Most likely, you have already used some goalkeeper gloves of different brands and different price ranges. So you might think that you are a glove expert. We as goalkeeper gloves brands think you are the experts. Nothing is less true. The real expert when it comes to goalkeeper gloves is Richard Avis. His credentials are too long to list here, but know this: he developed FingerSave for adidas, the Tiempo (now called Premier) and Vapor Grip for Nike, and the Umbro ‘Webb’ platform, among many other real innovations. He worked one-on-one with goalkeepers such as Kasey Keller and Tim Howard. His method of testing gloves is so solid and so scientific. So let’s tell him a bit about what “grip” really is. So Richard is all yours :-)
What defines ‘Grip’ for you…?
‘Grip’ is a vague term that most goalkeepers don’t think about too much. You just know what it is, even though it might be hard to explain. You know it when you feel it. Values we assign are interpretative, depending on our knowledge and how much experience we have with other latex types.
Grip is associated with friction. Friction indicates how one surface (Latex) resists the movement of another surface (Ball). Seems simple enough, but the relationship between grip and palm is personal and complex. What we perceive as grip has to do with many factors beyond the friction between ball and latex.
Grip can be measured
Friction properties (coefficient of friction) can be easily measured using the ASTM D1894 protocol. The device can cost a lot of money, so few brand headquarters are equipped with it, but latex suppliers and the larger glove factories will at least have a version.
The ASTM D1894 is useful for certain things, but it wipes claims about grip off the table when the data comes from a sled-based test. Why? Because sled tests are one-dimensional, sled test data does not reflect how the latex will perform once it is cut and sewn into the shape of a goalkeeper’s glove. Why? Because friction is not grip.
Latex that performs impressively in the one-dimensional sled test cannot be assumed to provide superior grip, because grip is a multi-dimensional result of several variables
- Environmental conditions (weather, surface,…)
- Psychophysiology (human behaviour)
- Leather type of the ball
- Fit and pattern (glove, ball interface)
The human aspect of grip
Each of us interprets these variables in our own way and assigns different priorities to them. What is most important to you may not be to someone else. Conclusions will therefore differ. Who is right? Everyone is right. This directly indicates how beautiful and fascinating it can be that a glove which you consider to be the best ever, is a glove that another goalkeeper would not choose.
In a blind test, you could have ten pairs of gloves made with latex from the same batch and still see deviations from the average. This is where experience and knowledge come into play. It is one thing to know what types of tests to run. It is a whole other thing to know how to interpret the data and what to do.
Another consideration (which you may want to remember for later) is the fact that latex can vary from batch to batch. The top latex from brand A may have been fantastic on your first two pairs and then you get a pair that only catches on with the fourth or fifth wash or wear.
We sometimes get the question of this latex is better than this latex, is that possible? The above explanation already gives you an answer. Yet we make at Prostar only use of manufacturers who have the necessary equipment to subject each batch of latex in the production to the friction test. If a latex does not achieve the friction coefficient that we have imposed, this latex will not be used in our production. This way you are always sure that you have the best latex on “paper”.