Guide to Goalkeeper Gloves

  1. Brand names
  2. Finger cuts
  3. Backhand
  4. Finger protection
  5. Latex durability and grip
  6. Wrist closures
  7. Glove sizing
  8. How to take care of your gloves

Brand Names

Top brands

  • Uhlsport — one of the longest standing top goalkeeping brands on the market, and worn by the pros. They’re constantly improving their technology.
  • Reusch—another big name in goalkeeper equipment, used by professionals for many years.
  • Adidas — obviously a huge name in soccer with a great gloves that are worn by professionals.
  • Nike—another big name in soccer. Early on, Nike gloves were subpar in my opinion. But over the years, they have greatly improved in quality, with many star players now wearing them.
  • SP—(Soloporteros) a relatively new Spanish goalkeeping brand that makes high quality gloves worn by professionals.
  • Elite Sport—one of the fastest growing goalkeeper-specific brands in Europe, and one of my personal favorites.
  • One — a goalkeeping equipment specialist with high quality gloves.
  • Sells—another goalkeeping equipment specialist company. While their gloves are top notch, I’m not a fan of their style.
  • Puma—another big brand name in general, like Adidas, with high quality keeper gear.
  • West Coast Goalkeeping—an American company that specializes in high quality goalkeeping gear. They make fantastic gloves.

Finger Cuts

  1. Flat palm, traditional or positive
  2. Rolled
  3. Negative
Elite Sport brand traditional cut goalkeeper gloves, showing both the grayish colored palm and the red, white and blue backhand which looks like Captain America’s shield.
Flat palm or traditional cut goalkeeper gloves

Flat palm, traditional or positive cut

  • Looser fit, with more room for wider fingers.
  • Stitches on the outside of the latex.
  • Flat palm from a single piece of latex.
  • Finger gussets, sometimes with a more breathable material.
The white latex palm and white and gold backhand of Elite Sport’s rolled finger cut goalkeeper gloves.
Rolled finger cut goalkeeper gloves

Rolled cut

  • Slightly more snug feeling than the flat palm cut.
  • Often more foam and padding, making the glove feel bulkier.
  • Stitches on the outside of the latex.
  • Maximum latex surface area for a better grip.
  • No finger gussets due to the rolled fingers.
White Reusch brand negative cut goalie gloves, showing the palm and the backhand which has a red arrow design.
Negative cut goalkeeper glove

Negative cut

  • A snug, tighter fit for a better feel of the ball.
  • Stitches on the inside of the glove.
  • Flatter palm from a single piece of latex.
  • Finger gussets, sometimes with a more breathable material.

Hybrids

Hybrid cut goalkeeper gloves

Backhand

White plastic finger protection spines laying in the grass next to a bright neon yellow goalkeeper glove made by One.
Segmented finger spines from a goalkeeper glove

Finger Protection

Pros

  • Restricts movement backward, with the goal to limit finger injuries.
  • Added protection from backhand injuries as well, like getting stepped on (though rare).
  • Added confidence when catching the ball.

Cons

  • Restricts movement forwards, making it hard to develop a proper fist to punch the ball away.
  • Limits a players ability to develop a feel for catching the ball properly, and often leads into some lazy catches.
  • Finger strength will not improve naturally during play or training.
  • Not 100% guarantee fingers won’t get injured.

Advice

  • Young goalkeepers under the age of 12 do not need finger saves—the shots they face just are not hard enough for worry.
  • Having spines limits a young goalkeeper’s ability to develop finger strength and proper, safe catching habits—and this is the most important thing for them to develop as goalkeepers.
  • If you’re coming off of a finger injury, it’s more than likely best to have the extra support of spines.

My experience

Abrasions in the bright yellow latex palm of a goalkeeper glove.
Abrasions on the latex palm of a goalkeeper glove

Latex Durability and Grip

  • Softer latex = better grip
  • Harder latex = better durability
  • Thicker latex = better padding
  • Thinner latex = better ball control

Match vs. training gloves

  • Match gloves are typically more expensive and have a better grip, due to high quality latex. This means they are more fragile and susceptible to abrasions.
  • Training gloves are typically less expensive and have better durability, with a lower rated grip. The added durability comes from a dense, more synthetic palm.
  • In my opinion, training gloves are better for younger, beginner goalkeepers due to their affordability (i.e. fingers grow), level of play (i.e. weaker shots), need for durability, and need to develop finger strength.

How the pitch surface affects grip

  • Wet pitch surface requires dry latex—gently pat gloves dry on a towel. Do not rub them!
  • Dry pitch surface requires moist latex—lightly wet palms with clean drinking water (try not to spit on them).
Black Nike JR Match Goalkeeper Gloves with a large white swoosh on the backhand. Its elastic, half-wrap closure can be seen at the wrist.
Nike JR Match Goalkeeper Gloves have an elastic, half-wrap closure.

Wrist Closures

  • Wrist cuffs can be elastic or non-elastic. Elastic cuffs are pulled on like a snug sock, while non-elastic have a slit in the side to allow them to be pulled on easily.
  • Wrist straps can be half-wrap, full-wrap (once around), or double-wrap (sometimes called “bandage”).
  • Some gloves, like the Nike Mercurial Touch glove, do not have wrist straps and rely on a longer flexible wrist cuff to secure the glove.
  • Most of the cheaper gloves (especially for younger players) have a non-elastic, half-wrap closure.

Glove Sizing

Measuring

  1. Using a soft tape measure (or sewing measuring tape) to measure the length of you hand, starting with the base of your palm (where it meets your wrist) up to the tip of your longest finger (typically your middle finger). Write this measurement down.
  2. Now measure the circumference of your palm, just below your knuckles and excluding your thumb. Write this measurement down.

Things to consider

  • Finger tip length — there should be about a half inch (or length of a finger nail) of room left in the finger tips.
  • Width—if the gloves are too wide, they will slide, shift or bunch in the palm. This will affect your ability to catch properly. If the gloves are too tight, they will be uncomfortable or too tight to properly flex your hand.

How to take care of your gloves

  1. Avoiding excess or unneeded abrasion. For example, do not use your palms to get up during training (use your fists) and don’t allow the palms of your gloves to touch rough surfaces, like Velcro.
  2. Washing your gloves frequently to remove dirt. Use warm water without soap. Do not use a scrubber or rub the palms together; instead gently massage them. Do not use heat to dry your gloves; allow them to air dry. I typically hang them using the strap (or sewn in tab) over a towel or sink to drip dry.
  3. Storing your gloves in a cool, temperature-controlled place. Do not leave them in a hot car or in direct sunlight.
  4. Having more than one pair of gloves. Purchase training gloves for training, and save your match quality gloves for games. Doing this will ensure your expensive match gloves last longer.
  5. Dampening your gloves with water before each use—especially on drier days. Read more about how the pitch affects grip above.

Questions or comments

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