Many contributing factors should go into a goalkeeperâ€™s decision to purchase a pair of goalkeeper gloves. The purpose of this guide is to educate glove buyerâ€™s young and old. Hopefully, it will help goalkeepers make an informed decision on their purchase of a keepers most important piece of equipment.
Gloves generally come in numeric sizes similar to shoe sizes. Sizes generally start at size 4 for younger keepers, and go as high as 12 for adult keepers. Most companies offer half sizes, but the half size model is not popular in some markets (United states for example, where half sizes are rare). Most of the glove companies will have a sizing chart on the packet, or pouch the gloves are sold in. Since each company sizes differ (some to a great extent) the chart is usually somewhat worthless.
The only real way to discover which size is right for you are to try them on. You may find a 9 in one brand fits you just right, while a 9 in another brand are ill fitting. There is a lot of debate on how gloves should be worn. Loose, tight, a size larger, a half size smaller, etcâ€¦.The only thing that matters is how comfortable the glove is for the goalkeeper who will be wearing them. In the 80â€™s and early 90â€™s, many companies suggested gloves to be worn a size larger to ease stress on the seams connecting the latex to the glove body itself.
It stands to reason that the tighter the glove, the more stress is placed on the seams. In this day and age however, most gloves are constructed of flexible body material that molds to your hand, an offers more give than gloves of past. The bottom line is that the best way to find a size that suits you, is to try as many gloves on as possible with the features important to you. Keep a mental note of the size that works in each particular brand giving you an opportunity to purchase gloves without trying them on. Generally companies sizes will stay with the same sizing on their models for long periods of time.
One of the most important factors in the purchase of a glove is fit. A sloppy fit will cause the glove to slip on the hand while catching the ball, thus making it more difficult. Do not confuse a sloppy fit, with wearing a glove too large. Some goalkeepers prefer a looser fit at the tips of the fingers. A sloppy fit equates to a glove that moves excessively on the hand, and wrist. The glove may be too wide at the palm, or in the fingers. Gloves can also be worn too tight. This will prevent the fingers extending, and spreading, also making catching a bit more difficult. A well fitting glove should be at the top of a goalkeeperâ€™s list of importance. Several things will contribute to how a glove fits on the hand. The first is cut. Goalkeeperâ€™s gloves generally have different types of cuts, with some companies putting there own spin on cuts, and offering hybrid models. The basic types of cuts are:
A flat palmed glove will usually provide more room inside of the glove for the hand to move. Some keepers prefer this.
- Rolled or Gunn cut
Rolled finger, or Gunn cut gloves will provide a more snug fit, The fingers are stitched with the top of the fingers sewn directly to the palm, with the sides of the palm “wrapped” or “rolled” around the fingers.
- Negative cut
Negative cut gloves generally offer the tightest fit to the hand. A flat palm will have boxed fingers, where as a Negative cut glove will have the gussets sewn on the inside of the finger providing a more secure fit.
- Bowl or Precurved
Bowl cut, or Precurved palms are generally flat palm gloves (some roll finger gloves also have this feature) that are pre-shaped to fit the curvature of the hand.
- Hybrid (generally offering a surround cut on the pinky and forefinger)
Hybrid gloves will offer a combination of cuts on the same glove. For example, certain models of gloves can have a roll-finger on the index and pinky, while utilizing a flat palm on the ring and middle finger.
A keeper should experiment with different glove cuts to find which works best for him or her. The glove should fit well enough to prevent keepers from continually fidgeting with the glove during a match. Other factors are included in the fit of a glove. One important, and often overlooked feature is the wrist, and strap that secures the glove to the hand. Once again, they type of closure is personal preference. There are basically three types of closures.
Bandage closures are basically a tubular piece of elastic (not unlike an ace bandage) that fits securely around the wrist. Though they offer the most secure, and supportive fit, they are also the most difficult to remove. Some goalkeepers find the fit restrictive.
Elastic closures are a fairly loose opening a ribbon of elastic sewn around the entire closure. Generally easier to get on and off, but not as supportive as a bandage.
- Slit Wrist
Slit Wrist entries offer little in the way of support, but are very easy to put on a remove. The price of the glove generally dictates the type of wrist closure. The higher priced models will usually have a bandage, while the lower end models will have elastic, or slit wrist. There are exceptions to this, but they are few.
A fairly new discovery in the world of goalkeeper gloves is finger protection. Adidas began the craze in 1996 with the first glove designed to offer finger hyperextension protection with system of plastic spines imbedded in the backhand of the glove. Since then, almost every major goalkeeper glove manufacturer has released a type of finger protection glove. Some companies use a simple unhinged plastic splint that offers little in the way of protection, while other companies have devised intricate customizable protection systems. The bottom line is to avoid finger protection gloves (for outdoor play) unless you have a prior finger injury that requires this type of protection.
The gloves basically protect against one type of injury, hyperextension. They do little to protect on stubbed, or kicked fingers, which are the most prevalent types of injuries to the hand that goalkeepers face. Many goalkeepers stick to finger protection gloves for indoor play, where the shots are closer, faster, and more abundant. This is an acceptable use. Fingersave gloves, especially in younger goalkeepers, promote a lack of technique and strength in the fingers, and should be avoided unless a prior finger injury exists. Simple trainers tape, and a skilled tape job will do more to protect fingers than most of the finger protection models available today. Obviously companies have been forced to create these types of gloves to remain competitive in the marketplace, hence their saturation. Remember that gimmicks are often created to raise prices and draw uneducated buyers to purchase models they do not need. That being said, there is a place for finger protection gloves, but not as a day to day goalkeeper glove.
There is a different kind of goalkeeper glove for almost every imaginable weather condition. In the early days of goalkeeper gloves, almost all were made of PU (Polyurethane), or another form of imitation leather. Today, goalkeeper gloves use a wide array of materials for different weather conditions. Fleece, latex, mesh, synthetic waterproof materials, and PU are generally the most widely used.
Fleece will generally be used in cooler climates. They offer warmth and limited protection to water. Latex glove bodies will offer little in the way of climate control, but will mold to your hand offering an almost customized fit. Mesh gloves will be used in warmer climates to offer breatheability to the hand. Mesh gloves also offer a lighter weight glove, which some goalkeepers prefer. Many companies offer their own brand of waterproof material in the glove body. They will usually prevent the absorption of water into the glove body itself, keeping the glove light in inclement weather. They will also offer some protection against cooler temperatures. They will however, not breathe as well as other types of gloves. All of the above choice should be dictated by weather conditions where the goalkeeper is playing. It may not be a good idea to purchase a glove made of fleece, if the predominant playing condition is hot and humid. Choose a glove that not only fits weather conditions, but one that will offer the best all around temperature control inside of the glove.
Along with fit, probably the most important part of a goalkeeper glove. There are literally dozens of palm choices for a goalkeeper in todayâ€™s market. A palm exists for virtually every level of play, weather condition, and field type. Goalkeeper gloves serve two main objectives. One, to provide shock absorption, and two, to provide additional grip (especially in poor conditions). When choosing latex many factors should be included in your decision.
Level of play: Choose a glove based on your level of play. More skilled levels demand more expensive, higher quality goalkeeper gloves. If your child is young, and not facing difficult shots, it stands to reason that they will not need a $100 glove.
Weather conditions: Many companies offer specific palm types to deal with wet/muddy weather, but most high end soft latexâ€™s will perform well in rainy conditions.
Field type: Many goalkeepersâ€™ now play on artificial surfaces, and astro turf. Since these type of surfaces generally come at the expense of a gloveâ€™s durability, you may need to factor field type in your choice of a glove. A thicker denser palm material, or a glove with a higher rubber to latex ratio maybe a better choice for these types of surfaces if durability is a consideration.
Several things to remember when choosing a palm.
- The softer the palm, the better the grip, but they will deteriorate quicker. Some companies have developed palms that incorporated additives making the glove soft, yet more durable. They are generally marketed as “titanium, dura, etcâ€¦”â€¦These types of palms offer a nice compromise between durability and grip.
- The rougher the palm, the more durable. Generally rough profile palms have a much higher rubber to latex ration (if they have latex at all). They will perform well indoors, but will not offer the grip of a higher priced palm. These type of palms are very good for beginning keepers, where grip and shock absorption is not the highest priority. It will teach young, and inexperience keepers to focus on technique vs. relying on the tackiness of a goalkeeper glove.
- Gloves are offered in different thickness levels. Choose the thickness best suited for you. Many keepers prefer a thinner palm, which offers more feel on the ball , to a thicker palm. You will generally see thickness in millimeters (3mm, 3.5mm 4mm etcâ€¦).
- Moisten the palm an hour before play. All supersoft latexâ€™s usually perform better when damp, and will last longer. This does not apply to entry-level gloves.
- Take good care of your gloves. Wash the latex after every use with water only if fairly clean, or mild detergent if soiled. Gloves will perform better and last longer.
While goalkeeper gloves are very important, they are not a substitute for proper technique. You can have the most expensive gloves imaginable, but they will not help you if you do not exhibit the proper technique.
Buying Guide Courtesy of The Glove Bag