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Explained: Goalkeeper Glove Cuts

Roll, Negative, Flat, Hybrid… overwhelmed with all of the options for different goalie glove cuts? Our soccer guide, Erin Nayler, a professional goalkeeper who’s played in two World Cups and the Olympics for New Zealand, breaks down the most common options for all types of goalkeepers.

The Glove Cut

One of the most important aspects of a goalkeeper’s glove

It wasn’t until the late 1960’s that goalkeeper gloves started to make an appearance in the goalkeeping world. At the Mexico World Cup in 1970 England’s Gordon Banks wore them as an experiment and arguably made one of the best saves of all time when he kept out a tremendous Pele header. Before then, goalkeepers at all levels would play with their bare hands! 

Goalkeeper gloves eventually became mandatory toward the end of the 1980’s and since then have undergone extensive innovative development that has led to the modern goalkeeper having a wide range of choice when it comes down to glove brands, colors, styles, and features.

Features of a goalkeeper glove include the backhand which is effectively used for punching the ball, the strap which secures the glove onto the hand, the latex palm or ‘grip’ that enables the goalkeeper to securely catch the ball, and last but not least the cut, which affects the fit of the glove, especially around the fingers.

The cut of the glove is one of the most important aspects to consider when selecting a goalkeeper glove. It is important that a goalkeeper feels comfortable and confident in their chosen cut in order to perform at their best. Most top-level goalkeepers have a preferred cut of glove and once they find their favorite they usually stick with it. To help you with the decision of choosing the right cut we will continue with an overview of the different cuts that are available on the market today. This includes the flat palm, roll finger, negative and hybrid styles. 

Flat Palm

Also known as a regular cut, positive cut, or box cut

Goalkeeper glove cuts - flat cut
Flat cut goalie glove

The flat palm cut is the most traditional style of glove and features a single, flat piece of latex attached to the backhand. The stitched finger gussets are located on the outside of the palm which gives this cut a looser feel than other styles and allows for more space around the fingers. This glove would therefore be best suited to those with wider hands. Flat palms have remained popular over the years but many goalkeepers are now opting for more modern styles that provide a tighter fit. Despite this, flat palm gloves are still the cut of choice for one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time – Gigi Buffon. The flat palm is also a great entry-level or junior glove.

Flat Palm Glove Cut Features
  • Latex sits flat on the palm
  • Looser fit than other cuts
  • Good entry-level or junior glove

Roll Finger

Seamless snug wrap around fingers

Goalkeeper glove cuts - roll finger
Roll finger cut goalie glove

The roll finger is another traditional cut and has arguably been the most popular choice over the past decade for goalkeepers of all abilities. The latex surface area is greater than all other styles of glove. 

The latex is attached to the backhand of the glove without any gussets allowing for a seamless fit. Roll fingers can sometimes feel too thick due to the maximised latex area and some goalkeepers may find them too bulky. This may make them a  better choice for those with smaller or slimmer hands.

Although worn at top-level for many years, it seems that professional and especially premier league goalkeepers are starting to move more toward hybrid cuts. However, this is still a popular choice of cut and is currently worn by Watford keeper, Ben Foster.

Roll Finger Glove Cut Features
  • Maximized latex surface area
  • Snug, wrap-around fingers
  • Can be slightly bulky, best for slimmer hands
  • Very popular choice

Negative

Seamless snug wrap good for slender hands

Goalkeeper glove cuts - negative cut
Negative cut goalie glove

Negative cut gloves are great for those who like a secure, snug fit and are a good choice for goalkeepers with narrow hands. The seams of this glove are stitched on the inside which provides a close fit around the fingers providing a feeling of control. This cut is generally very comfortable and relatively light but has a slightly smaller latex surface area than other cuts. The negative glove is the cut of choice for the United States Women’s National Team and Orlando Pride star, Ashlyn Harris.

Negative Cut Glove Features
  • Snug fit
  • Light
  • Comfortable and secure
  • Good for slender hands

Hybrid

Combination of cuts

Goalkeeper glove cuts - hybrid cut
Hybrid cut goalie glove

The hybrid cut is becoming a favorite in the elite goalkeeping world with many top-flight keepers opting for this style. This cut combines the best features from other cuts. There are many combinations but most hybrid gloves combine roll finger and negative cut aspects. The flat/roll combination is also popular. Usually, the index and pinky fingers are of the roll finger style with wrap-around latex whilst the other fingers are either negative or flat cut. 

This glove is a great choice for all levels of goalkeepers and is becoming a common sight amongst premier league players. This cut manages to successfully include the roll finger style whilst maintaining the glove’s overall lightness. Liverpool’s, Alisson Becker chooses to wear hybrids. 

Hybrid Cut Glove Features
  • Combination of different cuts
  • Increasing in popularity
  • Popular amongst top-flight footballers

Glove Cut Takeaways

Every goalkeeper has their own glove preference and some may alternate between cuts. There isn’t one cut that stands out above the rest. If you are new to goalkeeping, it is best to trial different cuts until you find one that you feel the most comfortable and confident in.  As a general rule:

Youth and Junior Goalkeepers

The flat palm is a great traditional starter glove that provides a looser fit. For goalkeepers under the age of 10, consider using finger saves as these could prevent injury whilst developing proper technique.

Aspiring Professional 

It really depends on the goalkeeper’s preference. The roll finger will provide maximized contact with the ball and therefore is a good choice for security and for those with smaller hands but after wearing other cuts, these may feel relatively bulky. Hybrids combine the best features of different cuts and provide aspects of the roll finger whilst maintaining overall glove lightness. Negatives are snug and close-fitting. They provide good control with a closer to bare-hand feel and greater flexibility.

My Choice of Glove Cut

As a younger goalkeeper I would always wear roll finger gloves as I liked the comfort and security that they provided. Now, as a professional goalkeeper, my cut of preference has changed to the hybrid glove with roll finger and negative aspects. Overall, the hybrid cut fits better to my hand and feels lighter than a roll finger. For training, I will often switch between cuts but as I near game-day I will switch to training in a hybrid so that I can feel confident at keeping that clean-sheet!

Sources & Resources

Helpful goalie glove cut articles and videos


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Erin Nayler

Erin is a professional goalkeeper for the New Zealand National Team and FC Girondins de Bordeaux in France. She's played in two World Cups and the Olympics for New Zealand. She knows her soccer.

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