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There’s a lot more to being a successful goalkeeper that the average football spectator often doesn’t take into account.
In fact, I hold the opinion that goalkeepers are perhaps the most under-appreciated players in football, having played in the position myself at youth level for a number of years.
As a goalkeeper you have to stand in the correct positions, know precisely when to come and collect a cross from a set piece or from open play, as well as having the calmness to coolly distribute the ball to the outfield players with either foot.
Most importantly however, you’ve got to be able to stop the powerful and swerving oncoming shots from hitting the back of your net – either by catching or parrying them.
At the lower levels of the footballing pyramid, goalkeeping can often be a thankless job.
Which is why I was inspired to write a detailed breakdown of the best goalkeeper gloves that are available in today’s market, tailored to help goalkeepers aspiring to compete at the very highest levels to the more casual performers who need a quality pair of gloves for the Sunday afternoon game.
What I found particularly interesting when conducting my research was that none of the usual premium brands were at the top of the recommendation or best seller lists – the likes of Nike, Adidas, Puma and Under Armour look to be lagging behind their lesser known counterparts in the goalkeeping department.
It’s quite apparent that the specialist brands in this department can offer comparable – and in most cases – better quality gloves than the usual headliners for a fraction of the latter’s price.
So to cut to the chase for the readers who require a quick answer, after a thorough analysis of the pros and cons, I feel that the best goalkeeper gloves all round are the Renegade GK Fury Goalie Gloves .
Hopefully this will make interesting reading for others as I personally find it refreshing to discover new brands that create quality products.
As with all my previous product roundup posts that I’ve published so far – best goals posts for the garden and best GPS sports vests – I shall begin by answering a couple of frequently asked questions that pertain to goalkeeping.
Let’s start with the basics…
What Components Make Up a Goalkeeper Glove?
Every goalkeeping glove that is manufactured today consists of four key components that work together in unison to provide the ultimate shot stopping and ball handling experience for a goalkeeper.
The backhand of a goalkeeping glove should have a level of padding that is more than adequate for any amateur or professional. The padding on the backhand helps to protect the user’s hand when the athlete is forced to punch the ball away with considerable force.
It goes without saying that gloves with better or more padding are better, although the quality level of the padding does not necessarily increase in line with the price of the product. It is said that the best gloves usually contain latex padding that is extremely durable.
The fingers of a goalkeeping glove are crucial as they are often their last line of defence when it comes to stopping an airborne shot.
Take a look at this reaction save from David de Gea in a past UEFA Champions League game against Real Madrid.
It can certainly be argued that this safely performed fingertip reflex save was made possible not only through his own outstanding technical quality as a goalkeeper, but also through the quality of the goalkeeping gloves that he was wearing.
A good pair of goalkeeping gloves will have fingers that provide a smooth range of motion as the fingers reflex and tighten during moments of force. The flexibility must be more than adequate in order to prevent bone breakage and issues like hypertension.
If the protection of your fingers is of utmost importance, I would recommend gloves that come equipped with flexible finger stays.
The palms are the part of the hand that work hard to ensure that a goalkeeper can collect and handle the ball safely.
The palms of goalkeeping gloves tend to come in two different types of textures – either embossed or smooth.
Naturally, the smoother palms are more suitable for matches because they usually contain a sticky neoprene element that aids a goalkeeper’s grasping motion. However, this sheen tends to dissipate after a while, which is why to prolong the stickiness of the glove palms, gloves with smooth palms are often only recommended to be worm on match days.
On the other side of the spectrum, gloves with embossed palms are more suited to training days as they are much more durable and the material provides greater palm longevity.
To complete the goalkeeping glove architecture is the wrists. They usually come in three different types of enclosure:
- Hook and loop – usually designed for maximum flexibility with increased elasticity and adjustable strapping
- V-notch – the “V” shape of the closure permits easy ventilation which allows a goalkeepers hands to stay dry when they are in action
- Bandage – these provide maximum wrist support as they incorporate Velcro strapping that can be wrapped once or twice around the wrist which increases wrist sturdiness and decreases the likelihood of acquiring a sprain
Types of Goalkeeper Gloves
Goalkeeper gloves can be classed into three distinct types:
- Game gloves
- Training gloves
- All-weather gloves
As the names all imply, each type of glove is for either in-game, training or multipurpose scenarios. Game gloves are usually made from premium quality latex which is designed to offer enhanced match performance in the form of greater handling and finger protection.
On the opposite side of the scale, training gloves are usually a lot more durable than game gloves but the downside with these is that they are accompanied by inferior grip functionality.
All weather gloves kind of offer the best of both worlds, although their primary aim is to protect the athlete from excessive moisture seeping into the gloves.
Cut Design of Goalkeeper Gloves
In addition to the different types of gloves available on the market, there are also distinctions when it comes to the material that the palms of gloves are made from as well as overall glove fit.
In summary, the four cut designs that you are likely to come across when purchasing a set of goalkeeper gloves are as follows:
- Flat cut – the most common cut design
- Free cut– a cut designs that provides greater glove flexibility
- Rolled cut – these provide a fairly tight fit due to the fact that the sides of each palm are rolled and stitched to the back of each glove finger
- Negative cut – these provide a much tighter fit as each glove finger is sewn together internally
- Hybrid cut – as the name suggests, this is a cut design that is a combination of one or more other cut designs
What to Look for In Goalkeeper Gloves
Comfort and Fit
As we are all biologically different, what is comfortable to one individual may be tight or loose on another.
The more premium items don’t necessarily provide the best comfort and fit either, especially as in this area of the market where gloves made by the likes of Nike, Adidas and Under Armour don’t really hold up well against some of the lesser-known specialist brands. Although this isn’t to say that “popular brand gloves” are poor in their entirety.
The general rule of thumb when it comes to goalkeeper gloves is that the premium brands often feel softer and are threaded together with noticeably higher quality internal material. Gloves that fit “just right” are difficult to discern however, as some gloves can be the right size and provide comfort that is more than adequate but just don’t quite “feel” like the right fit when worn.
So, finding gloves that are comfortable and fit your hands is more often than not a case of trying on as many gloves as you can and getting a feel for each pair!
The performance of goalkeeping gloves primarily boils down to the material that was used to manufacture them, as well as how those materials have been constructed.
A “good performing” pair of gloves will come down to how effective the latex it is made with is at allowing the user to grip and hold onto the ball with the palms of their hands, as well as the palm and wrist protection material provides from fiercely struck shots on goal.
Now that you’ve got a good grasp of the overall components and characteristics of goalkeeper gloves, as well as the factors to look out for before making a purchase, let’s look at the top recommendations.
Best All Rounder: Renegade GK Fury Goalie Gloves
The Renegade GK brand is the official face of goalkeeper gloves for both the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) and the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) in the United States.
These were the first gloves to be antimicrobial treated, which effectively kills 99.9% of bacteria, mold, fungi and other microbes all whilst offering long term residual protection that is gentle to the skin as well.
These gloves are available in sizes 7 to 11 and come with three different cut options – roll cut, roll hybrid cut and negative cut.
Additionally, they are built for maximum finger protection and punch performance as they come equipped with Endo-Tek Pro Fingersave protection. Unlike most other Fingersaves, these do not bend backwards when force is applied.
All gloves in the Fury range use superior performance German Giga grip pro-level latex which affords users greater grip and ball control.
Here’s a quick video that showcases the best of these gloves:
This product ticks most of the boxes that a goalkeeper would want, as they are comfortable to wear; provide extra protection through Fingersave and afford the user a high level of grip and control, all at a reasonable price.
Best Premium Option: Reusch Fit Control Pro G3 Fusion Goalkeeper Gloves
At the higher end of the budget we have the Resuch G3 Fusion gloves.
Resuch is a highly reputable manufacturer of goalkeeping gloves with several years of experience in the sports apparel production industry.
The sophistication of these gloves is certainly something to marvel at.
They come with an advanced palm foam that is embedded within the latex mixture along with other special additives and adhesives, ultimately enhancing the gripping properties of the glove.
The gloves also feature ORTHO-TEC patented protection which safeguards the user’s backhand, thumbs and fingers during performance.
Despite the high price, these gloves are built for performance and are produced by a respected international brand, so the build quality of these gloves is something that you can definitely count on.
Another premium alternative worth mentioning is the Storelli ExoShield Gladiator Pro 2 Gloves. These gloves are built to withstand forceful shots and heavy impact with the ball and the ground.
Best Mid-Range Option: T1TAN Goalkeeper Gloves with Finger Protection
Here we have a pair of gloves that have been manufactured by a business start-up in Germany.
Now before you get sceptical, it’s worth bearing in mind that in a business sense, start-ups can afford to pay more attention to detail with their products and they are likely to be more receptive to customer feedback with regard to making product improvements.
This is in fact the case with the company that made these gloves, as they have collaborated with and drawn heavily on the expertise of former Germany national team goalkeeper Rene Adler to develop gloves that cater to the needs of both the professionals and the amateurs of the footballing world.
These gloves are a negative cut, which provides a snug fit with each finger slot wrapping fairly tightly around one’s fingers.
The gloves also come with gecko-like hand grip and an adhesive foam coated wrist bandage and velcro fastener that aids with the extension of the catching surface.
Best Budget Option: Precision GK Heatwave II Junior Goalkeeper Gloves
You will struggle to find a pair of gloves as good as these for the price on offer here.
These gloves – crafted with input from Aston Villa goalkeeper Tom Heaton – are an excellent option for the more casual and junior goalkeepers.
The gloves are of the roll thumb cut; come in a variety of different sizes and offer protection from weather extremes due to the presence of special glove body backhand fabric.
Another great budget option is the GK Saver Negative Cut Passion Black Football Goalkeeper Gloves.
These gloves are very well reviewed and unlike other options, come with the choice of personalisation. So, if you wish to have your name or initials engraved, you simply send the seller your name requirement after you’ve made the purchase. Pretty neat!
Best Youth Goalie Gloves: Sportout Youth Adult Goalkeeper Gloves
Sportout is an internationally acclaimed brand that sells its products in more than 50 different countries.
They’ve produced something special here with these fantastic goalkeeper gloves.
Firstly, they are built for the toughest saves through the combination of anti-slip and wear-resistant latex palms which provide good grip and ball control even in wet and blustery weather conditions.
They also provide protection from hyper-extension type finger injuries through the BACKBONE finger save system and thick padded latex foam that provides ample palm cushioning.
More so, the gloves come equipped with a double-designed wristband featuring an elastic lining layer that promotes more effective contraction of the wrist muscles and offers greater protection against wrist sprains.
The glove fingers also boast a breathable mesh that aids with air ventilation, thereby keeping the hands cool during activity.
Sportout’s gloves cater for the Sunday League level goalkeepers as much as the academy youngsters who aspire to be professionals. They are well constructed pair of gloves and plenty of reviews attest to their sturdiness and durability.
Best for Grip: UHLSport Radar SuperGrip Goalkeeper Gloves
If you’re after a pair of gloves that will allow you to hold onto the ball with a firm, comfortable grip after every shot then look no further than these.
Have a look at the short video below which displays the best qualities of these gloves:
Best for Beginner Goalies: Blok-iT Goalkeeper Gloves
I distinctly remember what it felt like when I first played in goal.
It was a nervy experience and the lack of confidence I had in myself at the time playing in this position contributed to a poor performance.
With these gloves, you can rest assured that as a beginner, you will be able to build on your performances game after game.
The gloves come with finger saver protection and tough shielding on the back, which reduces the damage from impacts with the ball and the ground. These are important because as a beginner you are likely to lack physical training with regard to diving correctly as well as the technique to catch the ball with minimal risk of injury.
The Velcro wrist support that comes with this product ensures a tight and secure fit on the hands. There are few things worse than having a loose-fitting pair of gloves, as they make handling and grasping onto shots more difficult.
Best for Finger and Wrist Protection: FitsT4 Sports Goalkeeper Gloves
One thing that pretty much all footballers detest is picking up injuries.
I recall a not so comfortable experience when I was playing as a goalkeeper in my youth. I was one on one with a forward and he blasted the ball right at me. It hit me face first and I fell backwards into the goal and lost my bearings for a few seconds. It’s safe to say that was a moment that I would not wish upon anyone!
Being a goalkeeper places strenuous physical demands on certain areas of your body like your arms and hands. And rightly so, some goalkeepers would like to protect these body parts in the best way possible.
The FitsT4 goalkeeper gloves do just this.
They come with a tacky 3mm foam that rests under wear resistant German latex, thereby providing maximum impact support and a good level of grip for even the most adverse of weather conditions.
Additionally, the gloves are equipped with Fingersave support and a double wrist safeguard. The latter provides an elastic protective layer that serves to tighten wrist muscles and reduce the risk of wrist sprains.
Phew! That was some list!
Now that you are fully aware of the best goalkeeper gloves on the market, I’ll wrap up this blog post with a few answers to some of the most frequently asked questions that prospective customers and goalkeepers tend to ask.
How Long Should a Good Pair of Goalie Gloves Last?
This depends on a number of internal and external variables. I’ll list a few:
- On pitch conditions – things like mud and sad can damage gloves if exposure to these elements is frequent or prolonged, and artificial turf can increase wear and tear on gloves due to the increased friction from falling to ground to make saves causes
- Quantity and quality of shots faced – a goalkeeper having to deal with numerous shots that are struck with power will have their gloves damaged at a quicker rate due to increased usage
- Quality of the gloves themselves – a self-explanatory point. Greater quality gloves are more durable and therefore take longer to wear out from consistent use.
In addition to this, the more effort a person puts in to extending the life of the gloves they wear, the more life and use they will get out of their pairs.
Ultimately, gloves designed for games usually last for 12 -14 matches before they have to be “relegated” to use in practice sessions only. Others cite 10-15 games as the threshold.
This naturally leads me onto the next question…
Why Must Goalkeeper Gloves Be Kept Clean?
Cleaning your goalkeeper gloves and drying them correctly prolongs their useful life.
Care must be taken to wash the gloves properly inside and out, as well as drying them accordingly, as any moisture trapped inside can cause the gloves to begin to smell.
If you fail to clean your gloves regularly, the dirt particles that linger on the glove after use make the gloves dry and brittle which then weaken the inner fibres of the glove.
After a while of not cleaning them you may start to notice parts of the fabric peeling off, which is something that can be avoided quite effectively through washing and drying them off consistently.
Why do Goalkeepers Spit on Their Gloves?
As someone who used to aspire to become a professional footballer, you pick up on some of the peculiar behaviours and mannerisms that professional footballers make.
Especially if you’re watching a football match on the telly, you’ll often notice instances where the goalkeepers spit into the palms of their gloves and subsequently rub them together.
The answer to this isn’t complicated at all.
They do this to increase glove grip as the moisture and wetness that the spit provides activates the latex, making the palms of the gloves stickier which aids with functions like catching and holding onto footballs.
Perhaps this is a habit that you can pick up and apply to your practice sessions and matches!
Do Professional Goalkeepers Get New Gloves Every Game?
There is no definitive answer to this question.
Professional goalkeepers do have the luxury of being able to wear new gloves every game afforded to them, but people are inherently different.
Therefore, you’re likely to find that some change their gloves every game whilst others prefer to wear the same pair for a couple of games in succession. It’s also important to keep in mind that professional keepers will have different pairs of gloves for training sessions and matches, so they can have pairs of training gloves as well as a special pair saved for club matches.
Do Professional Keepers Use Fingersave?
Fingersave is essentially additional finger protection for goalkeeper gloves. The protection takes the shape of individual finger inserts which are placed on each finger except for the thumb.
The decision to use Fingersave for a professional goalkeeper would usually be based on whether the extra protection that this provides would compromise the existing comfort levels of the gloves that they are wearing.
From what I’ve seen and read, most goalkeepers tend not to use Fingersave and prefer the flexibility and control that not wearing Fingersave gloves provides.
Why do Goalkeepers Tape their Fingers and Wrists Before Wearing Goalkeeping Gloves?
Goalkeepers usually tape their fingers and wrists to provide themselves with better support for stopping oncoming shots and to prevent injury.
Taping them prevents excessive movement, which can be particularly helpful in preventing finger injuries caused by a hard-struck ball bending one’s fingers beyond their normal range of flexibility.
I hope this post has been a thoroughly insightful read for all goalkeepers out there.
At the end of the day, as a goalkeeper you want a pair of gloves that satisfies your needs for comfort and performance. The recommendations in this post are well reviewed and provide a range of options for both the free spenders and the price conscious.