We’ve all heard the expression: “look like a pro, play like a pro”. Goalkeepers should be no different. No longer do keepers need to wear wild subliminal print jerseys or big bulky pants or god forbid… knee pads. Here are some essential tips to getting the right gear, so that you can train injury free and get the most out of your training.
Gloves: If you show up to train without gloves, you might as well not even have shown up. Keepers at ANY AGE should have a minimum two pairs of gloves. One pair for practice. These do not need to be expensive. They just need to fit right and be kept clean (yes you MUST wash your gloves, there is no reason to have smelly hands). The second pair should be reserved for games. These should be a better pair with superior grip. These should be kept in a glove bag and unveiled only for games or tryouts. There should be an almost religious ritual of putting on your game gloves; you should feel like a soldier, armed with a sword you received by a king to go into battle with.
Shirt: If you are comfortable wearing a goalkeeper jersey to practice, that is fine, but elite goalkeepers usually wear a dry fit training T-Shirt with an under armor type base layer. Hear me out—most technical fabrics in base layers an performance t-shirts help you regulate your heat. They usually remove moisture from your body and put it on the outside of the shirt where it can evaporate. Cold weather base layer’s also help keep heat close to your body and are essential for cold days. The added benefit of having long sleaves without a ton of loose fabric getting in your way, is that you can dive, without worrying about scrapes or turn burn, while still getting a true feel of the ball when you catch it. This is an essential demand for high level keepers.
Padded Compression Shorts: This is another essential item. You never want to stop training due to scrapes or turf burns. Worse yet, you never want to develop bad habits because you don’t like hitting the ground a certain way. Nip this in the bud by investing in padded compression shorts to wear under your shorts or pants. If you don’t want to look like a basketball player from the 80’s with your compression shorts longer than your soccer shorts, cuff them underneath so they don’t run longer than your shorts. Wear them to every session.
Shorts / 3 Quarter Pants / or Long Pants: OK there is room for choice here, most pro goalkeepers train in three quarter pants. They form fit the legs, there is not a lot of extra material, and they protect your legs from turf burn and other scrapes. Long pants are ideal for cold days or poor services. Shorts are fine, so long as you have padded compression shorts underneath. If you are training on turf and you want to wear shorts I would recommend long base layer tights under your shorts and compression pants. This way sliding on turf won’t be a problem.
Remember, you need to be able to perform all the functions of a goalkeeper without getting injured, so make sure you protect your body while staying comfortable and feeling like a pro!
Michael Sylvia is the current goalkeeper coach for the New York Red Bull’s Regional Development School and former men’s goalkeeper coach for Kean University.