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This article takes a look at the different types of gloves worn by soccer players and discusses the primary reasons for wearing them.
Reasons for footballers wearing gloves
To keep warm
The main reason for outfield footballers wearing gloves is to keep warm from the colder winter months, and the chill winds. Most soccer games are played outdoors on large open fields, meaning there is little protection from the elements. Soccer players’ hands are continuously exposed and as extremities of the body, they are usually the first parts to get cold.
The human body is designed to regulate its temperature. During cold weather, the body increases blood flow to your vital organs and core to keep them warm.
The change in blood flow can restrict the amount of blood in your hands and feet, causing them to feel cold.
This is why professional soccer players, even when in full flight, may experience cold hands despite having a high overall temperature.
This also explains why you often see players wearing gloves with a short-sleeved jersey, something that would seem contradictory to most fans.
Some people are naturally more prone to having cold hands and feet. While this can be a sign of underlying illness, it is typically not the case, particularly in young and fit soccer players.
However, it may make players more inclined to wear gloves and other forms of protection during cold weather.
If players go into a training session or match without warming up, they are much likelier to develop a muscular injury. Cold-related muscle injuries can be anything from a minor strain to a full ligament tear.
According to a 2019 Forbes report, knee and hamstring injuries accounted for approximately half of the injuries in the Premier League, costing teams a staggering $111.5 million in rehabilitation.
Using every available resource, including gloves and other warm clothing can help players to avoid getting cold, reducing their chances of injury.
Although warmth and injury prevention are the primary motivations behind soccer players wearing gloves, there are some other reasons worth considering.
As the most-watched sport on the planet with over 3.5 billion fans worldwide, soccer players are the perfect advertising vehicles for sports brands.
Soccer continues to grow globally, with MLS audiences on ABC and ESPN networks increasing by 50% from the previous year in 2021. Sponsored athletes may have special endorsement deals that enable them to make more money by wearing Nike or Adidas gloves during a game. Sponsors will jump at any opportunity to promote their brands.
Many soccer players are known for their vanity. Gloves are some of the few items of clothing players can accessorize, making them a popular fashion choice. Arsenal legend, Thierry Henry was known for breaking out his black Nike gloves and long-sleeved jersey throughout the winter months.
This look quickly became iconic, with some fans believing his cold-weather ritual brought out the best in their record goalscorer.
Goalkeepers Gloves – Footballers wearing gloves
Let’s delve deeper into the history of football player gloves and look at the progression in their development over the years.
Key Features Of Goalkeeper Gloves
1. The Palm
The palm of the glove is the main component that affects a goalie’s grip. Glove palms are manufactured using synthetic materials and usually contain a layer of latex, enabling keepers to hold on to powerful shots and pull crosses out of the air. Most professionals wear gloves with smooth palms.
As they are made using the highest quality materials, they offer the best grip. For cheaper gloves, the palms often contain textured patterns as they improve your handle and disperse water from the surface of the glove.
2. The Cut
The cut of the glove is essentially the shape and fit. It’s important to choose the right cut to fit your hand, wrist, and fingers. If you have large hands and long fingers, you’ll likely need a different cut from someone with smaller hands and shorter fingers. Some ‘keepers prefer more support on the wrist while others opt for a looser fit and finger supports.
- A negative cut provides a tight fit for slender hands, giving goalies an improved feel and ball control.
- Roll finger cuts attach the palm of the glove directly to its backhand, maximizing the latex contact area, and enhancing grip. This cut doesn’t conform to the shape of the hand like others, making it more suitable for goalkeepers who enjoy a thicker glove with a looser fit.
- Flat-cut gloves are designed for wide hands and feature gussets (strengthening materials sewn into the glove) on the exterior for extra support.
- Hybrid cuts combine features from other cuts to create a fully customized glove.
3. Finger Protection
Most modern gloves contain finger protectors. These are plastic inserts, placed into the backhand to protect the fingers from powerful shots and to prevent them from bending unnaturally.
Goalkeeper gloves history
When did goalkeepers start wearing gloves?
Goalkeeper gloves were first introduced into the game in 1945. The first known patent was established in 1885 by a manufacturer called William Sykes. But it wasn’t until 1945 that Argentine player Amadeo Carrizo became the first goalkeeper to wear gloves in a competitive soccer match.
Before the advent of goalkeeper gloves in the 1960s and 1970s, goalkeepers never used to wear gloves and would just save shots with their bare hands. According to the original FA rules established in 1863, goalkeepers were free to make the choice of whether to wear gloves or not without facing any legal repercussions.
The 1970s proved to be a huge progression point in the manufacturing of specialized gloves, as more sports companies began investing in gloves that provided basic protection as well as sufficient levels of grip.
This development pushed well into the 1980s when latex goalkeeper gloves started to gain further recognition within the market. The aim of the latex gloves was to provide more durable and adhesive gloves that could be made in a number of different variations.
And finally, we move on to more recent times where goalkeeper gloves have become one of the standard pieces of equipment used in soccer. Goalkeepers can now choose different types of gloves based on factors like grip, durability, and seam types. More so, high-quality grade latex is now used to provide the best level of grip for goalkeepers to firmly catch the ball.
Who invented goalkeeper gloves?
The first known patent for goalkeeper gloves was from a British ball manufacturer known as William Sykes.
The patent itself was accepted for a pair of leather goalkeeper gloves in the year 1885.
These leather gloves were produced with a layer of Indian rubber on the external part of the gloves to provide basic protection and padding for the goalkeeper.
Considering that the latex used in modern goalkeeper gloves today is produced from synthetic rubber, William Sykes really paved the way for the introduction of latex goalkeeper gloves that the majority of goalkeepers use in today’s game of soccer.
Which goalkeeper was the first to wear gloves in a professional match?
According to historical records, Argentina’s Amadeo Raul Carrizo is widely acclaimed to be the first goalkeeper to ever wear gloves.
This began with his career at River Plate in 1945 where he would regularly put on a pair of goalkeeper gloves before heading out for matches.
However, there has been some controversy over the years regarding whether Amadeo Carrizo really was the first goalkeeper to wear gloves.
Because another contender in this debate was the former Scotland goalkeeper Archie Pinnell, who was spotted in the mid-1890s wearing a basic pair of gloves.
Given the massive time gap between the two findings, it is still unclear as to who officially claims the title, especially given the difference in quality between the gloves that they were wearing at the time.
And yet another competitor is the former Wales international Leigh Richmond Roose – who was spotted wearing white gloves forty years before the emergence of Amadeo Carrizo in South America.
Roose was known for wearing his white gloves in bad weather conditions and openly admitted that in normal conditions he preferred to play bare-handed.
The true owner of this title can be attributed to various factors such as the standard of goalkeeping gloves as well as the reason for wearing them.
Ultimately, until today it’s still quite debatable as to who was the first goalkeeper to wear gloves.
What companies were the early manufacturers of goalkeeper gloves?
As mentioned before, the early 1970s proved to be a pivotal moment in the development of specialized goalkeeper gloves. This was when sports firms targeted this newfound opportunity in the market.
These manufacturers included:
To summarize it all… The main reason for outfield footballers wearing gloves is to keep warm and injury prevention. Goalkeeper gloves were first used in the year 1945 by the former Argentinian goalkeeper – Amadeo Carrizo.
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