Goalie Glove U - How to Choose a Pair Based on Age & Experience

Oct 25, 2023

“If you're a goalkeeper, it doesn't matter what you save the ball with - if you keep it out, it's not a goal.” Those are the words of Mark Lawrenson, an Irish former defender, and in all honesty, he’s partially correct. It’s true that a goalkeeper's most bankable asset is their skill set, but that undermines the effect goalie gloves can have on performance. 

A keeper’s choice of gloves can make the difference to shutting down the most skillfully executed shots or letting them slip through. And an overlooked aspect of this is matching the right gloves with a keepers current skill level. 

That’s why we’re here to show you how and why it matters.

Think About Experience Level When Buying Goalie Gloves

Yes, size matters when it comes to goalie glove choice, but so does your skill level—goalie glove type and skill level are intertwined. Wearing the right pair complements and enhances a keeper’s skill level, especially if they’re in the beginning or intermediate stage of their development. The way you handle the ball largely depends on how you connect with it, and goalie gloves play a big role in how you connect with the ball.  


Entry-level gloves 

Before the Neuers, Beckers and Donnarumas of the world became household names, they had to get their hands dirty with technique. That meant using gloves that helped them develop a grasp of the ball and goalkeeping basics. 

Entry-level gloves need to strike a balance between offering hand protection, while allowing young and new keepers to develop a feel for the ball. The fingers of young keepers are prone to injury, so finger protection such as finger spines is a good feature. But it shouldn’t get in the way of mobility, because young keepers need to be able to grip the ball properly. It’s the only way they can develop superior ball control.    

So what do we recommend for entry-level gloves? Here’s a look at our top pics from our selection. 

  • Gladiator Recruit 3 glove - Features a flat palm cut that’s comfortable for new goalkeepers, and finger-spines (except in the thumbs) for finger protection. 
  • Gladiator Challenger 3 glove - Contains removable finger spines for hand protection, and a hybrid cut with premium latex for superior ball control. 
  • Silencer Sly glove - Sports removable finger spines to protect against hand injuries, and Basic German latex and molded special punch zones to provided added ball control. 
  • Mid-level gloves

    Once you put your reps in, you need to level-up your gloves. At the intermediate level, keepers should be comfortable with the ball and strong handling techniques. Of course, there’s still room to sharpen their handling skills at this stage, and that’s where mid-level gloves come in. 

    There should be less focus on finger protection, and more on ball control. Mid-level gloves should also feel less rigid and offer a decent amount of flexibility since finger dexterity contributes to ball control too. 

    Our main recommendation for mid-level gloves is the following pick:

  • Gladiator Contender 3 glove - Features a roll flat cut with roll thumbs and fingertips for superior grip and ergonomic palms for extra flexibility. It also contains German premium latex and textured punch zones to increase ball control. 
  • Advanced/Elite-level gloves  

    At the top, you can get more choosy with goalie gloves, as long as they feel like a natural extension of your hands. Of course, that doesn’t mean any pair will do. When you’re training and playing at an advanced or elite level, your gloves need to withstand a higher level of wear-and-tear and difficult shots. 

    Advanced gloves usually come with more hybrid constructions and features to give a blend of hand protection, flexibility, grip, ball control, and durability. It can be a challenge to find gloves that deliver in all of that, but finding such a pair contributes to effortless performance. 

    For the top-performers out there, we recommend the following professional-level gloves from our selection. 

  • Gladiator Pro 3 Glove - One of our top sellers, the Gladiator Pro 3 contains the highest grade of German latex for the best palm and impact protection, and an embossed palm for extra flexibility. It also has textured punch zones to increase ball control and make the glove feel more secure. 
  • Gladiator Elite 3 Glove - Features Super-Soft Storelli latex and a flat palm cut with roll thumb construction for superior grip and ball handling. It also has an embossed palm for added flexibility and impact foam for extra tackiness. 

  • Determine skill level to choose your goalie gloves wisely

    Of course, to match your skill level with goalie glove choice, you’ll have to take an honest look at your current stage of GK development. There can be some subjectivity here, but assessing your skill level isn’t a guessing game. If anything, it’s actually straightforward.  

    What league are you playing in?

    A fairly easy way to assess your skill level as a keeper is to look at your league. In other words, at what level do you play? A young goalkeeper at a house league level will do well with an entry-level glove. But if you’re an older keeper playing in a development league, then you’re better off getting a professional glove. It’s really that simple. 

    Years of play  

    Your tenure on the pitch isn’t a guarantee of your skill level, but it’s a good indicator. Naturally, older players will have more skill than younger ones. Of course, you can ignore this if you’re dealing with a prodigious keeper who’s so talented, they outshine players who are much older. 

    What feels best 

    This tip applies to more experienced players— knowing what gloves you feel most confident in can help you pick the best ones. Don’t always follow the “rules” except the one that says “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. So, even if you’re an elite player but find a mid-level glove works best for you, stick with it. The glove that gives you the best performance, regardless of its type, is the one you need. 

    Don’t Forget the Basics

    Of course, don’t forget the basics of goalie glove selection, especially, sizing. It’s such an obvious aspect of picking the right ones, that even seasoned keepers and parents of goalies can forget. Ultimately, what you want is a snug or slightly relaxed fit—nothing too tight or loose. Taking accurate measurements is the key to glove sizing. 

    In case you need a reminder, here are some basic tips for measurement. 

    1. Measure the circumference of your palm, right under your knuckles. Don’t measure the thumb.
    2. Round up to the next inch (whole inch, no quarters or halves), then add 1” to determine your size. 
    3. Do this for both hands.
    4. Order a larger size if one hand is larger or smaller than the other (this is very common). 

    Combining your experience level with accurate measurements helps you choose a winning pair of gloves. Going back to what Mark Lawrenson said, we can say this instead: 

    “If you’re a goalkeeper, it matters what you save the ball with, because the right gloves will help you keep more goals out”.

    Looking to get your next pair of winning goalie gloves? Browse through our selection goalie gloves and dominate the box!
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