If you’ve got kids who play sports, then you probably have lots of balls, pads, helmets, uniforms and other equipment that needs to be organized and stored.

While you want to make sure that the gear doesn’t take over your home, you also want to eliminate the stress of walking out the door and finding out that Johnny can’t find his mouth guard or jersey.

So where do you put all of the gear – especially if you have multiple kids playing multiple sports?

1. Create a Central Location.

“The garage obviously is going to be an easy choice,” said Liana George, owner of Houston-based By George Organizing Solutions. Other options are a “‘launch pad area’ that’s near your main entry/exit door, or the laundry room, which will probably have tile and be good for dirty or dusty items.”

A controlled location is important because when you’re trying to get to practice and everybody’s asking, “Where’s this and where’s that?” you won’t end up running around to five different spots, George said.

2.  Designate Individual Bags for Each Child.

Each child should have their own personalized duffle bag or backpack that’s set in your launch pad, laundry room or garage, George recommended. Backpacks work well because they can be hung and are off of the floor. Make sure the duffle bag or backpack has compartments for uniforms/socks, a water bottle, shin guards, a mouth guard and even a spare house key.

3. Encourage Your Kids to Put Dirty Clothes in the Laundry.

“If kids can remember to take off their jerseys and dirty soccer socks and put them in the mudroom or laundry room before they go up to their rooms, that will solve a lot of issues,” said Allo Perry Piller, NEAT Method’s licensed Denver home organizer. Don’t let these items get to the kids’ rooms—or other parts of the house—and become scattered.

Also, since most kids have cell phones, Esmi Gonzalez, owner of  Sort It Out in San Antonio, Texas, tells moms to tell their kids to put a reminder on their phones (in Google Calendar) two days before they need their jersey/socks, etc. That way, “their uniform is clean for Saturday’s game.”

4. Kids’ Lockers Are an Efficient Way to Go.

“Lockers are super cute or they have built-in cubbies for the garage or laundry room, so it makes it easier for each child to have their own space,” George said. Otherwise, “You can just use a laundry basket and label it with each child’s name and put all of their clean sports socks and uniforms into designated baskets.”

The baskets can stay in the laundry room (again, so items don’t get scattered) until you, or preferably your child, puts their gear back into their backpack or duffle bag.

5. Don’t Leave Balls Lying Around the House.

“If you step on a tennis ball or golf ball, your ankle is gone,” George said. “We definitely want to take safety into consideration.”

In the garage, you can store balls using ball claws on the walls. They’re cool because there’s one to fit any size ball, and they’re easy to install.

You can also use hanging laundry bags or mesh bags to corral balls, which you could hang on a pegboard or anchor it to the garage wall, George said. (Pegboards allow you to arrange and rearrange sports equipment easily).

Also, bungee cords hooked on a square frame allow kids to grab balls easily. Mesh baskets also work well. Small items like tennis balls and hockey pucks can be stored in clear plastic bins, Piller said.

6. Store Larger Items on Pegboards in the Garage.

For items like baseball bats, tennis rackets, hockey sticks, golf clubs, and lacrosse sticks, if you must keep bigger items inside the house, George said a tall trash bin works well.

“It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it needs to be something that will not be falling over,” George said. “Clear works best so you can see what’s in there.”

7.  Install Helmet Hooks.

“You can do hooks on the wall in the garage or hooks on a freestanding mesh stand. Just make sure they’re easy to reach for kids, so they can put them back every time they’re finished,” Piller said.

In fact, Piller said make sure that all equipment is easily accessible for kids.

8. Try a Sports Storage Rack.

You can use a sports storage rack to store balls and gear, and they have hooks to hang baseball bats or rackets and gloves, jerseys, etc.  Or here’s a do-it-yourself project from Designed to Dwell.

9. Use a Shoe Rack for Footwear.

Keep cleats and skates right outside the door or in your laundry room or garage, so they’re easy to grab and go, George said. “And it makes it easier for them to air out.”

10.  Use Air-tight Trucks For the Off-Season.

For out-of-season gear, Gonzalez recommends storing items in air-tight trunks in an attic or basement. Or jerseys and other smaller items can be stored in under-bed storage containers until the next season.

“Those with the wheels are easy to pull in and out for kids,” she added.

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Liz Wolf