I have noticed lately with young goalkeepers at both my goalkeeping school and at the Centre of Excellence at Swindon where I coach that a few have been wearing seriously worn goalkeeping gloves, some with virtually no grip left on them. I have also noticed a couple of young goalkeepers with gloves that are perhaps too big for them.
Certainly gloves have in the past been very expensive, I know I used to pay between £40-50 for a pair of Sells gloves but nowadays every man and his dog are producing their own branded glove and this has brought the price down. I have my own branded glove and let me state that the topic of this blog is in no way a plug to get people to buy my gloves. I am not into "hard sell" as some are out there in the market place. Mine are readily available to purchase but I do not force them upon people, everybody has a choice and if they want to purchase mine, thats great.
The main reason for this topic of blog is that I feel it is important that each goalkeeper gives themself the best chance to to develop and improve and having a good pair of gloves will certainly help. "We used to play without gloves!!" will come the cry from past goalkeepers from the Seventies i'm sure but time and science has moved on particularly with regard the make up of the modern football used these days. Many have a shiny plastic like coating to them which when dry is hard enough to grip but when wet is like trying to catch the proverbial "bar of soap". Learning the correct techniques to catch the ball is clearly very important but a good pair of gloves will also help as they are the "tools of the trade" for a goalkeeper.
What size gloves should a goalkeeper wear? The glove needs to fit comfortably, it won't help if they are too tight and it certainly won't help if they are too big and your hands are flopping about inside them. As you get older you get to know what size gloves you are generally although different brands and styles can fit slightly differently. With regard a young goalkeeper its a case of trying a few pairs on to see what fits best and obviously kids grow quite fast so hand size can obviously change fairly quickly as well.
What style of glove should a goalkeeper wear? I get asked that question and often get asked whether a young goalkeeper should wear "fingersave gloves." These are gloves which have plastic inserts in the back of the gloves along the fingers which give support to the fingers. You can get "flat palm" style gloves, "negative cut" style gloves and "roll finger" style gloves. The honest answer is that it is purely down to what the goalkeeper feels comfortable in, there is no right or wrong. I would advise over a period of time trying a few different styles until you decide what you feel most happy with. My own personal opinion is that I don't like "fingersave gloves" as I feel it restricts my hand movement and doesn't feel comfortable and I have my doubts that it would really stop you injuring a finger. My own personal choice is a "roll finger style" as this is what feels comfortable for me and pretty much always has done and I feel that I have a good grip on the ball with these.
How much should I pay? Again this will come down to your choice or perhaps how much you can actually afford! Some gloves go up to as much as £100 a pair but I find that absolutely ludicrous and cannot see how anyone can justify selling gloves at that price or justify buying them for that matter. I feel that with the amount of people out there now producing and selling gloves you would reasonably expect to pay between £15 & £30 for a pair.
How long will the gloves last? This will depend on many factors:-
Firstly as I said there are many brands out there, though a big proportion of those brands will be buying from similar if not the same manufacturers with a big percentage of them coming from companies in Pakistan.
How often the gloves are worn will play a part as if you use them 3-4 times a week they will obviously deteriorate quicker than if used only once or twice a week. What type of pitches you use them on can play a part, be it muddy, hard, astro turf or the latest 3G surfaces as often when a goalkeeper has made a diving save and he gets up he may well push off the floor to get back up and this will produce wear & tear.
My advice would be to have a couple of pairs on the go at any one time so one pair as your best for matches and one pair for training. Then when the ones you use for training start to get bad, throw them away and start using your match gloves and buy a new pair for matches and keep repeating that cycle.
When you have used your gloves either for a match or for training its important that you then clean them as this will also have an affect on both performance of the gloves and how long they last. If you don't wash them the mud will dry on the glove and this will dry out the latex and reduce the quality of the grip and length of life of the gloves. My advice is against putting them in the washing machine as the chemicals used in washing powder will also harm the latex. I also advise against drying them in an airing cupboard, tumble dryer or on a radiator as this will also dry out the latex and affect quality of grip, performance and length of life of the gloves.
Over the years I have always done the following: Purchase some goalkeeping glove wash which you can get from between £7 - £9 per bottle from www.just-keepers.com. Fill a sink half full with warm water with a small amount of the glove wash and allow the gloves to soak in this for 5-10 minutes. Then I use an old tooth brush which has gone soft and I brush the dirt from the gloves with this. Next I rinse the gloves out thoroughly with cold water and squeeze firmly but not too hard to get the excess water out. I then lay them on an old towel in the corner of the room out of direct sunlight and allow them to dry naturally. This has always been the process I have used and its worked for me.
To repeat what I stated earlier its obviously important to learn the various goalkeeping techniques and how to catch the ball but having a pair of gloves that aren't worn through with no grip left and holes everywhere will certainly help.