We see goalkeepers spitting on their gloves and pouring water on them constantly. A lot of us probably started doing that with our own gloves without even understanding the benefits that you were supposedly getting. Today though virtually all of the goalkeeper gloves out there are going to “work better” or give you better grip if they’re wet. There’s a delicate balance though that you want to achieve. Soaking wet is no good, and fully dry is definitely not good either. I’m going to explore why you don’t want to play with dry goalkeeper gloves today. Just as a bit of a spoiler though you’re going to not only be losing grip, it could be bad for the glove’s durability.
The grip on goalkeeper gloves has gotten considerably better in the last I want to say 5 years. There was a jump from the 90s to the 2000s in goalkeeper glove design. We went from bulky gloves to ones that allowed you to have more natural hand movements. At that time still in the early 2000s there were still goalkeeper gloves that featured foam palms that didn’t provide a ton of grip. From the mid 2000s onward everyone was going with latex for the grip. This is when manufacturers started to recommend that you keep the gloves wet. Now, there’s an argument to be made that collectively goalkeeper gloves offer the best grip levels we’ve ever seen. At the same time though, they tend to be way more delicate and therefore last a lot less than older gloves. How does keeping your gloves wet play into this?
Why You Don’t Want To Play With Dry Goalkeeper Gloves – Durability Of The Glove
I can’t believe that it really took me so long to get a sense of why you want your gloves to be wet to make sure the glove lasts longer. It’s very simple when you think about it. Dry latex is going to have a harder time sliding through the ground without ripping apart. If you have old gloves that you’re never going to use again you can see this first hand if you leave them out in the hot sun for a while. What will happen is that the glove after a considerable amount of time will literally break apart. This happened to some of my gloves because my mom took them from my room saying they made the place stink. They cooked out there for a day, and I was never able to wear them again. They literally came apart like stale bread.
Of course, that’s the worst case scenario. The story may apply better to why you don’t want to leave your gloves out in the sun to dry when you’re washing them. Still, wet gloves are because of this, better lubricated and that’s going to give them a better chance to slide through the ground without ripping. This doesn’t mean that if you make sure that your gloves are wet they are never going to rip on you. It does mean that you’ll probably give yourself more low running shots that you can dive to without having your gloves rip. Ultimately all of the gloves you’ll ever have will wear out. What you can hope for is to extend their lifespan as much as possible.
Do Wet Gloves Really Provide More Grip?
A lot of people say get your gloves wet, and they’ll get you more grip. Why is that though? Well, it kind of falls along the same lines of why you want to keep your gloves lubricated to make sure they last longer. Usually when the latex on a goalkeeper glove gets too dry it hardens. When you have a harder surface you’re going to be losing grip. It’s going to make it more likely to have the ball bounce off your hands. Making sure that the gloves are damp at the very least is going to help you keep that latex soft. Before grip was all about making sure that the glove was sticky we wanted soft latex to provide decent grip for the glove.
In most cases even the gloves that are advertised as being super sticky will lose their stickiness over time. If the palm area of the glove gets hard even the gloves with the best grip in the whole world are going to fail you because the latex palm is not soft. The reason why damp gloves are able to provide more grip is because they usually create a softer surface. You want to make sure that the ball is hitting a softer surface. That’s going to help you grip the ball better every single time. Remember that this wet glove thing applies to pretty much 90% of goalkeeper gloves out there that are made from latex or similar materials. At least in the palm area. Cheaper gloves may be made from other elements and having them wet may then not be ideal.
How Wet Is Too Wet or Too Dry?
This is something that I think no one talks about. You need to keep your gloves wet, but if they get too wet then what happens is that the ball is going to slip away instead of staying put. There are two situations when you can potentially find yourself with gloves that are too wet. One is of your own doing, when you pour too much water on them. That’s why if you’re going to pour water on your gloves to keep them wet, do so with about 5 to 10 minutes to go before the match. What you can do is keep catching balls until they feel about right. That’s a way to dry them quickly. In the second scenario you’re dealing with rain or a field that’s just too wet.
When it’s a rain issue you may want to squeeze as much water as you can out of the gloves as constantly as you can. Obviously when you’re in the middle of the game you’re not going to be able to take the gloves off. Make sure that you’re constantly squeezing water out of the gloves. In these cases you should still be extra careful with ball security. Don’t trust the gloves to work for you. If you feel the glove hard at all it’s either too dry or too old. Neither is a good scenario. When it’s a really hot day you may need to pour more water on the gloves at half time or in the middle of the game. Just make sure they stay damp, not slippery wet!
Spitting On Gloves Yes or No
Can you keep your gloves wet by spitting on them? So I’ve seen a lot of Instagram goalkeepers saying that this is a bad thing to do and what not. I’m going to keep it real here, I do it and I do it often. That doesn’t mean that I think it’s a good habit. I got into the habit of doing it though because it gets really hot in virtually all of the countries that I’ve been fortunate to play in. What would happen is that the gloves would get dry mid game. The easiest way to try and get them back to where I wanted to be was to spit.
What’s the problem then with spitting on your gloves? Well, for one it’s not the most hygienic practice that I could think of. At certain points in the game you may feel the urge to touch your face to deal with an itch or what not. Now you’re not only going to be touching your face with gloves that are filled with dirt. You’re going to be touching your face with gloves filled with dirt and spit. Don’t even get me started about shaking people’s hands and things like that. I cringe when I see goalkeepers as captains shake the refs’ hands with their gloves on. That’s a tacky move bro! As far as I’m concerned, I think it hurts the performance that you get from the glove. For me not really if you spit enough you can actually get the glove damp.
Why You Don’t Want To Play With Dry Goalkeeper Gloves – You Shouldn’t Necessarily Treat All Gloves The Same
I’m guilty of this, and I get the sense that a lot of us are in the same boat. You can’t just apply the same amount of water to all of the gloves that you buy and expect the same results. Certain gloves are going to take in more water. What I like to do with thicker gloves is kind of just run through the water faucet quickly. Like if you wanted to do a very quick hand wash. What happens with a lot of the thicker gloves is that they can get heavier if they take in a lot of water. So you want to get them damp, but not soaking wet. If you put too much water on these gloves it’s going to be harder to get them to the point where you want them to be.
With thinner gloves you can apply a bit more water with the confidence that they won’t get as heavy. Usually even if you pour too much water you’re able to get them to a decent point just by catching a couple of balls or rubbing your hands together. It’s not such a big deal to get too much water on your gloves. Ultimately it’s kind of a trial and error process until you find what you’re comfortable with. When it comes down to it though you do want to make sure that you’re keeping your gloves at the very least damp. This will ensure that you get the most out of them. Also, it can help you extend their lifespan.