The Pros & Cons of Finger Protection in Goalie Gloves

Jan 24, 2022


If you’re a goalkeeper and you’ve injured your hand, you’ll fancy the idea of finger protection. After all, no one wants to injure their hands twice! Finger protection protects goalkeepers from hand injuries. They also prevent existing ones from getting worse. They’re not perfect though. Finger protection, as useful as it is, can have drawbacks for certain players. This post will take a look at the pros and cons of finger protection in goalie gloves and who should use them (and when).

101 on Goalie Glove Finger Protection

Finger protection takes the form of plastic pieces you insert into the backhand of your goalie gloves. They're also known as "fingers saves" or "finger spines". 


They work by allowing one-directional movement - a forward movement so you can make a fist. They also stiffen when you apply pressure to them so that your fingers don’t stretch too far back. 


This protects you from common hand injuries that occur when you block shots or dive. You can wear finger protectors on all fingers or individual ones.

Finger Protection Helps Injured Hands

We recommend wearing finger protectors in goalie gloves after you've suffered a hand injury. Injured hands and fingers are still weak and overstretched. This makes them more vulnerable to further injuries until they have recovered. 


Blocking shots or diving with injured fingers is a recipe for more pain and damage. Wearing finger protection in goalie gloves prevents this from happening. 


That makes finger protection an effective recovery/rehabilitation tool. They keep injured hands safe from further injury until the fingers recover. And that’s our main takeaway here: players should wear finger protection in their goalie gloves after suffering a finger injury. 

Finger Protection Can Hinder Performance

Of course, like anything else, finger protection in goalie gloves isn't perfect. There are times when wearing them reduces goalkeeper performance. 


Here’s why. 


Finger spines limit your feel for the ball. They also restrict hand movement and weaken your grip on the ball. It goes without saying that less grip for a goalkeeper is a no-no. 


This is a big problem for youth or beginner goalkeepers. They have to develop a feel for the ball, and any restriction in motion can hinder their development. 


For young players, this also means they won’t learn how to catch the ball safely. They will likely develop the habit of slapping the ball, which is poor technique. 


So in this sense, finger protection stifles goalkeeper performance and skill development.

Finger Protection Involves More than Wearing Finger Spines

We’ll say it again: the best time to where finger protection in goalie gloves is AFTER a finger injury. Of course, some other concerns into play. For example, some players are injury prone and may have delicate hands. But we’d still say avoid wearing finger spines in your goalie gloves because you can protect your fingers in more efficient ways. 


If you're worried about finger injuries, then hand strengthening and conditioning exercises are crucial. All goalkeepers should practice them anyway. Hand strengthening stabilizes the fingers so that they don't get overstretched during a block or catch.

Hand Strengthening Exercises for Goalkeepers


  • Tennis ball squeezes
  • Pinch strengtheners
  • Fingers extension with an elastic band
  • Weighted eccentric wrist extension 
  • Fingers bends

  • Apart from hand exercises, goalkeepers who learn proper technique from the beginning will have a lower risk of hand injuries. The proper shot-blocking technique is safer than poor shot-blocking technique.

    Removable Finger Protection Gives Players Flexibility 

    Ultimately, the decision to wear finger protection in goalie gloves is a personal choice for players and parents. Deciding whether to wear them or not shouldn’t be a dilemma. The best thing you can do is to buy goalie gloves that have removable finger saves. 


    This gives you the option to put them in and take them out as desired or if necessary. Gloves that feature removable finger saves give you the best of both worlds. You get injury rehabilitation when hurt and flexible performance when well.


    Looking for a pair of goalie gloves that has removable finger spines? Browse through our selection of goalkeeper gloves to find the right fit and style for you!

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