Are bats, balls and sports equipment taking over your garage? Organize Detroit founder Andrea Wolf offers advice for keeping sports gear tidy and easy to find.
By Karleigh M. Stone
Photography by Leslie Berg
Organizing sports equipment is one of those to-do list items parents never seem to get around to. However, getting organized will not only make a garage or basement tidier, but the equipment will also more likely be used if it’s easy to find and grab.
Andrea Wolf, founder of Organize Detroit, a Metro Detroit organizing company that creates functional spaces for homes and offices, offers the following tips for managing sports equipment. So, like her go-to strategy, let’s “just dig in.”
1. Set your emotion aside.
While it can be easier said than done, taking the emotion out and starting with a clear head is key to optimal organization. “It’s the biggest component of what we do,” Wolf says. She’s an unattached third party, but channeling that attitude in your own cleanup will allow you to filter out the junk.
2. Get rid of things you don’t use.
With emotion blocked out and a place to start, it’s time to make piles. Wolf suggests creating three piles while going through sports equipment: keep, donate and garbage. She also says the best way to make sure your items to be donated don’t creep back into the “keep” pile is to “get them out of the house that day, so you’re not sitting there looking at them and thinking about it.”
3. Create a system that works for you.
Organize Detroit’s garage guru Leslie Berg says there is no one right system. “Do what works for you,” she advises. “It needs to be done in a way you can keep up with and manage.”
4. Find a landing space for every item.
This is a surefire way to make sure sports equipment stays organized. “If it has a place to go, it’s one less thing that ends up on the floor,” Wolf says. Hooks and clear bins are two solutions. “Make it so you can see it,” Berg says. So, head to the store and purchase the clear bins you need, then label each one by item type, sport, whatever works for you, and place them on a wire shelving unit.
Berg is a proponent of peg boards and hooks. Besides creating extra room in a sports storage space, hanging items keeps them free of leaves, cobwebs and spiders on the ground. She suggests hanging anything with a net, as well as tennis rackets and baseball bats. Large garbage cans can also be useful to store bats, hockey sticks and skis.
5. Teach the kids the process.
Sports equipment can be overwhelming to keep organized, especially at the end of a long tournament day, so don’t put all the pressure on yourself as a parent. “Whatever you do, make sure your kids have an expectation of where things go,” Wolf says. “If you don’t share the new blueprint with them, it won’t work.”
6. Swap out-of-season for in-season gear.
Wolf emphasizes that only in-season sports equipment should be in “prime real estate storage.” Berg adds, “In-season needs to be by the door where your kids come in. If they have to take it more than five steps, they’re not going to do it.” Store the out-of-season items downstairs and out of the way. Both experts agree taking time to change out seasonal items is key to keep areas clean. “If you have them in the same space, it’s too much,” Wolf says.
7. Revisit and clean once a month.
Remember that after taking the time to create an organized space for sports equipment, it’s important to keep it up and not let your hard work go to waste. “Nothing is maintenance free,” Berg says. “Once a month stand back and look at the area to see what needs to be done.” Make it a priority. “Don’t let it build up,” Wolf adds.