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To a serious goalkeeper, gloves are just as important as cleats. Gloves help a keeper control a shot, provide protection, and comfort. Part of learning about being a goalkeeper is to also understand how to take care of the equipment that protect you from the elements and stinging attacker’s shot.
Until we turn pro or own an Internet company specializing in goalkeeper equipment and education, you or your parents are responsible for buying your own gloves. Match gloves are not cheap. Gloves don’t last forever, maybe a season if you are lucky.
Gloves Are Perishables :
The reality is; the more expensive the glove, the better the grip but the less the glove lasts. SuperSoft and sticky latex palms found in professional grade gloves provide exceptional grip but not much in durability. Gloves are perishables! Very tacky game gloves with a lot of grip will start showing since of wear or even start flaking during the first use. It is not a quality issue it is because it is soft latex. Buying a glove with more durability will be at the expense of some grip. A glove designed for games will last on average 12 –14 games before they have to be converted to the practice ranks. Some keepers get more than a season but that depends on how well the keeper cares for the gloves, their diving technique, the amount of stress the gloves are under, and playing surface. You have to find a balance based on your budget.
Here are helpful tips to increase the life of your gloves:
Buy the Correct Size – If gloves are too big or small it not only can affect your performance but also accelerates the wear and tear of the gloves. Fingers that are in gloves that are too big or small can put stress on the latex and the seams causing premature breakdown or tears. When sizing your gloves, your fingers should be no less than a ¼ inch to an ideal ½ inch. An inch or more is too much.
Know your palm latex – Purchase a glove based on your playing surface, weather conditions, and budget. Know whether your glove and latex is best suited for all weather, dry conditions, wet conditions, hard ground, or natural surfaces. Soft tacky professional grade latex palms that are used for “All Weather” or “dry weather” and soft “natural surfaces” should be moist while playing. A wet weather glove requires care and soaking pre match and potentially at half time. Only wet weather gloves are good in the rain. A glove designed for futsol, turf, or hard ground isn’t porous and should not be soaked with water since it will make the glove slippery. A SuperSoft tacky glove will breakdown on harsh indoor surfaces and hard ground. The better the latex, the more expensive, the better the grip but the sacrifice is durability. Gloves with better durability sacrifice some amount of grip.
In Match Care – With softer latex (traditionally Supersoft latex and above) gloves you need to moisten the palm again with water as it dries. Spit only goes so far and adds bacteria to the palm. SuperSoft latex palms can become slippery when wet. Figure out the correct balance before your match to avoid wearing sponges when you need the gripping power the most. I personally rinse my gloves under water for two seconds each 10-15 minutes before a game to help the palm absorb some of the water to become damp to the touch.
Training Gloves – To insure your game gloves are in the best shape possible don’t practice with them. Buy a relatively inexpensive training glove that can take the beating of training. Once your game gloves start to show considerable signs of wear relegate them to the practice field and purchase a new pair. It is important to have 1 pair strictly for matches and another for training. Inexpensive gloves with more durable foams may not last longer but just cost a lot less. They could be less expensive since the manufacturer uses cheaper material such as PVC in the backhand or the quality of the latex is less.
Clean Your Gloves – Dirt and sweat breakdown the latex of the glove. Dirt acts as sandpaper and dries the soft, tacky, porous latex into a hard crusty surface. The toxins in your sweat also can dry out the glove over time. Rinsing the gloves after a game will help wash the spit, sweat, and dirt away.
How to clean –
Proper Storage – After a game don’t throw your gloves in a bag and forget about them until the next game. If your next game is tomorrow then wipe the dirt of the palm with a moist glove towel. Washing them for tomorrow’s game may cause the gloves to be too wet. If that is the case, wrap the gloves in a moist glove towel to keep them moist for tomorrow’s game. You don’t want your gloves drying with the dirt and sweat in the palm. Over time dirt and sweat will absorb the natural moisture of the causing the glove to dry, crack, and peel. Don’t store your gloves more than a day wet since the will stink and begin to grow fungi. When storing your gloves don’t place them with palms together since they can stick together and rip when trying to separate. A glove bag is the best way to store your gloves. The latex needs to breath.
The modern goalkeeper relies on their gloves. Professionals with sponsorships have the ability to discard their gloves after 1 or 2 matches but the rest of us don’t have that luxury. We need to care for our gloves to make sure they last as long as we need them.
Glove Sizing Help :
This is not an exact science since every goalkeeper's hand is different. There are slight variations in size between manufacturers, between inexpensive practice gloves and more expensive game gloves, and Jr size numbers and adult sized numbers. Size 7 is a tough one since some manufacturers have a jr 7 and a senior 7.
Note: Goalkeeping gloves should be worn slightly larger than hand size. A keeper's finger should not be touching the tip of the glove nor should there be excessive room that makes the glove feel sloppy. , Generally 1/4" to 1/2" over the end of your fingertip is optimal or a thumbnail length if you dont have a ruler handy.
Here are some tips to guesstimate more efficiently. If you dont have a local soccer store to go try on a pair then here is are two common ways to determine the appropriate size.
Option 1: Measure the circumference of the widest part of the palm Measure the circumference of the widest part of the palm excluding the thumb. Round up to the next highest inch. Then add 1" to the measurement to determine your glove size.
Option 2: Measure the length of the hand from tip of the middle finger to the base of the large thumb area where the keeper's thumb meets the wrist. Round up to the next highest inch. Then add 1" to the measurement to determine your glove size.
Example: 7 ¾" rounds up to 8", + 1" = 9", so a 7 ¾ around hand is a size 9 glove.
Glove Size Measurements:
Keepers come in all shapes and sizes with long and short fingers. The above tips are only a guide to help you make an informed decision.
If you need help figuring out the appropriate size we are here to answer any questions. When you email have the above measurements handy as well as the height and weight of the keeper.
Christian Benjamin, owner of www.keeperstop.com, has been a keeper for close to 20 years, has been training keepers and coaches for over 10 years. Keeperstop.com can help you purchase the appropriate glove for your needs and within your budget. Email [email protected]