Soccer Goalie Protective Gear – What To Wear

Since I started this site I’ve always wanted to be very honest about the physical toll that goalkeeping takes on the body. Yes, you can develop sound technique to ensure that you don’t get badly hurt when diving to the ground. Also, there’s a resistance to pain that you kind of have to build if you really want to get serious about goalkeeping. Pain is part of the process and is really what I want to get across. Now, the fact that pain is part of the process doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try and minimize that pain. One of the best ways to minimize your pain as a goalkeeper is to wear soccer goalie protective gear. 

These days there are a lot of different products out there that are essentially branded as soccer goalie protective gear. Parents who are essentially new to the game are probably going to want to go out and buy all of the different pads and things that they can find. Especially when they realize that their kid is coming home with bumps and bruises on a regular basis. What I want to do today is craft a guide that takes into account some of the more popular protective gear products for goalkeepers that you can find out there. That way when you’re shopping for this type of gear you’ll have a better sense of what to buy. As a general rule you want to make sure that you’re buying gear that you know how to incorporate into your outfit. That may seem kind of vague now, so let me try and explain it further!

Goalkeeper with full body protections

Soccer Goalie Protective Gear – Why More Protection Isn’t Necessarily Better 

As I just mentioned it’s understandable that parents are going to want to make sure that their kids are wearing as much protection as possible. The reason why I always say that you don’t want to overdo it is because too much protection can limit mobility. That in turn can lead to poor performances. In any case you want to get used to the protection that you’re wearing. So if you’re going to be wearing a helmet, knee, and shoulder pads in games do so in practice as well. That’s just kind of an extra nugget in there. Ultimately what you’re looking for is a balance between feeling safe with the amount of protection that you have on. At the same time you want to make sure that you feel comfortable enough to be able to move like you need to move when you play between the sticks.

Other than the loss of movement you also don’t want to add too much weight to yourself. Again this is something that you can get used to if you train with the pads on. The thing is you don’t want the added effort that you have to put in because you’re heavier to be the reason why you can’t make it to that ball in the low corner in the last minutes of the game. One of the things that I always say about extra padding in today’s game is that the pads have gotten a lot better when it comes to how they stretch out and things like that. So they’re going to limit your movements less and hopefully not be as heavy. Still it makes sense to be very diligent with what you wear.    

Head Protective Gear Yes or No

The whole concussion issue is certainly something that has sparked the concern of parents who have kids playing all sorts of sports. Soccer is not necessarily a sport in which you’d be too concerned about head trauma. By all accounts though it can happen. On a personal level, I’ve gone through quite a few episodes of head trauma playing the game. It kind of comes down to how effective you really feel that some of these soft helmets that you can use for soccer actually are. You can’t use hard helmets because those would put the other players at risk. You have to use either one of those rugby helmets. Those are very similar to what famous goalkeeper Petr Cech wore.

When it comes to helmets I’m neither for nor against. The one thing that I will say is that if you want your kid to be comfortable wearing a helmet because that’s going to grant you as a parent a bit more peace of mind, get them to wear a helmet early in their careers. In fact, with any of the added protective gear that you want to wear you want to get in the habit of wearing it early. It’s going to become part of your outfit, and you’ll be able to minimize some of the comfort and movement issues that could come up. Just because you’re used to playing with the extra gear that you have on. If the helmet can provide an added peace of mind and that’s something that you’re looking for it could be a good add to your goalkeeper outfit.      

Protecting Private Parts – Cups

Wearing a cup is a situation that I’ve explored on this site before. Without necessarily getting into too many details, I’ll say that I perfectly understand why people would consider wearing a cup. Getting hit right in those special places with a hard shot is one of the worst feelings in the world. Also, there are potential health risks involved with something like this. Unfortunately the way that cups work I just don’t think that they’re going to be too beneficial for goalkeepers. Maybe I’m just biased because this was not something that I liked to wear. Goalkeeping does involve a lot of leg movements and so there’s a strong chance that you’ll develop rashes on the inside of your thighs from wearing cups.

The counterargument that someone may have is that hockey goalies wear cups and a lot of the movements that they make are similar to the ones that soccer goalkeepers have to make. There’s some truth to that. However, the kicking motion which is integral to soccer requires you to move that particular area where the cup can hurt you constantly. Although you may stretch your legs out constantly in hockey, kicking motion is not one that you’re doing often. From my experience I would say that cups are more harmful than good as soccer goalie protective gear. The motions that you have to do constantly in soccer are going to be interfered with by the cup. While I’d love to have extra protection in that area it’s hard to get that extra protection without discomfort.       

What To Look For In Elbow Pads & Knee Pads

You’re basically looking for flexibility here. There’s really no other way to say it. Of course what you want is a pad that’s going to protect your elbow or your knee. From there though, you want to make sure that in getting that protection you don’t lose the mobility in that part of your body that you need to be able to do the job well. This sense of loss of mobility is one of the reasons why we don’t see a lot of professionals wearing any type of elbow or knee pads to games. Now, let’s get one other thing straight though. For the most part goalkeepers playing in top leagues are going to be doing so on very good fields. 

I played in two leagues, the Mexican third division, and the El Salvador first division. These are by no stretch of the imagination two world renowned leagues. Even then though most of the fields that we played on were decent enough. Especially when you’re coming up playing in the amateur circuit particularly in Mexico where you’re going to get a mixed bag when it comes to the fields. In any case, if you do decide that you want to wear knee pads and elbow pads, what you want to look for are pads that do protect you, but don’t limit mobility.

What you can also do is wear long sleeve goalkeeper jerseys and long pants with pads in these areas. Yes, you’re probably not going to get as much protection from the pads embedded in clothing as you would from external knee and elbow pads. More often than not though they can serve as an OK compromise.    

Undershirts With Protective Padding

These are a good idea in theory. A lot of times when you’re wearing virtually any jersey you’re not going to get protection in the rib area or that hip area that I always talk about not being protected. The problem that I see, and the reason why I say that they are a good idea in theory is because sometimes these shirts have too much protection to the point where they heavily limit your mobility. I remember wearing one of these shirts for American football. It featured pads in the shoulder area, which was something that I was looking for at the time because I had just broken my collarbone. The problem was that I couldn’t lift my arms. I could deal with that in American football because of the position I played, but not in goalkeeping.

Luckily there are a lot of different padded undershirt designs available these days. So if this is something that you want to get into you could try and find a design with pads in spots that help you. At the same time as with any extra gear you want to make sure that you’re not losing a lot of mobility. To be honest this isn’t something that I’ve gone back to recently. If you feel though that you’re getting beat up too much in goalkeeping then having this padded undershirt should certainly be an idea you want to look into. Again just make sure it features pads where you feel you need them. Also, you want to make sure you can move ok with the shirt on.     

Shorts, Pants or Underwear With Padding 

This is something that I spoke about already. Ultimately any type of clothing with added padding can be a decent compromise over wearing elbow pads, or any other type of padding that you can think about. You’re never going to get the same level of protection that you would get from external pads. At the same time though, the padding on the clothes is usually not going to be as hard to deal with mobility wise. With that in mind I would certainly recommend using padded shorts, pants and whatever it may be.

The way I see it you’re getting extra protection that you won’t get with regular shorts. Granted that extra protection is usually nothing major. At the end of the day it’s kind of better than nothing. I’ve always preferred to wear some type of padding on my clothes. As I’ve said in other articles on the topic you really need to make sure that you’re wearing the right size of padded shorts, pants or whatever it may be. This is going to help ensure that the pads are actually covering up the parts that they need to cover up!  

Soccer Goalie Protective Gear – Conclusion

There’s really no one right answer when it comes to the type of soccer goalie protective gear that you want to wear. If you’re getting bumps and bruises in a specific area the first thing that you may want to tweak is your technique. Of course, there will be a natural tendency to look for extra protection as well. I would necessarily go out and buy all of this extra gear right off the bat. Ultimately it may be a better idea to look for things as you. Again if you’re dealing with specific issues then look for gear to try and cover up some of these issues. It’s an ongoing process your goalkeeper outfit doesn’t necessarily have to be set for life at any point in your career.