In the five short years our local league has existed, one of the stranger challenges we’ve faced is trying to keep our soccer goals anchored. Soccer goals can tip forward, and can severely injure or even kill players when the crossbar falls to the ground. The worst are the small 6′ x 4′ goals used for U5/U6 matches because at 4′ high, the crossbar just screams ‘hang on me’ and they don’t have much weight in back to stabilize them.
There are two common methods of anchoring goals to the ground. One is sandbags laid across the rear bar of the goal. The other method is to use anchors which are driven into the ground, hooked over the rear bar of the frame. We chose anchors because sand bags seemed like a hassle to cart on and off the field, plus once the kids realized what was inside of them, we figured they would open them all the time to create their own personal sandbox. Goal anchors come in a variety of styles, including L shaped hooks, U shaped hooks, screw style anchors, and even anchors that permanently stay in the ground and attach to the goal via a short chain.
Last year, in an effort to ensure we always had enough anchors for our goals, I purchased a box of 200 L shaped hook anchors for our 32 soccer goals. That was about double the number we actually needed since we use 2-3 anchors per goal. (except on our 24′ goals – we used 4 or 5) For some reason, our goal anchors had a nasty habit of disappearing. Sure enough, by the end of last season, the box of 200 anchors was gone and we were only able to find around 30 of them scattered around the complex near the goals.
Every time the goals got moved for mowing, anchors would get lost. Some would get caught up in the mowers, causing all sorts of problems for the mowers, as well as the hooks which were usually mangled beyond recognition. Other times bored kids would pull them up and drop them on the ground when bored. I still think we had gremlins running around grabbing hooks at night. Regardless of how they were disappearing, we never could keep the goals anchored and had to constantly run around with a bunch of anchors and a hammer, trying to anchor the goals. This was a weekly, if not daily, chore. The folks mowing the fields didn’t appreciate their blades being chewed up by metal pegs either. Clearly something had to be done.
The main problem was keeping the anchors with the goals. We talked with a local welding shop about welding short lengths of chain onto the steel hook anchors we were using. If we attached the chain to the rear bar, they’d stay with the goal so the only thing we’d have to do is hammer them back in if they got pulled out for whatever reason. The only problem was the combination of welding, chain, and quick-links to attach the chain to the goals was turning into a pretty expensive anchoring system. But we didn’t know what else we could do.
Not long after we had talked about the welded chain solution, I was flipping through a catalog from Fold-A-Goal and came across an economical heavy duty hook anchor ($2) that had an eyelet already attached to it. This would reduce the cost of welding a bit, but we were still looking at about $1-$1.50 for chain and at least $3-$4 for two quick-links to connect the chain to the goals and anchors. Plus quick-links aren’t permanent. We could tighten them up, but if they got loose, kids could undo the quick-links and remove the anchors from the goals. Then I happened to notice that wire rope (aircraft cable) was a LOT cheaper than chain per foot (less than half), and the ferrules used to make loops in wire rope were also inexpensive (about 45 cents each). This was Lowe’s pricing too – not from an industrial supply house. We didn’t need the strength of chain – just something durable that would keep the anchors attached to the goals when they were taken out of the ground.
I bought a spool of 3/32″ wire rope from Home Depot (on sale for 15 cents a foot), a ferrule crimping tool (about $25), a wire rope cutter ($34), and a bunch of ferrules (around 44 cents each). I also purchased some 1/2″ heat shrink tubing to cover the crimped ferrules which often had some sharp edges on them. After some experimentation, here’s what we came up with:
I didn’t shrink the last bit of tubing in the picture above simply so you could see the ferrule detail. So there you have it. For less than $4 per anchor, you can ensure you never lose your goal anchors again. Here’s what they look like when they’re installed on the goal.
You’ll notice that this one is in the center of the rear bar, threaded through the netting attached with cable ties. Instead of assembling the big loop ahead of time, we did it at the goal itself. But you could take a completed anchor, disconnect the rear bar of the goal with a hex wrench, and slip anchors on to each end. I haven’t seen anything like this for sale – I might just make up a batch and sell them pre-assembled.
We were very happy with how these turned out. This may seem like a ‘well duh’ obvious kind of thing. But for us, it was a very clean setup that required minimal effort since the eyelets were already welded. It’s definitely a two person job, as you need someone to hold the loops steady in the ferrule while another crimps it into place. But it’s not labor intensive – just tedious when you need to do 100 or so. We’ve got two on our 6′ wide goals, 3 on our 12′ and 18′ wide goals, and 4 on our full size 24′ goals. Hopefully we won’t lose any more goal anchors and all the field marshal will need to do on game days is run around with a hammer, banging in any anchors that came loose. This will also help ensure coaches anchor goals before practice. If they don’t have to hunt down more anchors – they can simply grab the hammer and pound the anchors in if needed.
One possible improvement for these might include using more expensive stainless steel wire rope if you have fields near the ocean.
I know, I know, an entire blog post on goal anchors is pretty sad. But I thought this was a pretty cool solution to a problem that can have very serious consequences. Clearly having the anchors loose wasn’t working and our goals weren’t staying anchored. Hopefully now they will.