Goalkeeper gloves are the most important piece of equipment for keepers. The right pair of gloves can make the difference between a brilliant save and a good effort. Goalkeeper gloves provide a better grip on the ball, protect and cushion your fingers and palms, and help you block, catch and punch the ball. Goalkeeper gloves are usually made from a blend of natural and synthetic latex foams. Some goalkeeper gloves are best on artificial grass; others are best for futsal, in the rain, at the professional level or at the youth level. And why do some pairs of goalkeeper gloves cost $20, while others cost $180?
This simple piece of equipment can seem complicated. Here is our guide for choosing the best pair of gloves for you, and how to make them last.
THE ANATOMY OF GOALKEEPER GLOVES
Backhand: The backhand of the glove provides protection when punching the ball. The body of the glove and finger gussets usually connect the palm and backhand. (Finger gussets are the inner mesh lining of the fingers, small pieces of material that are inserted into the gloves to help improve the fit.) The quality of the backhand also factors into the cost of the glove. Less expensive gloves have a single foam layer, while the best gloves have latex backhands.
Palm: The palm of the goalkeeper glove (along with the fingers) allows the goalkeeper to catch the ball. Goalkeeper gloves with a good grip are considered match gloves. Upper-level goalkeeper gloves have a good, strong grip and a thick palm made of top grade materials. Palm types include smooth, dimpled and textured. Textured or dimpled palms are durable and are better suited for practice.
Closure: A goalkeeper glove’s closure refers to the way it gets on and off of your hand, and how it is secured to your hand. Hook and loop closures are the most common, and feature an elastic, adjustable flap that can be used to tighten and loosen the glove. V-notch closures have a vented entry to help keep your hands cool and dry. Bandage closures are a lot like medical bandages, elastic that wraps securely around the wrist. Bandage closures provide the most supportive fit, so some goalkeepers find the fit restrictive.
Fingers: Fingers are crucial to catching and securing the ball. A glove’s cut and size will determine how snugly the glove fits. Some keepers prefer a looser fit with more freedom of movement, while others prefer the control and security that a tightly fitted glove provides.
A goalkeeper glove’s cut refers to the way the palm material is constructed.
Flat: Also called “traditional cut”, the palm on these goalkeeper gloves is a single piece of flat foam. Flat palm gloves offer a loose fit and boxier appearance, with exterior stitching.
Rolled/Gunn: Roll/Gunn cut goalkeeper gloves are identified by their “rolled” finger construction, the seams on the back of the finger causing them to roll. The sides of the palm are wrapped or rolled around the fingers. This cut offers a snug fit and larger contact area with the ball.
Negative: The seam is on the inside of the glove. The palm is made with one piece of latex with gussets between the palm and the backhand. The negative provides the most snug fit, and is ideal for female goalkeepers and goalkeepers with slimmer hands.
Hybrid: Hybrid cuts offer a combination of cuts in the same glove. This cut is a combination of rolled/Gunn and either the flat or negative cut.
FIT AND SIZING
Goalkeeper gloves should be roomy, generally 1/2 to one inch past the end of your fingertips. Goalkeeper gloves that fit tightly are more prone to blowouts, or holes around the fingers or palm. To determine your goalkeeper glove size, measure the circumference of the part of your palm just below your knuckles, without your thumb. Round up to the next whole inch, and then add 1 to determine your size. Measure both hands, and if the measurements are different, order the larger size for the most consistent fit. If you can’t find a tape measure, another sizing method involves your shoe size. Usually, the goalkeeper glove size will correlate with the shoe size. If the shoe size is a half size, round up to the next full size for the best fit. The best way to determine fit is to try gloves on.
We carry over 200 pairs of gloves that range from $20 to $180. Why? The biggest difference is the grip. As a general rule, the more expensive the glove, the better the grip. Less expensive gloves offer better durability and cost less, but the grip will not be as tacky or strong. Less expensive goalkeeper gloves are great for youth or beginning players, because they teach players to focus on technique to make saves, rather than the tackiness of an expensive palm.
A few things to remember:
- The softer the palm, the better the grip. The rougher the palm, the more durable the glove is. That roughness is due to more rubber than latex in the palm, and these gloves are great for indoor play.
- Goalkeeper glove palms have different levels of thickness, shown in millimeters (3mm and 4mm are the most common). For a better feel on the ball, you’ll want a thinner palm. If you are more concerned with protection and cushioning, consider a thicker palm; higher-quality materials are thicker.
- Keep your playing surface in mind. Less-forgiving surfaces like artificial grass can take a toll on latex, so consider a thicker palm. Other goalkeeper gloves are designed to withstand wet, dry and indoor conditions well.
Finger protection usually comes in the form of plastic spines inserted into the backhand of the goalkeeper glove. This technology is popular at the youth and recreation levels because of the technology it provides. Two main types of finger protection are segmented (stiff) spines and flexible (bendable) spines. Segmented spines bend forwards (but not backwards) to prevent finger hyperextension. This is the most common type of finger protection. Flexible spines bend forwards and backwards, and are designed to support the fingers, disperse shock and stay flexible. Gloves with finger protection are recommended for goalkeepers that have had or are prone to finger injuries. Much like shin guards and legs, plastic finger spines do not eliminate injuries from stubbed or kicked fingers.
HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR GOALKEEPER GLOVES
As with most pieces of soccer gear, you can extend the life of your goalkeeper gloves if you take proper care of them.
Immediate wear of the palm material is normal; latex is a fragile material. Goalkeeper gloves will retain their grip until the foam layer wears away completely. Different brands have different regiments for goalkeeper glove care, so follow them to extend the life of your goalkeeper gloves.
It’s a good idea to have two pairs of gloves, one for training and one for match play. This way, you can have a backup pair, and you won’t wear out your match gloves during practices. Most gloves perform better if moistened with clean water before play. We also recommend investing in a bottle of glove wash. Goalkeeper glove wash is gentler than normal soaps and detergents, and helps eliminate unpleasant glove odor.