uhlsport USA
"Outstanding keeper instruction. This is a must for goalkeepers and coaches."
—Ottawa Internationals S.C. web site, Ottawa, Canada

Goalkeeping Tips, Tidbits and Random Thoughts

An athlete talking to themsleves during competition is hardly a new phenomenon.... The talk does not have to be vocal. By merely thinking you are talking to yourself and sending a message.
   -- Tony DiCicco, Goalkeeper Soccer Training Manual

If you have a question, comment or rebuttal you'd like to see addressed here, send me email. I will post your mail to the blog at my discretion unless you specify otherwise.

What's important in a glove?

A post over on BigSoccer asks,
how important is grip in terms of goalie gloves? If grip is not important, what is? Finally, from your experience with various gloves used in the past, what is the one issue you most commonly are faced with?
My reply:

"As a keeper coach, in conversation with literally hundreds of keepers, I find the two most important things most want in goalkeeper gloves are: 1. Grip, 2. Comfort; not necessarily in that order. Many keepers prioritize grip over comfort, others will sacrifice a little grip for a more comfortable fit.

"The biggest issue most keepers have with their gloves? Durability. This can be either the palm wearing out or losing grip quickly, or other parts of the glove falling apart around a still-usable palm."

I made this point back in 2005, but it bears repeating: a goalkeeper's glove is a very personal choice, just like their boots. The "best" glove for one keeper may not be a good choice for another. Take the time to try different brands and models (yes, I know too many of us can be "glove whores") and find what works for you.


Orange highlighter

In this week's Champion's League final between Manchester United and Chelsea, Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech wore a flourescent orange uniform:

Petr Cech

One poster over at The Glove Bag wrote: "My brother sent me a text during the game saying 'Cech looks like a highlighter pen'". That was after some discussion about whether bright goalkeeper kits would influence strikers to hit the ball right at the keeper.

I've heard that theory bandied about for many years, but I've never seen any scientific study on it. I'm not convinced it makes much of a difference.

In fact, when I am playing striker, I want to see the keeper. My target is a specific area of the goal, where the keeper isn't... and to know where the keeper isn't, it stands to reason that I also need to know where the keeper is. My visual target is a "frame" formed by the ground, the crossbar, a post, and the keeper. I almost never look at the keeper directly, but I do see the keeper's body as a part of the target frame. A brightly outfitted keeper just makes that frame easier to distinguish against a mottled background.

Other strikers may, literally, see things differently, but particularly at the higher levels I don't think a bright goalkeeper kit has any big advantage. The keeper should wear whatever they feel is most comfortable and makes them the most confident.

Labels: ,

Glove storage and care

Some good advice on storing gloves over at TheGloveBag.com.


Glove Cuts

The best guide to goalkeeping glove cuts, over at The Glove Bag.


Glove washing day

Glove washing day. While it should be after almost every use, how many of us actually do it that often? Not I, especially in a week where I am training/coaching several times a day. So after a week or so I have a whole stack of gloves to deal with. How best to do it?

Clear out a large sink. Get your favorite glove wash. Wash and rinse in cool-to-lukewarm water and gently squeeze gloves until they run mostly clear (no dirt, no bubbles). Some like to use their thumb to "push" the dirt out of the palm; I just gently squeeze the gloves like a sponge, working from the wrist to the fingertips.

Okay, now we have a half-dozen pairs of wet gloves that need to dry out of the sunlight. Our parents/boy or girlfriends/spouses won't be to happy to find them hanging all over the house. What now?

First, get rid of even more water with the "towel stomp" method. Place a towel on the floor. Place gloves on the towel, then fold the towel over them or place another towel on top. Then gently step on the whole thing, and the towel will absorb water from the gloves. Repeat with a dry towel if you like.

But they're still too wet to put into your glove bag. Rig a rope or cord in the bathtub or shower, from the faucet to any handy hitching point. Use your gloves' wrist strap to attach them to the rope. Then pull the shower curtain or door closed so the rest of the household doesn't have to look at them.


The making of a goalkepeing glove

Some insights into the design, manufacture and marketing of goalkeeping gloves in an interview with Adam Sells of Sells Goalkeeper Products.

Full disclosure: I endorse Sells gear. I wouldn't do it if I wasn't extremely happy with their products and services. If you're interested in trying them out and can't find them at retailer near you, try KeeperStop.com.


Look, no gloves

The Knowledge over at the Guardian Unlimited Football puts forth the question: "Who was the last [English] league goalkeeper to play without gloves?" One wag responds: "Simon Farnworth of Bolton didn't wear gloves in the Freight Rover final at Wembley against Bristol City in 1986."

Any JB Goalkeeping readers remember otherwise? If you know, let them know.


adidas TUNIT

The latest innovation in goalkeeper gloves is the new adidas TUNIT. It is "modular", with varying backhands (cool mesh, warm fleece, etc.) that can be mixed and matched with different palms (wet, dry, hard ground). The two pieces apparently zip together:

Having a replaceable palm on a glove isn't a new idea, it has been tried in the past. I seem to even recall one glove where the gloves were cut for either hand, and the forehand and backhand were the same, so when one side wore out you just turned the gloves over and wore them on the opposite hand! It remains to be seen how well the TUNIT actually performs, or if it will be cheaper or more convenient than just carrying a few pairs of gloves in your bag. The configuration also means it is a flat-cut glove, so if you prefer roll-finger or negative cut it might not be for you.

There is also a TUNIT shoe, with interchangeable insoles (already done by Puma, I believe) and stud configuration (already tried by Diadora).


Always know where your towel is

I got an email yesterday and realized I am missing a bit of important gear on the equipment page. I live in the desert and have the good fortune to play on decent grass pitches most of the time, so I tend to forget that in many parts of the world a simple towel is a vital part of a goalkeeper's equipment:

"I find myself playing on muddy/crappy fields. Is there anyway I can clean my gloves during the game or at least attempt to get some of the caked in dirt to help with more traction for the gloves."

Keep a towel with you in the goal. If it's muddy use it to wipe the mud off your gloves and then use your water bottle to rinse them. If it's dry and dusty, dampen the towel and use it to wipe the dust off and then again rinse the gloves with your water. Many goalkeepers hang their towel off the side netting. In really bad conditions where you are making lots of saves, you might need several towels and change them as they become too dirty to use.

Oh, and practice good technique and getting up without using your hands! The best way to keep gloves clean is not to get them dirty in the first place.


If the glove fits...

A brief description of the main glove cuts and their fit:

Flat cut. This is the most common. The latex palm is, well, flat. The gussets (sides of the fingers) are made of a different material. Flat cut gloves tend to feel a bit larger than others, although the size of the glove matters too.

Roll finger. The latex of the fingers curves around each finger to meet the backhand of the glove, there are no gussets. The roll of the latex allows for more ball contact, but roll finger gloves can feel bulky if you're not used to them. Also called a Gunn cut.

Negative cut. The seams of the fingers are sewn on the inside (negative) rather than the outside, making for a snug-fitting glove. Keepers with slender hands and those who like a tight fit often prefer a negative cut. They can be too restricting if you prefer a looser fit.

Manufacturers sometimes make hybrid cuts, for example flat cut with a rolled index or pinky finger. Experiment with different cuts and find out what you prefer.


Glove choice

What's the most important criteria for choosing goalkeeping gloves? In the end it's personal preference, but the top two factors are the fit of the glove and the grip. Personally, I put grip at the top. I can get used to many different types of gloves, but as long as the grip is tacky I'm happy. Lots of keepers, though, seem to put fit and comfort ahead of grip—as long as the grip is reasonable, of course.


Protective gear

I've put up a few more items on the recommended gear page (just in time for your holiday shopping!). You'll notice that a couple of them are "protective" items; long keeper pants and "Skidz" compression shorts. Both items have some padding.

I don't care for knee or elbow pads, but the padding in items like long pants or the slider shorts isn't what I'm talking about. Of course a goalkeeper will need some protection from scrapes and bruises if they're on a very hard, rocky field or indoors on Astroturf. I won't play at OD's Sports, one of our local indoor soccer arenas, without full pants and sleeves—the slightest brush of that turf and you're bloodied. And outdoors I always wear slider shorts (although not padded).

What I don't like are the large, thick volleyball-style knee and elbow pads that make it possible for a keeper with poor technique to constantly land on their knees and elbows and get away with it.

A little protection is invaluable under the right circumstances, but like goalkeeping gloves, a keeper's equipment shouldn't substitute for good technique.


"If you can't catch, it doesn't matter"

Words of wisdom from paulee, who had to play a game after losing his glove bag and borrow a pair of cheap gloves:

"Was reflecting on my experience of last night. Despite the fact I wore a crappy pair of Nike Krakens, I held everything that came my way. During the warm up, my buddy kept blasting shots right at me, talking smack. He just kept on me, trying to get me focused on the match, and not worrying about my gloves. Yeah, I would have prefered my Sells, and I'm not about to go play with a $20 pair of whatevers, but gloves are just an aid for us. A tremendous one, no doubt, but it's our hands that are important. For those of you who coach keepers, don't ever let them forget that, because too often, we get caught up in the mistake of putting equipment before good technique. I don't care what you wear on your hands, if you can't catch, it doesn't matter."

Labels: ,

What to use to wash gloves

Many different washing agents, from specialty glove cleaners to Woolite to hand soap all work for different types and brands of gloves. I have found dish soap to work well, and baby shampoo works well for some gloves. If something seems to be damaging your gloves, stop using it and try something else. Or just use plain water, in a pinch. But keep your gloves clean.


Magic gloves

There's a thread over on BigSoccer where someone asks, How do you make playing keeper cool????. Actually, with the younger set, it's not that hard... they all love to dive and roll and tumble. But I liked Roush's answer best:

"Magic Gloves..."

Labels: ,

Fresh, clean scent

On the equipment page I talk about the importance of keeping your gloves clean: they will smell less and perform better.

Reusch is now selling a special glove wash for goalkeeping gloves. I'm sure it does an excellent job, but a bit of mild soap probably does the job just as well for a lot less money.

If you're really concerned about babying your gloves, check the soap label. At least in the United States, it will clearly state whether the soap has any phosphates or bleach in it. These days, most do not.


Last gasp for gloves

Here's a last-ditch way to make those old gloves last a little longer. If you are easy on your gloves (good technique, keep them clean) and have them around long enough, they will eventually start to lose their grip anyway as the softeners in the foam dissipate. Even after cleaning, they'll be slick and won't grip. If you want to get a little more use out of them, take a scouring pad (or even sandpaper or steel wool) and rub away the top layer of the foam. Decent gloves have foam several millimeters thick, so you can remove a fair amount without really damaging the glove. As the top layer comes off, you will expose the lighter, fresh foam underneath and regain a lot of the grip the gloves once had.

Obviously, the gloves will look a little worse for wear after this treatment, and you can only do it a few times. But it's worth it to get a few more weeks or months out of those expensive bits of latex.


Snow, snow, snow

Snow, snow, snow. So much that we can't even play indoors -- nobody can get to the arena! We have gotten a little over two and a half feet since Monday night, and the eastern half of Colorado is essentially shut down. I'm pretty hardcore about practices, and we play in the rain, in snow, in the cold. But today it's hard to walk to the street from your front door, much less run and kick a ball.

To keep this on topic, it is actually easier to train keepers than field players when there's snow on the ground. That's because the ball doesn't need to be on the ground; you can do lots of catching exercises. In fact, if there's snow around we will have some fun by trying to catch snowballs instead of soccer balls! It's a great way to work on cushioning (similar to using water balloons) -- can you catch a snowball without having it explode in a puff of powder? It also works on good hand position and getting two hands to the ball, so you can catch as much of the snowball as possible (rather than just catching half of it and having the other half hit you in the face).

Oh, and a tip for keeping your goalkeeper's hands warm on cold days: buy a pair of polypropylene glove liners, and wear them under your goalkeeping gloves. They are thin enough they won't make your grip too bulky, and the wicking material will keep your hands much warmer and drier.

Labels: ,


A poster in this thread over on the FineSoccer forum had a good analogy to explain why latex foam goalkeeper gloves work better when damp:

posted by Kyle on 13-3-2003 at 02:16 PM:
the purpose of spit, as I've mentioned before is that the glove uses foam for grip. The foam has tiny holes, exactly like a kitchen sponge. The holes are small and brittle when dry, but when you get them wet, they expand and get bigger and softer (just like a kitchen sponge again). The tiny wholes[sic] then act as tenticles like an octopus has. Spit will do the job, but water is easier.

I agree that water is easier (and more sanitary) than spit. You should always keep a water bottle with you in the net.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

© 2003-2008 Jeff Benjamin, all rights reserved