(1) Pick A Zone
Begin by identifying and designating one zone – such as a corner of your garage, or a closet in your entryway – that will serve as the storage area for all of your sports equipment. Ideally this zone will be easily accessible in order to facilitate easy-come, easy-go use.
(2) Sort Into Categories
Next, walk around your entire home and gather up every single piece of sports equipment you own. Bring all of it to your new storage zone. Now, sort the items into the following six categories. As you sort, be sure to get rid of any equipment which is damaged or unsafe to use, or which is no longer relevant (your kids have outgrown it, you no longer play that sport, etc):
1. Long Things: bats, sticks, clubs, racquets, skis, sleds, fishing poles, etc.
2. Things That Go: balls, pucks, birdies, darts, kites, etc.
3. Protective Gear: baseball mitts, goggles, helmets, pads, mouth guards, etc.
4. Clothing: uniforms, hats, etc.
5. Footwear: cleats, rollerblades, skates, ski boots, etc.
6. Accessories: bike pumps, water bottles, fishing tackle, golf cart batteries, scuba tanks, etc.
(3) Add Structure
Now, take a close look at what you’re keeping. Take time to thoughtfully envision how much space each category will require in your storage zone, and how the categories might be optimally arranged within the space. Also consider the specific type of storage (within in a bin or basket? resting on a shelf? hanging on the wall?) that’s best suited for each category. If you don’t already have appropriate storage structures in place, now is the time to obtain and install them. Below are some storage systems I like, as well as specific strategies for each category.
Storage Systems We Like for Sports Equipment
1. Chrome shelving unit with pull-out bins, from Frontgate: http://www.frontgate.com/chrome-finished-sports-shelving/157335?listIndex=0&redirect=y
2. Elfa products for sports gear, from The Container Store: http://www.containerstore.com/shop/garage/sportsEquipment
3. Free-standing 4-bike rack: http://deltacycle.com/free-standing-4-bike-storage-rack?search=rack
Specific Storage Strategies for Each Category
Long Things: Store upright in an empty garbage can or other stable barrel/bin/container; hang them from hooks on a wall/pegboard; lay them flat on a shelf; lay them flat in a saddle/cradle suspended from the ceiling.
Things That Go: Store in a see-through wire basket of appropriate size (make sure the balls aren’t smaller than the mesh openings of the basket) or in open-front, stacking crates/cubbies. For larger balls like soccer, basketball, and footballs, mount on the wall in a Ball Claw - http://www.ballclaw.de/en/products/ball-claw
Protective Gear: Store in clear, plastic, latch-top totes (to help keep dust at bay), or in bins/baskets on shelves.
Clothing: Store in clear, plastic, latch-top totes (to help keep dust at bay), or in bins/baskets on shelves.
Footwear: Store directly on shelves, or in open-front, stacking crates/cubbies.
Accessories: Because accessories are so numerous and varied, it’s not possible to provide a generalized storage recommendation. Instead, let the physical attributes of each item (size, shape, weight, etc) serve as clues to help you find the best storage solution.
(4) Be A Good Steward
Things don’t stay organized on their own or simply because you have good storage structure; people keep things organized. So you will need to devote a bit of time and energy to tidying up your sports equipment zone on some regular basis. We suggest doing it four times a year with the changing of each season and corresponding change of sports. We also suggest an annual “deep-clean” where you review all your equipment, purge items that are no longer relevant, give the space a thorough cleaning, and re-organize things that have gotten out of order.
Keeping your sports equipment organized involves many of the same organizing principles that apply elsewhere in your home or office.
· First, assign a home to every item;
· Store like items together;
· Keep things off the floor by making optimal use of vertical (wall) space;
· Make sure everyone who uses the space knows where and how things are stored (labeling can really help facilitate this); and
· Use clear/see-through containers that make it easy to see items and return them to their homes.
For further inspiration, you may wish to do a web search or a search within Pinterest with keywords such as “sports equipment storage”.
Written by NAPO Michigan Chapter member Nia Spongberg of Spruced Up Spaces, LLC.