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Taking Care of your Goalkeeping Gloves

by Christian Benjamin, KeeperStop.com

To a serious goalkeeper, gloves are just as important as cleats. Gloves help a keeper control a shot, provide protection, and comfort. Part of learning about being a goalkeeper is to also understand how to take care of the equipment that protects you from the elements and stinging attackers' shots.

Until we turn pro or own an Internet company specializing in goalkeeper equipment and education , you or your parents are responsible for buying your own gloves. Match gloves are not cheap. Gloves don’t last forever, maybe a season if you are lucky.

The reality is: the more expensive the glove, the better the grip but the less the glove lasts. Super Soft and sticky latex palms found in professional grade gloves provide exceptional grip but not much in durability.

Here are helpful tips to increase the life of your gloves:

  • Buy the Correct Size – If gloves are too big or small it not only can affect your performance but also accelerates the wear and tear of the gloves. Fingers that are in gloves that are too big or small can put stress on the latex and the seams causing premature breakdown or tears. When sizing your gloves, your fingers should be no less than a ¼ inch from the top and no more than ½ inch.
  • Know your palm latex – Purchase a glove based on your playing surface and weather conditions. Know whether your glove and latex is best suited for all weather, dry conditions, wet conditions, hard ground, or natural surfaces. Soft tacky professional grade latex palms that are used for “All Weather” or “dry weather” and soft “natural surfaces” should be moist while playing. A wet weather glove requires care and soaking pre match and potentially at half time. Only wet weather gloves are good in the rain. A glove designed for futsal, turf, or hard ground isn’t porous and should not be soaked with water since it will make the glove slippery. A Super Soft tacky glove will breakdown on harsh indoor surfaces and hard ground. Read the instructions or ask your friendly keeperstop.com professional how to care for your glove.
  • In match care – With softer latex gloves you need to moisten the palm again with water as it dries. Spit only goes so far. Super Soft latex palms can become slippery when wet. Figure out the correct balance before your match to avoid wearing sponges when you need the gripping power the most.
  • Training Gloves – To insure your game gloves are in the best shape possible don’t practice with them. Buy a relatively inexpensive training glove that can take the beating of training. Once your game gloves start to show considerable signs of wear relegate them to the practice field and purchase a new pair. It is important to have 1 pair strictly for matches and another for training.
  • Clean your gloves – Dirt and sweat break down the latex of the glove. Dirt acts as sandpaper and dries the soft, tacky, porous latex into a hard crusty surface. The toxins in your sweat also can dry out the gloves over time. Rinsing the gloves after a game will help wash the spit, sweat, and dirt away. How to clean:
    1. Wash your gloves with luke-warm water.
    2. Gently squeeze excess water out. Wringing can tear the seam.
    3. A mild detergent can be used to help with the smell and really dirty jobs but it is not necessary. Sells Goalkeeper Products and Reusch make a detergent that is designed for sensitive latex.
    4. Hang dry.
    5. NEVER ever accelerate the drying process with dryers, the sun, or dehumidifiers. Don’t keep in a sunny car to bake either. All the above will take the natural moisture out of the gloves causing them to be dry and brittle.
  • Proper Storage – After a game don’t throw your gloves in a bag and forget about them until the next game. If your next game is tomorrow then wipe the dirt of the palm with a moist glove towel. Washing them for tomorrow’s game may cause the gloves to be too wet. If that is the case, wrap the gloves in a moist glove towel to keep them moist for tomorrow’s game. You don’t want your gloves drying with the dirt and sweat in the palm. Over time dirt and sweat will absorb the natural moisture of the palm causing the glove to dry, crack, and peel. Don’t store your gloves more than a day wet since they will stink and begin to grow fungi. When storing your gloves don’t place them with palms together since they can stick together and rip when trying to separate. A glove bag is the best way to store your gloves. The latex needs to breathe.

The modern goalkeeper relies on their gloves. Professionals with sponsorships have the ability to discard their gloves after 1 or 2 matches but the rest of us don’t have that luxury. We need to care for our gloves to make sure they last as long as we need them.

Christian Benjamin, owner of www.keeperstop.com, has been a keeper for close to 20 years, has been training keepers and coaches for over 10 years. Keeperstop.com can help you purchase the appropriate glove for your needs and within your budget. Email info@keeperstop.com or call: 508-221-6819 for questions.

(Note: Christian Benjamin is not related to Jeff Benjamin, author of JB Goalkeeping.)

© 2007 Jeff Benjamin, all rights reserved