What goalkeeper equipment do you really need to buy? What equipment is optional?
Some goalkeeping equipment is essential — but there’s also a whole range of extras you may also be interested in. So I’ve divided the following goalkeeper equipment list into two sections:
- Essential goalkeeper equipment. The bare bones. Stick with these to save yourself money.
- Optional goalkeeper equipment. Invest if you’re looking to improve specific areas of your game.
This post should save you both time and money.
Essential Goalkeeper Equipment
1. Goalkeeper Gloves
Gloves are, by far, the most important item of goalkeeping equipment. Investing in decent goalkeeper gloves is a necessity.
So what should you look for in a pair of GK gloves?
- The right glove cut. Learn about the different stitching styles used to manufacture goalkeeping gloves.
- High quality latex. Find out what type of latex material makes for the best grip on the ball.
- Value for money. You need to be careful not to overspend. My goalkeeper glove buying guide provides money-saving tips.
For goalkeepers starting out, right up to the higher levels, I recommend the Rectrix 1.0 Goalkeeper Gloves. They provide maximum comfort, grip, flexibility — and value for money. They’re perfect for both amateurs and club goalkeepers looking to improve their game.
Rectrix 1.0 Glove Specification
- Negative cut (stitched on the inside)
- Contact latex palms & Dumbo Foam backhand
- Quick-use Latex strap (Velcro)
- Includes additional slits for enhanced hand and finger flexibility
- Complimentary zip case
- Designed alongside academy keepers.
- Superior quality & value to leading sports brands
Check out my detailed goalkeeper glove top 10 list for 2019.
Whatever gloves you decide to buy, bare in mind that there’s no substitute for good technique. Gloves will improve your grip — but won’t ‘supercharge’ your overall skill level!
2. Football Boots
There aren’t too many specialist goalkeeper football boots. The ones advertised online as ‘GK boots’ tend to just be generic football boots marketed to keepers, or worn by pros. So your choice of boots is entirely down to preference.
I personally prefer the quality, feel, and lifespan of Nike and Adidas boots over Puma and other brands I’ve worn. I always aim for boots which feel light when I try them on — because when you traipse through mud on a match day you could do without the additional weight.
The Importance of Studs
When it comes to football boots, it’s vitally important for keepers to wear the correct studs for the conditions they’re playing on.
We’ve all seen it when footballers (including pros) slip multiple times during a game. Just imagine the consequences of the goalkeeper continually losing their footing.
The main types of football boots are as follows:
- Firm ground (FG): by far the most popular type. Designed to give maximum grip and comfort on natural grass pitches in dry to slightly wet conditions (e.g. summer, frozen pitches in the winter).
- Soft ground (SG): designed for wet, rainy match-days. There are two main variations of this type — the traditional 6-stud configuration (e.g. Puma King), or the modern mixed sole (e.g. Nike Mercurial).
- Artificial ground (AG): designed for increasingly popular 3G and 4G artificial pitches. They’re a safer and more comfortable option than FG or Astro Turf.
- Astro Turf: designed for sand or water based surfaces (old style artificial pitches).
- Indoor: for hard-floor dry surfaces (e.g. sports halls). They include soles made up of a non-marking rubber. Typically used in small sided games — such as 5-a-side or futsal.
Depending on what conditions you train/play on, you’ll most likely need 1-2 types of boots. It’s best not to cut corners on your footwear; it’s dangerous to wear boots incompatible with the surface (e.g. using soft ground studs on an artificial pitch).
Check out the video I’ve featured on my Goalkeeper Mud Guide to fully appreciate the importance of using the right studs..
3. Padded Shorts or Trousers
Diving onto hard ground or artificial surfaces can cut, graze — even burn — your exposed skin. Goalkeeper trousers and shorts are designed to protect you from high-impact landings, in the toughest of playing conditions — from grass to astro turf, to 3g pitches.
I highly recommend investing in some padded trousers and/or shorts. Personally I’d play matches in shorts, as rain and mud adds weight to your clothing and hinders movement. Save the trousers for training.
4. Padded Jersey
The majority of professional goalkeepers wear a long-sleeved padded jersey to offer protection to their arms, elbows, and sometimes shoulders. If it’s brightly coloured, it also makes it easier for your team mates to see when you’re coming (e.g. to claim a high ball).
When playing on dry or hard surfaces, you have to feel confident that when you hit the ground you’ll be protected by your clothing. Otherwise, instinctively, you may try to protect your body before making the save.
If your team doesn’t provide a jersey with adequate protection — invest in one yourself.
5. Water Bottle
A sports water bottle has made my list of essential goalkeeper equipment for a few reasons:
- On a bone-dry hot day you may need some moistness on your glove palms to improve the grip of the latex. I prefer to have my gloves very slightly damp to touch.
- In murky conditions you may need to rise off some thick excess mud from your gloves or boots.
- You might get thirsty during a game!
I must admit, I’ve played in some awful conditions. Keeping a sports water bottle by the post was a good habit to get into.
6. Glove Towel
Glove towels help keepers maintain grip on their gloves throughout the game. It makes it onto my list of essential goalkeeping equipment because there’s really no good reason not to have one. In fact, any soft lint-free towel will suffice — there’s nothing particularly unique about a glove towel.
The idea is that in extremely wet, muddy conditions you can wipe your gloves clean whenever you have a spare moment. I recommend hanging it in the side netting for quick access.
After all, the last thing you want is for the ball to feel like a bar of soap whenever you try to catch a shot at goal, or a cross played into the box.
7. Socks & Shin Pads
Football socks are a necessary item of goalkeeper equipment; regular sports socks won’t protect your feet from blisters.
It’s also crucial, and mandatory, that you wear shin pads. They’re especially important for goalkeepers who dive at the feet of attackers (and therefore get kicked and studded on a regular basis).
Most popular brands of socks and shin pads will do fine. I prefer to use shin pads with built-in ankle protectors. With so many crunching 1v1’s, keepers benefit from having that extra layer.
Optional Goalkeeper Equipment
1. Agility Ladder
Use agility ladders for footwork and fitness training in the garden, over the park — even indoors if you have enough space. It’s practically an essential item of goalkeeper equipment.
Your GK coach will almost certainly provide agility ladders in training. They’re a great low investment for any goalkeeper.
To setup simple drills yourself, purchase a set of cones (or the above agility ladder set, which includes cones).
Use cones to practice footwork, fitness and to create match-like deflections. Take a look at my post How Can Goalkeepers Improve Their Reflexes? to see how cones are used in training.
3. Knee Pads
If you’re keen to wear shorts (recommended for real games), then you leave your knees exposed to hard ground.
Luckily there’s some light-weight & unobtrusive knee pads designed for all sports.
4. Finger Tape
Many goalkeepers use finger tape to give them a little extra strength and protection.
I’ve never personally felt the need for it — but then again I played with fingersave gloves for long spells. Finger tape offers an equivalent level of protection without loss of hand flexibility.
This one’s for the older guys.
Do you feel the need to bulk up a little? Are you lacking the strength needed as a keeper?
I recall the shock of going from U18 into men’s football. The game was far more physical. I went from being one of the most physically developed, robust players on the pitch to taking heavy knocks in almost every fixture. I had the height and physique — but lacked the natural strength that comes with age. Protein intake, accompanied by the right gym workouts, certainly would’ve helped.
I’ll provide details on this soon.
6. Wrist, Ankle, & Elbow Supports
Supports are used to assist with recovery from moderate ligament and tendon injuries.
If you’re fresh back from an injury then joint supports will provide a bit of additional stability, and help make you feel more confident in training and/or games.
7. Baseball Cap
Every keeper has experienced the sunlight shining in their eyes. And it’s a nightmare to play with.
Outfield players can afford to misjudge the high ball when they’re blinded by the sun. But when a Keeper experiences the same issue, the consequences are fatal. You can’t afford to let the weather conditions get the better of your performance.
Despite a baseball cap looking slightly unorthodox out on the football pitch, it can be a life-saver.
8. Glove Wash
Glove Wash is another item that came close to making my list of essential goalkeeper equipment.
Without glove wash, your goalkeeper gloves will dry out, offer less grip and become more prone to tearing. Specialist glove wash fluids are designed to maintain the performance of your gloves and improve their lifespan.
9. GPS Tracker Vest & App
If you’re keen to work on your fitness, nutrition, and in-game positioning, then you could invest in the latest innovation in football training: GPS tracking vests.
The Playr GPS vest is designed to analyse and improve your game. It provides advice for preparation, performance and recovery with expertise on training and nutrition from Premier League coaches.
Using the app you’re able to analyse speed, sprint, distance, and positioning via heatmaps, to gain a full understanding of your game. Compare your numbers against friends and professional players to see how you match up.
10. Rebound Net
Rebound nets are used as a training aid for volleys, first touches, headers and — most importantly — goalkeeping saves.
You can add a challenging and unpredictable element to your training drills, as demonstrated in my Goalkeeper Reactions & Reflexes post. A great piece of equipment, if you have the space.
I’ll continue to add to this list of goalkeeper equipment as new items hit the market.