Youth: The Art & Science of Picking the Right Soccer Goalie Gloves

Jul 24, 2019

***This article is part of an educational series for soccer parents and youth players new to soccer***

Lightning-quick reflexes and somersaulting ability will take a goalie far, but their performance will drop without the right pair of gloves. That’s why choosing soccer goalie gloves is somewhat of an art and science. 

But for younger or more inexperienced goalkeepers, choosing the right ones can be tricky. Fortunately, we’re here to dish out a few pointers on what coaches, parents and players themselves should look out for when picking goalkeeper gloves. 

Soccer Goalkeeper Gloves: How They’re Built

Before identifying which soccer gloves are best for goalkeepers, it’s important to understand their anatomy. Brief know-how of why manufacturers build gloves the way they do will help players choose the right gloves. 

When looking at soccer goalie gloves, there are four main components: the backhand, palm, closure and fingers. These four considerations help to protect goalkeepers’ hands from injury and boost their performance on the pitch. 

The Four Goalie Glove Components

  • Backhand - The backhand of a glove protects the goalkeeper’s hand when punching the ball. The body of the glove and finger gussets typically connect the palm and backhand. The quality of the backhand varies, with higher quality backhand material costing more and lower ones, less. With that said, the thickness and material directly impact how much protection it offers. 

  • Palm - The palm of a goalkeeper’s glove allows the goalie to catch the ball. Therefore, gloves with superior grip are the ideal choice for goalies of all ages and experience levels. Of course, other factors play a role here such as durability and comfort, all of which play a role in the selection process (more on this later).

  • Closure - When goalies are looking for gloves, they must also think about closure. Closure refers to how the glove gets on and off the hand as well as how secure it is on the hand. There are different closures and they all can change the level of comfort a goalkeeper feels. 

  • Fingers - Last but certainly not least are the fingers. In fact, they’re the most critical portion of soccer goalkeeper gloves because they allow goalies to catch and secure the ball. The cut and size of the glove affect how free the fingers can move in the glove - some goalies prefer looser fits while others prefer tighter fits.

  • With these four components in mind, now comes the buying factors players should consider when picking a glove that offers the best protection and performance. 

    How to Pick the Best Soccer Goalie Gloves

    Ultimately, choosing the best gloves will be a personal choice, especially for more experienced goalkeepers. For the newbies and youngsters, however, some gloves are more ideal for the sake of improving their saves and preventing injuries. Let’s take a look at how the four main components mentioned in the previous section apply when players are looking to buy gloves. 

    Buy the Right Cut

    The “cut” of soccer goalie gloves refers to how manufacturers construct the palm material of the glove. A glove’s cut plays a role in how well a goalie can grip the ball and how well it fits on their hand. There are four main cuts:

    • Flat cut - The flat cut, also known as the “traditional cut” is a singular piece of flat foam/latex material that takes on a boxier look. The flat palm cut provides goalies with a looser fit, allowing for more hand and finger movement.
    • Rolled/gunn cut - Gloves with this cut present a rolled finger construction, with the sides of the palm are wrap or roll around the fingers. The rolled/gunn cut provides a tighter fit and larger contact area with the ball giving players more control.
    • Negative cut - With a negative cut, the seam sits on the inside of the glove. The palm is made with a single piece of latex with gussets between the palm and backhand of the glove. Negative cuts offer a tight fit and better control, and is also advantageous for female goalkeepers and goalies with small hands.
    • Hybrid cut - As its name suggests, a hybrid cut glove is a combination of the above-mentioned cuts. 

    Choose the Right Fit and Sizing

    The best soccer goalkeeper gloves provide plenty of room for the fingers (without being too loose, of course). This provides the player with more comfort, which affects performance and offers the additional benefit of limiting damage to the gloves (ie. blowouts or holes). 

    That being said, it’s advisable for players to have their hands measured and to choose gloves that extend roughly ½ to 1 inch past the fingertips. Simply trying the gloves on can also help to determine whether they are good enough for a player or not. 

    Choose the Grip and Palm Suitable for the Player

    It’s vital that goalkeepers choose gloves that have the ideal grip and palm fit. With that said, there’s variability in terms of what type of grip should be chosen. For starters, grip and pricing go hand in hand. The way it typically goes is that cheaper gloves provide less grip while more expensive gloves provide more grip. 

    For more experienced goalies, more grip is the way to go, but less grip can actually be advantageous for youth and beginner players. Goalie gloves that provide less grip force younger and beginner players to improve their saving ability. An added benefit is that soccer goalie gloves with less grip often have more durability. 

    For parents seeking a cost-effective yet entry-level pair of gloves for their young players, gloves with less grip can be a good way to go. 

    Finger Protection

    Protecting the fingers is absolutely paramount for soccer goalies, and that’s why choosing gloves with extra finger protection is necessary. Goalkeeper gloves come in 2 forms: without “finger spines” and wit “finger spines”, whereby protection comes by means of plastic spines inserted into the backhand of the glove. 

    Soccer goalie gloves with a spine come in two flavours: segmented spines (which are stiff) and flexible spines (which are bendable). The segmented spines bend forward but not backwards in order to prevent painful hyperextension (and spains) of the fingers, a common goalie injury. Flexible spines, however, can bend forward and backward to provide more support, flexibility and shock-resistance to the fingers. 

    Segmented spines are more common and a good choice for young and inexperienced players who are still improving their technique. They’re also ideal for players who are prone to or recovering from recent finger injuries. 

    Buying Chart for Soccer Goalie Gloves

    With the key considerations for buying soccer goalie gloves now mentioned, you might wonder which gloves you should look for specifically. The options are plenty and it’s easy to get lost, but fortunately, we have a breakdown of our best goalkeeper gloves that will serve your needs. Take a look at the chart below.

    Storelli goalkeeper glove comparison

    As you can see, each of these gloves will fit (pun intended) individual goalkeepers better than others. Ultimately, choosing the right goalie gloves boils down to knowing your hand dimensions, performance goals (more control, better protection) and current skill level.

    Take a more detailed look at our soccer goalie gloves

    Get a Grip on Buying Soccer Goalie Gloves

    Buying the right goalkeeper gloves for soccer involves more than just choosing a pair for their look and color. Players need to take their hand size, skill level, injury risk and performance goals into consideration. By analyzing the different components of goalie gloves and how they impact performance, players can choose the perfect pair that takes their performance and safety to the next level.

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