The only piece of equipment a goalie has over the other players is his gloves, as he needs to hold the ball with his hands to protect his team from conceding any goals …
… However, they seem to be really big, much bigger than the size of their actual hands which might seem a little weird.
In this article, I breakdown the reasons that make goalie gloves that big and how they’ve evolved over the years!
Why are soccer goalie gloves so big?
For a goalkeeper gloves provide mainly protection, comfort, and grip!
Protection of the hands is important because a soccer ball can be kicked at speeds of up to 130 km per hour, and gloves are designed to withstand the impact on behalf of the hands. Without gloves, the hands could get bruised and fingers broken.
Gloves should also be comfortable allowing the hands to move and not to feel too restrictive. The extra size allows the hands to breathe and not to perspire too much.
They should also enable the goalkeeper to grip the ball and hold on to shots where possible, rather than drop the ball at the feet of incoming forwards. Professional players often wear soft and sticky latex gloves because of the extra grip that they provide.
When and how did they get that big?
Prior to the 1940s, goalkeepers did not wear gloves at all and, in an era when footballs were much heavier, particularly when it was wet and they absorbed moisture, many goalkeepers ended-up with hand, wrist and finger injuries as a result.
Nothing in the original rules of the game precluded goalkeepers wearing gloves, and there may have been the occasional keeper who chose to wear woolen gloves, but, for many years, it was the practice not to use them.
The first man to popularize wearing them was the Argentinian Amadeo Carrizo, who played for River Plate in the 1940s and 1950s, but their importance was really underlined by the 1950 World Cup Final. Brazil lost that match to Uruguay on home soil, and their custodian Moacir Barbosa, who refused to wear them, was blamed for the defeat.
Gradually they became more common in the 1960s and 1970s, but Gordon Banks for example, the England goalkeeper widely regarded as one of the finest of all time, only began wearing them as an experiment at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.
Four years later Sepp Maier, the German goalkeeper, became the first man to start using supersized gloves that have become common subsequently.
In the decade that followed, manufacturers began to experiment more with their design, especially when it came to grip, sampling a variety of materials until latex became standard.
Since then, the technology has advanced further, and modern goalkeepers have a choice between flat-palmed gloves, snug-fitting cut gloves, and heavily padded roll finger gloves.
Soccer Glove recommendation
EFAH Goalie Gloves (Check them Here on Amazon) are my favorites so far!
These gloves come in a variety of sizes and are suitable for men and women, adult players, and juniors.
They feature foam padding and fingersave protection to help keep the hands safe and supported, minimising the risk of injury, whilst at the same time providing grip and control when handling the ball.
Made of material which enables the hands to breathe without excessive sweating, they offer a tight but comfortable fit, and come with quick release wrist supports.
You can also use additional wrists for more support if you feel you need to … You can learn more about why soccer players need wrists!
But How do you know that the gloves size fits properly?
Before buying gloves, players should measure both their hands first, bearing in mind that each hand can be of a different size.
To obtain the best fit, it is recommended measuring the circumference of the widest part of the palm excluding the thumb, and then rounding this up to the nearest inch and then adding a further inch to allow the hand room to move.
It is not an exact science, though, because there are usually slight variations in gloves ostensibly of the same size, depending on the manufacturer and their quality.
Goalkeepers come in all shapes and sizes and some have longer fingers than others, so the following is an indicative guide only as to the right measurements:
Junior Size 4 or 5: Appropriate for a goalkeeper in the 7 to 9 age range and between 4 feet six and eight inches tall.
Size 6 or 7: Should fit a medium to larger youth keeper aged between ten and twelve. Suggested height between 4 feet 10 and 5 feet.
Size 7 (Adult): Should fit either a small adult or a large youth keeper. Height range 5 feet two to four inches.
Size 8: Small to medium adult keeper. Typical height between 5 feet 4 and 7 inches.
Size 9: Medium adult keeper in the five feet 8-to-ten-inch height range.
Size 10: Medium to large adult keeper, Height 5 feet 10 to 6 feet.
Size 11: For a large keeper – typically around 6 feet 2 inches in height.
Size 12: For the giants among the goalkeeping fraternity,
What are they made from?
Goalkeeper gloves consist of two main parts: The backhand and the palm, often made of different materials.
All palms these days are made of latex, but only the best type of gloves – those worn by professionals, for example – are made of latex on the backhand as well. Cheaper gloves tend to sue form padding on the backhand.
Should those gloves be tight?
Gloves should be well-fitted, but they should not be tight because that can restrict the movement and make them uncomfortable.
Too tight gloves and hands will begin to sweat and stiffen up. That is why it is always recommended that an extra inch over the length of a player’s finger should be considered when deciding what size to pick.
However, any more than that is too much and can have a negative impact on the way that somebody plays.
At the same time, allowance should be made for the length of a goalkeeper’s fingers. If they are not sized right, the latex material can become stretched, and the seams of the glove might tear.
The most important area of a soccer goalie’s glove is the palm grip because that is used to grasp the ball. Generally, the more expensive the glove, the better the grip.
Softer palms have better grip, but they are not as durable as those with rougher palms which contain more rubber than latex and are more suited for indoor soccer or futsal.
Glove palms come in varying degrees of thickness. Thicker palms – 4 mm – offer the greater degree of protection but thinner ones allow the goalkeeper to feel the ball better.
Do soccer gloves leave room for finger protection?
Soccer gloves do offer finger protection, but the degree provided depends to a certain extent on their cut.
There are four basic types.
1. Flat or traditional
Flat or traditional cut gloves incorporate a single piece of flat foam, are chunkier in design and have external stitching.
2. Roll or Gunn cut
These use rolled-finger construction, so-called because the seams are on the back of the fingers and role. These gloves have a tight fit and have a larger contact area with the ball.
3. Negative Cut
With this type of glove, the seam is on the inside. It has the tightest fit of any glove and is suitable for goalkeepers with small hands or female players.
4. Hybrid gloves
They incorporate several cuts but usually feature a combination of rolled and either flat or negative cut gloves.
Does this apply to kids’ soccer gloves?
Inevitably kids’ gloves are smaller, and depending on age and the child’s height, somewhere between a size four and size seven will be an appropriate size for them.
Is this the same for other sports?
Soccer gloves differ from those used in other sports both in terms of materials and the size of the glove.
For example, baseball gloves can be made from a range of materials like leather, cotton, or rubber, but a regular glove is much larger – 9 inches, with a specially designed pocket for keeping the ball.
Softball gloves tend to be larger still – 12 inches is a standard size – and again they can be made of cotton, leather, and rubber.
Boxing gloves are usually made either from thin cowhide or synthetic leather, which is used where the intention is to cut costs.
Traditionally they were lined with horsehair but, although that is still used, it is more common nowadays for them either to have a foam layering or to feature Injection Moulded Foam (IMF). Boxing gloves are also much heavier – they can range from 2 ounces for those designed for children up to 20 ounces for the largest heavyweights.
Boxers also should not choose a glove that fits their hand, because rarely don’t they wear them directly against the skin. Instead, it is normal practice to wrap the hand and this needs to be considered when choosing the right size.
Gloves are not mandatory in American football, but some receivers choose to wear them to aid catching of the ball because they find it easier to grip in cold conditions. They tend to be tight fitting and made with a linen material, although linesmen would wear thicker ones to protect the different parts of their fingers and hands. Protection, though, is less of a factor than grip. Even the quarterback with the hardest arm would find it hard to throw the ball at anything above 70 km/hour.
Final Thoughts …
This was a burning question for me also! I was really wondering why those gloves are oversized like that … Hopefully this article has answered that to the best of your expectations!
One more thing (advice), if you play as a goalkeeper, then I highly invite you to use the best possible gloves (like the ones I’ve recommended above)! Protecting your hands is extremely important!!