Special Privileges Mean Special Equipment
Goalkeepers have one of the most unique positions in soccer because not only are they allowed to use their hands like everyone else, but they have to be great with them! Their primary job is to keep the ball out of the goal.
Over the years as soccer has evolved so have goalkeeper gloves. Now there are at least half a dozen different brands worldwide which makes figuring out the best soccer goalie gloves for your game a real headache.
To start, let’s go over the different cuts of goalie gloves and the benefits of each.
What Are the Different Cuts of Goalie Gloves?
In the beginning, keeper gloves all generally came in one cut: Flat Palm.
If you’ve ever worn a pair of flat palm soccer goalie gloves from the old days like we have, you know that while they got the job done, they didn’t really conform to your hand. What you gained in protection you definitely lost in mobility and control.
This led to the development of three additional cuts, each with its own characteristics: the Roll Finger Cut, the Negative Cut, and the Hybrid Cut.
Let’s break down the benefits and drawbacks of each cut.
1. Flat Cut Gloves
- Original Cut
- Simple Construction
- Many Different Brand Options
- Looser Fit
- Unfinished Look
- Less Control and Mobility
2. Roll Finger Cut Gloves
- Maximum latex contact
- No Gussets
- Variety of Styles and Brands Available
- Less Snug
- Less Surface Area
3. Negative Cut Gloves
- Cutting Edge Technology
- Internal Stitching and Gussets
- Most Snug Fit
- Maximum Control
- Least Amount of Surface Area
- Less Durable
- Higher Price Point
4. Hybrid Cut Gloves
- Strong Combination of Styles
- More Features
- Unique Properties
- Experimental Quality Issues
- Specific Cuts May Not Be Repeated
Besides these four cuts, the other major difference in modern goalie gloves is the structure and style of the wrist support.
Should Keeper Gloves Ditch the Wrist Strap?
The majority of modern goalkeeper gloves are going to have a wrist strap. The wrist strap represents the classic fit and structure that every keeper at every level is going to be familiar with.
Only recently have companies started to experiment with entirely different glove structures that remove the wrist strap for the ultimate second-skin fit. From our experience, most styles that ditch the wrist strap suffer from durability issues. This may change in the future, but it’s something to keep in mind, and you’ll want to be especially careful while taking strapless goalie gloves off.
Ultimately, much of what goes into the final decision for your glove comes down to preference, and that’s something you’ll develop as time goes on.
Here’s a great video from goalkeeping living legend Manuel Neuer where he talks about what he likes in his gloves. One of the things you’ll notice is Neuer prefers gloves with wrist straps:
Now that we’ve covered the different cuts and wrist support options let’s cover the best way for you to size your hand for optimal fit.
Goalkeeper Glove Size Guide
There are two easy measurements you have to make in order to find the appropriate soccer goalie glove size for your hand, but first, we need to go over proper positioning for measuring your hand.
Many people instinctively think they need to spread their fingers as wide as possible for an accurate measurement. This is incorrect! You want to position your hands in an “athletic ready” position, or how they’re going to be when you see a ball incoming. This will help to provide a more accurate or true fit.
Once you have your hand position set, below are the following two measurements you’ll need to make:
- Height – This measurement should be taken from the tip of your middle finger to the end of your palm, or what some people refer to as the “heel” of your hand. You can expect approximately half a centimeter of variance in your measurement.
- Width – When it comes to goalie gloves you measure the width from the tip of your thumb to the edge of your palm, not the tip of your pinky. This is a common mistake! Again, your measurement should be a straight line from the tip of your thumb across the top of your palm (the sockets for each finger) to the edge of your hand, where your pinky meets your palm.
Before we look at some of the best styles we had the pleasure of researching and testing, we’ve got one last important note to go over durability.
What Do Soccer Gloves Protect From?
It reads like a trick question, but we promise it isn’t. What do soccer goalie gloves protect from?
They protect from soccer balls, that’s it. They do not protect your hands from the ground, artificial surfaces, other players, or even weather conditions. When you dive onto the ground you need to keep your palms up, or else your gloves aren’t going to make it through the practice week!
If you watched that Manuel Neuer video closely, you’ll remember he says that he goes through 2 pairs of gloves within 3 games, and he always packs two pairs of gloves for games.
It’s important to remember that no pair of gloves is forever, and the more contact the gloves make with things that are not soccer balls, the faster they’re going to wear out.
A Note on Goalie Gloves Finger Savers
You’ll notice that we recommend a few pairs of gloves with finger savers. Many manufacturers offer their gloves with removable finger savers because, as with many things, it comes down to preference. Many goalkeepers dislike them, but others love them.
The idea is good: Create extra support and protection for your fingers when blocking shots. However, that can reduce the mobility of the fingers. This is even more problematic for youth players.
Our resident goalkeeper expert, Todd Hoffard, says, “I never recommend finger savers for young players. If they use them, they usually don’t have the strength to bend their fingers. Which makes it hard for them to grip the ball. Let alone make a fist. This can lead to frustration and many dropped balls.”
So if you are buying gloves for your youth player, if they come with finger savers, make sure they are removable!
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s go over some of the best goalkeeper gloves available for whatever level you’re looking to play at.
Our Favorite Goalkeeper Gloves
The adidas Predator Pro is our editor’s choice not only because it has the latest sports technology and features, but really it’s because it is by far the coolest. The 3D-printed DEMONSKIN backhand and sleeves feel like putting on a whole new attitude.
We also love the separated fingers and palms, you definitely will feel the flexibility and difference when you put them on rather than the traditional one-piece palm. It feels much more true to your hand than other designs. The half-negative cut also provides an incredibly snug fit, unlike any other pair of gloves we’ve worn or tested. The Soft Grip Pro will make sure you don’t butter-finger any balls. Italian keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma prefers this model which substitutes the wrist strap support for a long sleeve.
- Flexible Palm
- True Hand Feel
- Snug, Comfortable Fit
- Separated fingers for better movement
- High Price Point
- Single Colorway
- No Strap, Less Wrist Support
Designed around the same elements as the Predator Pros that made our editor’s choice, there are two distinct differences with these gloves that set them apart from the Predator Pro Hybrid we just covered.
- These have a wrist strap for a more traditional and secure lockdown fit. While wrist straps are far from the latest technology, they are still trusted by some of the best in the game like Manuel Neuer.
- Finger Support – Gloves advertised with finger support or “fingersave” technology typically come with removable plastic spines for each finger. These spines are typically inserted into a sleeve inside of each finger. While finger support gloves will likely lessen the severity of a hand injury, it should be noted that they are in no way a guarantee against broken fingers, etc.
The combination of adidas’ latest glove technology with the more traditional wrist strap and extra support make this glove our pick for the best goalie glove with finger protection.
- Modern Tech, Traditional Fit
- Separated Palm and Finger Joints
- Adjustable Support and Protection
- Wrist strap
- High Price Point
- Less Palm Surface Area
If you’re just giving the goalkeeper position a shot, or maybe you’re in a less-competitive adult rec league trying to have some fun and help out how you can, these adidas League Predator gloves are the best goalie gloves for the casual keeper.
A negative cut design, one-piece URG 3.0 foam palm, and heavy-duty wrist strap make these gloves great for pick-up play or an emergency backup pair of gloves for a team bag.
- Affordable Price Point
- Negative Cut Design
- Lightweight and Flexible
- Unprotected backhand
- Less Durable
- One-piece palm
Puma made a name for themselves in the soccer world with the Puma King cleats which represented a top tier of traditional high-grain genuine leather soccer cleats.
The Puma Future Grip gloves are nothing like that. In fact, they do a few things that no other gloves on this list do that make them stand out including the palm wraps around both the outer edge of the hand and thumb for an all-over snug fit as well as the neoprene wrist cuff which is zipped closed!
- Wrap Around Palm
- Zippered Wrist Cuff
- Flexible and Lightweight
- Snug Second Skin Fit
- Less protection
- Non-adjustable wrist support
- High Price Point
- You may need help closing the zippers once you have the gloves on
The power of Reusch is that as a company they focus only on gloves. While Puma and adidas are innovative and offer some of the best products on the market, soccer goalie gloves are never going to be their main focus as companies.
Reusch on the other hand has operated as a sports glove manufacturer for over 80 years! This pair, the Attrakt R3 FS Goalkeeper gloves, features Reusch’s lightest non-removable finger supports for the best of both worlds when it comes to movement and protection.
We especially love their DuraGuard palm patch which will help these gloves remain viable through more practice and games.
- Finger Protection
- Great Value Price Point
- Palm Patch for Extra Durability
- Large Surface Area
- Flat Cut, Looser Fit
- Unfinished Look
- Less Feel
Unless you’ve played in another country, or have spent a serious amount of time around goalkeepers, it’s likely you haven’t heard of Uhlsport.
Uhlsport, like Reusch, is a company that has provided equipment for goalkeepers for over 50 years! Their website even has an interactive timeline that’s worth checking out if you’re into sports history. We love the uhlsport Comfort Absolutgrip gloves because they’re a simple black and white colorway, negative cut, and wrist-support structure. A great pair of gloves for keepers that prefer to let their performance do the talking.
- Negative Cut, Snug Fit
- Flexible Backhand
- ABSOLUTGRIP Foam Palm
- Elastic Wrap Around Wrist Strap
- Economic Price
- One Colorway
- Less Surface Area
- Less Protection
While the Reusch Attrakt gloves represent classic design and style, the Reusch Pure Contact gloves are all about the new age.
These gloves are technically a hybrid cut that mixes qualities of negative cut gloves with roll finger gloves for a maximized surface area compared to other negative cut gloves.
Reusch didn’t stop there though, always innovating, they lengthened the palm of these gloves down the end of the wrist cuff for increased control. We definitely noticed the additional grip on our forearms while catching and trapping shots against our chest, and think other manufacturers might even start to copy this trend.
- Ultimate Mobility and Flexibility
- Pure Second Skin Feel
- Hybrid Cut Palm
- Wrist Strap
- Least Amount of Protection
- Less Durable
- One Piece Palm
Making Incredible Saves
Having the appropriate equipment for your age and level is a huge part of loving the sport of soccer and growing as an athlete within the game. It’s why we took the time to review each of these offerings, and ultimately chose the adidas Predator Pro as our editor’s choice.
That being said, keepers never seem to cite their gloves as the reason they make incredible saves. Sure, they help, but at the end of the day, remember, even the best gloves you’ll ever own have a limited lifespan, and can only ever enhance the talent and skill you already have, not replace it.
An easy rule to follow is the less that you have to think about your gloves, the better. Find a pair that suits your skills and budget and focus on enjoying being the last line of defense for your team!