

Warranty: The manufacturer offers a one-year warranty.

3. Best Footwear: Asics Upcourt 5 Men's Sneaker

Pros

  • Midsole support to help with quick directional changes
  • Good rubber grip on court
  • Reviewers play tennis, badminton, volleyball and more in these
  • Don't make the feet sweaty

Cons

  • Toe box can be roomier than expected, say reviews

Every sport brings with it its own footwear, from studs in football to grippy soles in basketball. Kishore urges players to pick the right shoes, as they can singlehandedly impact learning and comfort. While we cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach with sports shoes, this pair by Asics can work with most games played on the court. The Upcourt 5 shoe is lightweight, breathable and supportive during sudden, multi-directional movements, thanks to the midfoot panels. Its rubber sole is made to grip indoor fields and pitches. Buyers have worn it to boxing, table tennis, badminton, volleyball and more, noting how they help with changing directions quickly. For women's sizes, find the Upcourt 5 listing here.

4. Best Gym Towel: Aurora Athletica Luxury Gym Towel

The ideal sweat-dabbing towel would be odour-controlled, not too big, and absorbent even on the second day. Aurora Athletica's gym towel offers all of this and more. It's made from 100 per cent organic cotton, to protect your skin, and infused with silver ions for longer-lasting freshness. The absolute perk here is that the towel doesn't need daily washing to keep it from smelling, so it's ready to support your games day after day. Reviewers have embarked on intense Peleton and cardio workouts, with the towel absorbing the day's sweat and drying quickly right after.

5. Best Water Bottle: Qyal 1.5L Water Bottle

Qyal's large-capacity sports water bottle will save you refill trips at the sports centre. The 1.5-litre bottle is made from odour-free, recyclable PETG (polyethylene terephthalate glycol) and has a see-through body that lets you keep an eye on your water intake. Its 6cm-wide mouth is large enough for ice cubes, while the leak-proof lid and flip cover make sure no amount of sloshing will spill any contents. The best part? You can sip your water through the long straw quickly between sessions. Reviewers find the capacity perfect for their daily workout needs.

6. Best Sports Duffle: Under Armour Unisex Undeniable 5.0 Duffle Bag

Choose Under Armour's water-repellent, durable duffle for storing all your sports essentials. Coming in various sizes, the Undeniable bag goes up to a whopping 58 litres, but we've picked the smallest duffle with a shoulder strap, and it's perfect for hitting indoor arenas that already have the equipment you need. Even at 23 litres, the bag is spacious enough to feature a separate pocket for sweaty laundry and shoes. Reviewers attest to this, saying that they were able to fit far more than they had expected.

7. Best Shin Guards: G-Form Men's Pro-S Compact Shin Guard (Pack of 1)

Reduce any risk of injury with protective gear that's meant for your sport. As Kishore mentions, personal protective equipment may not be given out at facilities. We've gone for a pair of shin guards, which are usually worn when playing football, baseball or cricket. These football shin pads by G-Form offer sizes for adults and children, and don't slip mid-game because they're worn like sleeves. The SmartFlex technology in the pads absorbs shock and hardens on impact, otherwise, they remain flexible throughout. Do note that the pads run small, so order a size up. Parents in the reviews mention happy kids who find the guards stylish and comfortable, but warn that they can be difficult to take off from sweaty skin.

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.