If you’re buying your first pair of goalie gloves or shopping for a future Tim Howard, you’ve likely stumbled upon gloves with a feature called ‘finger protection’ or ‘finger save’. In this explainer, we’ll break down what finger save really is and why you should consider it for your next pair of goalkeeping gloves.
What are Fingersave Goalie Gloves?
Finger sprains and fractures are unfortunately a common occurrence for goalkeepers at all levels. More often than not, goalkeepers are able to train and play through these minor injuries and they are, as a matter of fact, an unavoidable part of a goalkeeper’s career. Fingersave goalie gloves, also referred to as finger protection goalie gloves, are a special type of glove created to provide support to the fingers in an attempt to mitigate these types of injury. Let’s take a closer look at the fingersave design and whether you should consider buying a pair.
Fingersave goalie gloves offer added protection by featuring ‘spines’ that individually insert in between the backhand and front latex often through a zip or velcro opening. These spines run down the back of each finger and in some models, the thumb also. The spine material is often made from plastic and in many models they are removable.
The spines work by providing support to the fingers that help to diffuse the impact of a ball hit with force. The rigidity helps to keep the hands in a ‘catch-ready’ position while preventing hyperextension or any awkward backward-bending of the fingers.
Who Should Wear Fingersave Goalie Gloves?
For young goalkeepers, with smaller and more fragile bones, the risk of a more serious injury to the fingers is heightened. Young goalies are also still developing their catching and saving skills and so are more likely prone to injuries resulting from improper technique.
This makes the fingersave glove a good option for youth goalkeepers.
Once young goalkeepers have developed better technique, they can start to wear goalkeeper gloves without added protection. This will allow them to get a better feel for the ball and build up natural strength in the fingers.
The question as to whether adults should wear gloves with finger protection is slightly less straightforward and ultimately comes down to comfort and personal preference.
Some goalkeepers find that the added spine protection affects their control in catching the ball.
This is because the added finger spines essentially compromise the flexibility of the glove. Others like the stability that the spines provide and feel more comfortable with the fact that the hand is already in a slightly better position for catching.
Whether you are new to goalkeeping, regardless of your age, it may be best to start with wearing fingersave goalie gloves. This is because, no matter what the sport, learning a new technique always comes at an increased risk of injury.
Many goalkeeping brands such as Reusch, Uhlsport, Nike, Adidas, and Renegade offer gloves with ‘removable’ finger protection – giving you the best of both worlds – use the protection in training and remove it for games.
Do Professionals Wear Fingersave Gloves
The simple answer is no.
Professional goalkeepers do not wear fingersaves due to the decreased flexibility of the glove.
Professionals are highly trained and confident in their abilities. They have also built up natural strength and resistance in their fingers by repeated blows to the hand. Although the professionals may experience finger injuries less frequently than others, it does not mean that they are spared from them completely. More often than not, the professionals have learned to cope with these niggly occurrences. Some professionals opt to tape their fingers before training and matches to provide some additional support without losing flexibility.
For aspiring professionals, it would be best to move away from fingersaves as soon as you feel confident enough. However, this isn’t to say fingersaves will necessarily prohibit you from reaching your potential. For goalkeepers that perform well with finger protection, there may be no need to change. It ultimately comes down to comfort and personal preference.
Pros of fingersave goalie gloves:
- Can prevent finger injuries
- Keeps the hands in a catch-ready position
- Can increase confidence in new goalkeepers
Cons of fingersave goalie gloves
- Provides less flexibility and ball control
- Goalkeepers can become reliant on protection
- Can prohibit the development of building natural hand and finger strength
- Not worn by the professionals