With three boys who are serious about soccer, we are always looking for ways to get in more playtime and shooting practice.
The new El Diablo nets caught my eye and I kind of figured they would work well for my 9 year old and his team. However, I wondered how well they would hold up to the tough kicks of high school players. I envisioned them being blasted over backwards…or even blown away on a windy day.
Thanks to the guys at Rukket, for the last two weeks, my guys have been putting a set to the test.
The nets are large, measuring 48 inches across by 32 inches high. Yet, each collapses into a flat and compact little circle about 16 inches in diameter.
They come with their own carry backpack (see the black bag hanging on our kicking wall above) which holds up to two nets and a full size soccer ball. That’s not only handy, it’s also very cool!
Three stakes are provided to anchor it into the ground. They hold surprising well.
If you want to play indoors or on a hard surface, you can load three built-in pockets with anything lying around. I actually filled three tube socks with sand to use in the pockets, and it worked like a charm! This is a feature I didn’t find in any other nets. We LOVE the idea!
Putting It To The Test
This is part of our U9 team.
Does the net move when you shoot at it? Yes, and no. It has a wedge-shaped back which is designed to redirect the ball back out to the player. So there is no digging in the net for the ball.
Sometimes it flexes backwards—especially from hard and high shots. Like in this clip.
But notice, it didn’t move from it’s footprint, and it actually returned the ball as it was designed to do!
The last three clips were shot with sandbags in the pockets in addition to using the stakes. Using no extra weights might actually be best when you can use the stakes. I’m thinking the ball shifted the weights just enough to prevent the net from springing back into proper shape. Especially when balls were shot hard into the side. Like this.
See how the net is left leaning a little to the right?
Incidentally, my oldest son just went back out and proved my hunch. He tried using a net with just the stakes, and the nets sprang right back into place--no matter where he shot from. (I didn’t get any video, so you’ll have to take my word on it!)
Just note that if you are using weights to help hold it in place, hard shots from the side will probably warrant a trip to the net to straighten it back up.
Knowing what I now know, I’m sure that the net would have sprung back completely in this next clip if the weights weren’t in the pockets.
Still, it does very well!
And shots to the center are handled beautifully.
I have to say, we have been totally impressed! My teenagers have used portable Pug brand goals in the high school gymnasium and they tell me these nets are MUCH nicer.
Setting Up And Taking Down
For us, getting the net open was no problem at all. In fact, to my teenager’s endless amusement, it repositioned my nose on its way to the “open” position! “Mom,” he laughed, “it says “CAUTION” right there on the yellow strap!” Hmm…So it does…lol!
I love that Rukket provides a video showing how to fold it back up, too. We wouldn’t have gotten it back in the bag if all we had were the printed instructions! Lol! We needed to watch it several times in order to get the technique down. But all three of my boys can do it easily now!
The things we love most:
- Ease of set-up: Pull it out, slide the strap off and and WAH-LAH!
- Durability and stability: Even with hard shots.
- Compact size: Easy to take anywhere.
- Handy storage bag: Great looking and fits 2 nets AND a ball.
- Built-in pockets: Load them up and play anywhere, inside or out! Love, love, love this feature!
My guys would definitely recommend these nets. They’re great for practicing alone, or for playing short sided games.
We can’t wait to take them camping with us this fall! Last year, to the delight of all the parents, my teenagers organized the entire kid-population into one epic soccer match using just cones and a ball. These nets will be awesome!
Overall, we think these nets are among the nicest we have used, if not the nicest. Great quality, easy to use, and incredibly versatile. All of my guys will be using these to increase their shooting accuracy.
Here’s a link to Rukket’s videos showing how to set it up it, how to fold it back up, and a promotional video of kids using it. The promotional video doesn’t do it enough justice in my opinion. I think if they had included footage of experienced players giving it a harder workout, the nets would sell themselves.
Rukket kind enough to send us a set of nets to review, but as always, the opinions expressed here are totally our own.