I often get questions from keepers and their parents on how best to keep gloves lasting as long as possible. Many times, I can smell the rancid odour of one of my players gloves from more than several feet away! YUK!!! Gloves often break down sooner than they should because of poor maintenance. Gloves aren’t a cheap investment so here are a few tips to keep those mitts in top shape.

First, don’t leave gloves in your bag. Typically, gloves get thrown into the gear bag after training never to be seen again until the next session or match. After training or a game, take them out of your bag! Find a couple clothes pins and clip them to a hanger allowing them to get some air and dry out a bit. Especially important after a rainy and wet training session or game. In those cases, squeeze as much water out as you can WITHOUT wringing out, then hang up. Again, using clothespins and allowing air to get into the glove.

Next thing I see that leads to early palm breakdown is keepers who pull their gloves out of their bags, put them on, and immediately spit on the palms to moisten. This is bad for the palm! Wetting them with saliva isn’t necessarily a bad trick in a pinch to tacky up the surface, but not a good idea on a completely dry palm. Here’s why….saliva has enzymes in it designed to break down the food you chew. This us why things you hold in your mouth will eventually dissolve if you hold on to them long enough. So, spitting saliva on dry palms breaks down the latex quicker over time when this is the primary method of wetting the palm. A better method is to dampen with water just to tacky up the grip prior to beginning playing, and if it begins to lose some grip, then spitting on them is an alternative when water is not readily available. At least then the saliva is diluted some with the residual water on the palm.

Proper diving technique (taught at our weekly goalkeeper training) also has an impact on how quickly the latex fingers and palm shred. If you are landing on the proper contact points of the hip, shoulder, and side of the knee without putting your hands on the ground and getting up without using the flat of the hand to push up, the palm should last longer. If your have to get up with a push, use the rocking motion (which is also constantly reinforced at our weekly goalkeeper training) and/or push with your elbow/closed fist. The less contact the flat of the palm has with the ground, especially synthetic surfaces like field turf, the better. Turf fields tend to eat up gloves that come in contact with it.

Lastly, the gloves will have to be cleaned now and again. Rain water is not enough to get rid of dirt. When the palm starts looking dirty, take the glove and run under warm water. Work your fingers into the latex, loosening up the dirt. DO NOT use any dish or other soap because it will ruin the latex. Plain warm water and a little elbow grease will do the trick. Once again, hang to dry.

To help the longevity of your gloves, it’s recommended that you have a pair for training and a match pair. The bulk of your touches come from training so this pair may need to be replaced more frequently.  It’s best to have similar gloves for each. A glove that your not familiar with and haven’t used much may not be the best for a match. It’s like wearing a pair of cleats or shoes for the first time. They often don’t feel like they fit until they’ve been broken in some. The same with gloves. Wear them some to get a feel for them first, or alternate the use of 2 pairs each session to get a good feel for each.

By following these simple glove care tips, you should help your gloves last as long as possible! For your free session and other tips and fantastic weekly training, contact Coach Larry at Just 4 Keepers of Northern VA at larrydolph@just4keepers.com or 703 239-4J4K (4545).