Ask Unclutterer: Storing sports equipment

Reader Jesse submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:

Do you have any suggestions for outdoor storage of sports equipment. We have a variety of balls, frisbees, and discs that right now just get put into an open bucket. It’s not great for the equipment and doesn’t look great either. Any suggestions?

Sporting equipment is rarely simple to store. Your bucket idea actually sounds better than most of the equipment storage I’ve seen people using in their garages. But, I agree, it can be an unsightly solution. Since things like bats and balls have rigid sizes, they take up a lot of space and they always seem to be in places they don’t belong.

My first choice is to recommend that you create an area in your garage or backyard to be your sports center. If you can make this space in your garage, I recommend a sturdy storage system that can hold more than just sports equipment. Elfa and Ikea both make excellent products for holding pretty much anything you would store in your garage. (Be sure to check out the components individually. Ikea’s Broder has sports attachments.)

If you’re not in favor of putting out the money for a full system, here are some additional options for your sports center:

  • Ball Claws: They attach to your walls and hold onto basketballs, soccer balls, and footballs.
  • Frisbees and discs can be stored in a nice bag on a shelf in the garage. I like this Prostyle bag, for instance.
  • You can use a baseball and bat storage system over fence tops or on a rod, like this holder:
  • A large barrel might also be nice to let air circulate around your sports equipment.

I’m interested in hearing from our readership on this question. What do you use to store sports equipment in your home? Let us know your solutions in the comments.

Thank you, Jesse, for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column.

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25 Comments for “Ask Unclutterer: Storing sports equipment”

  1. posted by Courtney on

    Great use of shelving and storage bins to organize your garage. I got some really helpful ball claws to help organize my sporting equipment in my basement at The Shelving Store! I use one of the ball claws to display my autographed basketball!

  2. posted by acidcloud on

    This looks so awesome. I try to convince my parents to throw away some junk they have but they simply will not listen. I can’t wait to get my own place and make it look great like this, to show them how its done.

  3. posted by Wendy on

    I wonder if you or any of your readers have a good suggestion for storing bicycles. We’re trying to store 4-6 bikes at a time (2 parents, 2 kids, dad sometimes keeps an extra beater bike around, kids are transitioning between bikes). Right now, we keep the bikes in the shed, but I want to keep outdoor stuff (gardening, toys, sports stuff) there. Having to reach past the bikes is very difficult. I want a storage area just for bikes, but I’m not sure I want to install a whole new shed. Ideas?

  4. posted by scott on

    GAH! The way they have the sleeping bags stored in the top picture is horrible! The rolled up one isn’t so bad but the other two are. Leaving your bag all compressed like that breaks down the insulation over time, shortens its life, and makes it less warm and comfortable for when you need it. That is the reason sleeping bags get all lumpy.

    A good tip for storing sleeping bags is to put them in an oversize cotton bag where they can breathe and aren’t compressed. Don’t roll them either as re-using the same creases over and over and over will also damage the bag. Just plop it in a large cotton bag. It takes more room, but it will extend the life and comfort of your product.

  5. posted by Rue on

    @Wendy: Not sure how much space you have in your garage (or, this idea might work in your shed). But there are hooks that you can get to put on the ceiling of your garage that you can hang bikes on. Something like this (though if you Google “bicycle hook” you can find a bunch of different ones. That would prevent you from having to get a whole new place for the bikes, but it might be a pain if your kids aren’t old enough to get their own bikes down.

    Those ball claws are really neat – I’ve never seen them before!

    As to the original question, I really don’t know a better way to store things…when my brother and I were little, we too had a big barrel that we threw everything into. I think that, while maybe not very uncluttered looking, is good if you have younger kids who won’t take the time to put the stuff away in its proper place.

  6. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Wendy — We’ve written about bicycle storage a few times on the site. Just do a search for “bicycle” in our search function.

  7. posted by greg on

    The bag you have for frisbees and discs may not be tall enough to store a “traditional” frisbee. That bag is made for the sport of disc golf and the discs used for it are typically a smaller diameter than the standard throw it in the backyard frisbee.

  8. posted by shahnnen on

    I play competitive ultimate frisbee, and consequently, i have many discs. (20+) I store them in an old plastic filing box, which happens to be the right size to store them like files, and i can just ‘flip’ through them, like they are records in a record store–so i can find the one i want. A bag doesn’t make much sense, for my purposes anyway.

  9. posted by FupDuckTV on

    @Wendy – I’ve always used ceiling hooks or wall hooks for bikes. I’ve never had to deal with that many at one time though.

    The ball claws are pretty cool. Do they have volleyball sizes?

  10. posted by Celeste on

    I store balls in one of those collapsible mesh laundry totes and keep them on a shelf in the garage. I think the tote cost about $4 but I can’t remember where I bought it. I like that it has handles on it so we can just grab and go to the yard or a park. I have another one just for water/beach toys; it’s nice because air can circulate to help them dry quickly if we put things away wet.

    I love the idea of the ball claw but only for a ball you will always be using, like a basketball if you have a hoop. I wouldn’t want to buy one for every kind of ball we have because we only have one child who is not a committed athlete.

  11. posted by the milliner on

    If you have a lot of med & large balls (basketball, volleyball, exercise ball, etc.) you can rig up a net above your head, and leave the shelf space/floor space for something else. Just toss the balls up into the net and to get them out, just push them out from below (you can use a stick or any stick-like sports equipment you have around to make it easier).

  12. posted by Scott James on

    We have *alot* of sports balls around the house, given that’s my primary business (we have the world’s first line of eco-certified Fair Trade sports balls). While my wife is very patient with all the product “samples” we have around the house and garage, these are some great ideas to help me organize them!

    In particular, I like Celeste’s mesh laundry tote idea for when our team travels to tradeshows, and Milliner’s overhead netting idea for my own garage. I’ve got some netting left over after creating a vegetable garden trellis; going to rig this up tonight. Many thanks!

    – Scott James
    Fair Trade Sports

  13. posted by momofthree on

    We use old laundry baskets on a free standing old shelf unit to hold all the balls we have. To store all our camping equipment, we use up to NINE of those folding crates.
    We have two cars and a 1 and 1/2 garage. We use every square inch for storage…bikes are the biggest, most awkward things to store.

  14. posted by Bella on

    I use a large , lidded plastic tote (hard sided ‘action packers’, with the red handles that lock on the top are best/most durable)for misc sporting gear. The camping stuff goes in a green tote, the sporty bike accessory and frisbee/ball type stuff in a blue tote, and I know they make clear plastic lidded totes with wheels now, too. You can print out a checklist and tape it to the front for each one, if you want to make an inventory (http://printablechecklist.org/). They’re cheap, stack easily, hold a lot, are durable, and can be re-purposed or mailed eventually too.
    I second the sleeping bag comment and would like to add not to store inflatable camping mattresses like that either, I guess unless you only use them once a year and aren’t worried about longevity. I tend to buy quality stuff that lasts, though.

  15. posted by Springpeeper on

    While the shelves shown are beautiful, keep firmly in mind that the photo is entirely STAGED by the makers of the shelving. All the objects on them are new and clean. Also, they show only a few of the objects you would need for a particular activity (for instance, they have sleeping bags and a stove/lantern for camping, but not much else.) They’ve carefully left out all the messy bits.

    This is not what a REAL person’s belongings would ever look like. Ever.

  16. posted by Cyrano on

    Ball Claws = Cool idea
    Ball Claws = Scariest Name for a Product, Ever.

  17. posted by Tracy on

    If you cannot spend the money for the fancy shelving unit, keep an eye out at garage sales for media storage shelves….the open kind that do not have doors and have slanted shelves meant for upright storage of VHS tapes and DVD’s are perfect for storing sports balls.

  18. posted by Michelle on

    Three of our four boys play football and when they get home from practice, their equipment gets put in a wire mesh basket. If I were to store it in a closed container, the stench would become overwhelming. We need the air circulation. At the end of season, any equipment we are keeping gets febreezed and put into closed containers with a few sheets of bounce. Any equipment that we won’t be using the next season gets taken to Goodwill immediately. With seven kids, I can’t afford to have any clutter around.

  19. posted by Tanya on

    I used a new trash can in the backyard for all those frequently used little toys and balls. The toddler riding toys, balls, bats, frisbees, sand box toys, toys cars and misc pack around items. Get a light colored trash can so you can see whats in the bottom. Usually just dump the can out when the kids go out and pick up everything before going in.
    I also use a trash can for extra hoses, hose connectors, sprinklers and small gardening tools.
    For our trash we have the square containers from the garbage hauler so don’t need to worry about throwing away the toys accidentally.

  20. posted by kg on

    Great tips. I wondering about scooter storage. I find that to be one of the most awkward things to store as they’re always wanting to fall down. Thanks for any tips you can give me.

  21. posted by Fonze on

    Alternative: don’t do any sports that require equipment.

  22. posted by John Kurcheski on

    I love hearing all of your comments about my product the BALLCLAW… Thank you Unclutter.com for post it! Best of luck! John

  23. posted by Stephanie on

    Love the idea about the ball claw.
    On the other hand, I used to be a tennis player so I own about 15 tennis racquets. I can’t seem to find a way to organize/store my racquets in the garage. Any help is appreciated.

  24. posted by Alan on

    Great use of shelving and storage bins to organize your garage. I got some really helpful ball claws to help organize my sporting equipment in my basement at The Shelving Store! I use one of the ball claws to display my autographed basketball!

  25. posted by Lauren on

    I am looking for ideas on how to store large sports equipment. We have a backyard soccer goal and a football/basebail trainer (here are links for the products: http://www.toystogrowon.com/sku139 and http://www.hearthsong.com/prod.....pcode=9016). These were such a colossal pain to put together (specifically the soccer goal), we don’t want to take them apart every year. They are not particularly heavy, just really bulky and taking up a lot of floor space. We’ve considered using hooks to hang them from the ceiling, but considering their size, I worry that they will hang too low to be able to park a minivan underneath. Anyone have any ideas? Thanks!

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