Football: How to Buy Gloves
Eastbay Cleated Copywriter, T. Scharfenberg | Date: 07/3/2013
Offense or defense, speed or strength, football players need the right gloves for their position. Get guidelines for material, fit, padding and more.
If you're looking for the best football gloves for you, you'll need to consider two things: basic qualities of the glove, and the qualities that your position demands. Before we dive into those details, you need to know the standards that your gloves must meet. In competitive play, your gloves can be any color except the color of the ball. For high school players, your gloves will need NOCSAE approval for the NFHS. These standards "establish performance requirements on friction and adhesion properties and is specifically created to limit the level of stick/tackiness of football gloves." You can find this information within the product descriptions and your gloves will be tagged or stamped as NOCSAE approved.
Glove Back Material
The back of your glove is just as important as the palm, but it's often not thought of that way. The back of the hand also has its own performance technology. Usually, gloves are made from leather, synthetic or spandex. Leather will be durable, flexible and breathable. It doesn't interfere with gripping the ball, but will usually cost a little more. If you wear synthetic, you're using a material than can be extra comfortable, but less breathable. To combat that, try pairing synthetic with ventilated mesh to keep your hands from getting sweaty. Lastly, a spandex or stretch material will make your gloves very flexible. Often you'll find stretch elements within synthetic gloves as well, especially in gloves designed for running backs, receivers or defensive backs.
The palm of your glove is where the performance aspects are really packed on. Using leather or latex, the palm of every glove is created for grip. Your grip may be for catching passes, or it may be for grabbing opponents, but it's there either way. Usually the palm of any glove is treated with chemicals to give it the proper grip for its task. One of the most famous glove treatments is C-TACK™, built into Cutters gloves. The grip technology is part of the glove material, so it will last exceptionally long. If you choose leather, you'll get a more durable palm that is slightly stiffer. Latex will often give you a better fit and grip, but its increased grip can fade in wet weather.
The fit of your glove is entirely up to you. You can follow a sizing guide, then go one size up if you prefer a loose glove, one size down for a tight glove. Keep in mind that over time, your glove may shrink a bit from the drying effects of sweat, water and dirt.
When you're trying to determine your size, you should measure from the base of your palm to the tip of your middle finger. Based on this length, you can determine your size. For specific sizes for each glove, Eastbay has a sizing tab within the glove's product description that will display sizing guidelines like these:
It's all about catching, so receiver glove palms are completely covered in sticky material. They are generally form fitting and minimalist. Because of the emphasis on grip, a proper fit is more important here than with a padded style. Often running backs and defensive backs use these receiver-type styles, in addition to wide outs. You may even see a pair on a quarterback if the weather is especially cold. If you're playing in these gloves, you may notice the grip wearing out after some time. For this reason, elite players like to use their older gloves in practice while keeping a newer pair for game day.
Linemen gloves have to stand up to a lot more contact than receiver's gloves do. For that reason, these gloves are much more focused on protecting your hands. They are padded over the top of the hand, the knuckles, the palms and sometimes the wrist and thumb as well. Usually these styles are built with a leather palm to add strength and durability, important for these hard-hitting gloves. The leather is treated to avoid slipping off of jerseys on the line. Lastly, linemen gloves come in half-finger or full-finger styles. It's your choice of feel versus protection. To compare, take a look at the adidas Big Ugly Linemen Glove in both a half-finger and full-finger design.
Gloves by Position
This is where your position really matters. You already know that you need grip or padding, but what about the fit, the location and level of pads, the flex? This section can guide you through what elite-level players look for and our recommendations on how to get those qualities.
- Grip is the important factor, so you want a sticky palm that is soft and flexible for a fuller range of motion.
- Some backs like some padding on the back of the hand as well, but don't pack on so much that it interferes with gripping.
- DJ Hayden, Oakland Raiders' first round draft pick: "I've got to have them sticky, and a fresh pair is ideal. I don't like them too tight or I rip them. If they're a little loose then I can move my fingers.
- Recommended: The adidas adiZero 5-Star Receiver Glove is super light, with an expansion recess that allows for full stretch without tearing. It's built with a Grip Tack palm for long-lasting stick in any weather.
- Recommended: For DB's that demand a unique look, the Nike Vapor Fly Receiver Gloves are all about the palms. With Magnigrip extending onto the wrist, a palm print, and ultra-bright colors and patterns, you're light and fly.
- These gloves should be heavily padded at the back of the hand to prevent injury when your hands are stepped on or caught in a facemask.
- A more rigid frame for supporting your hand and standing up to contact is ideal.
- Josh Boyd, Green Bay Packers: "I like a lot of padding over the top of the gloves and on the inside, with wrist support because I punch a lot. Stickiness isn't that important to me."
- Recommended: Nike's Hyperbeast 2.0 Lineman Gloves have been updated to include both padding and mobility. Compression-molded, gel palm padding and extended fingertip pads cover without interfering with your hold.
- Recommended: The Cutters Reinforcer Lineman Glove specializes in support instead. Finger reinforcement minimizes the risk of hyperextending and injuring your fingers. It includes tacky pads on the fingertips and lower hand.
- You'll want a little of everything, both padding and a tacky palm.
- Keep the padding soft and flexible so it doesn't affect your grip. Shoot for middle ground.
- Sio Moore, Oakland Raiders: "I like to have a little bit of padding. Sometimes you have to go down there in the trenches and get your hands on people. But they have to stay sticky in front to catch that ball."
- Recommended: For the mid-level protection, the Cutters Shockskin Lineman Gloves keep it light. Rows of light EVA padding over the hand and fingers, paired with their C-TACK material on the palm.
- Like the D-Line, heavy padding and a rigid style are a must for taking care of your hands during striking.
- The goal is to have padding all the way around, including on the palms.
- Emmett Cleary, Philadelphia Eagles: "Line gloves have to be sturdier. I still like a little tack, a little flexibility so I can use my hands. But things get smashed in there and you have to protect yourself. Some gloves have nice pads right in the heel so when you're punching, you're not messing yourself up."
- Recommended: Aside from the Big Ugly mentioned earlier, the adidas Malice II Lineman gloves are also a good choice for the big guys on the field. These include three jam pods to protect the heel of the hand and palm. The top grain leather adds durability to the breathable mesh back.
- Usually QBs are only seen in gloves if it's especially cold. If you're going to try one, you may want a receiver-style grip to help throw the ball.
- Ryan Nassib, New York Giants: "If it's a colder game, I always wear a left-handed glove, just to make sure I have a little more grip."
- Recommended: The Under Armour ColdGear Off-Field Glove is a great cold weather protector, thanks to the pro-grade insulation and grippy logo treatment that adds just a bit of tack to the palm.
- A soft, flexible glove with a good fit is important. Many running backs prefer a light and tight style with good grip.
- You can have a little padding if you prefer, but it should be limited to the knuckles and fingers so it's not interfering with holding the ball.
- George Winn, Houston Texans: "I like to wear sticky gloves and make sure they're not too sweaty so they don't slip during a game. I make sure they're not too bulky so I still have the ability to move my hands and cover the ball up."
- Recommended: Nike's Superbad 2.0 Padded Receiver Glove are a long-time favorite. Back with newer colors this season, they'll give you a little padding on the knuckles, but still keeps a top-level receiver's stick on the palm.
- Recommended: For the mid-range padding ideal for running backs, try the Cutters Shockskin Gamer Padded Gloves. EVA backhand padding includes flex channels that allow for natural, unrestricted movement over the durable C-TACK™ palm.
- Varied roles mean varied requirements for gloves. Look for a light glove with a combination of grip and padding, focusing on your needs as more of a blocker or more of a receiver.
- While you want lightweight, don't sacrifice durability. A flimsy glove won't help when you're hitting.
- Dion Sims, Miami Dolphins: "Just a little extra stick to catch the ball helps me out a little bit. I had pads on my fingertips and the palm as well."
- Recommended: If you're more of the receiving type, try the Cutters Yin Yang X40 glove. It comes is flashy color combinations with built-in C-TACK™ grip. Cutters has made this one with an improved fit and lighter weight.
- Recommended: For the blocking specialists, the adidas POWERWEB 2.0 keeps the tackiness, but adds ¼" foam padding over the back and a supportive 1" neoprene wrist.
- It's no secret that a sticky glove palm is critical. The material that holds this grip should be flexible, lightweight and thin enough to really feel the ball.
- The fit that receivers prefer is varied. A tighter fit will give you more ball feel. A looser fit, more flex. Just don't go too loose, to the point that your glove is slipping when you catch.
- Carl Givens, Westminster: "I like gloves that come down to cover my wrist and feel like they're attached the whole time, nothing loose. I like them extra tight so I can feel the ball. I'm not a big padding guy."
- Recommended: If you're looking for a brand new, striking style, it's all about the Under Armour Highlight Gloves. The super-sticky GrabTack palm continues down onto the CompFit™ wrist for support and performance.
- Recommended: If you're more of a tried and true player, the Nike Vapor Jet 2.0 Receiver Glove is a popular option. It gives great freedom and breathability thanks to its vented mesh back. You get many color choices in this model too.
To get even more information on gloves for your position, take a look through the video interviews within Eastbay Field Tested. It contains tons of input from this year's draft prospects, including the quotes you read here. These athletes give you a great rundown of what they want in their gloves. Eastbay Field Tested will prep you for the field, and along with the perfect pair of gloves, help take your game to a higher level.