Spring is here and pal Bernice has soccer on the brain. A layer of dust has descended on her cleats in the closet. Her shoe size is a higher number, as is her jersey size; it’s been a long time since she patrolled a goal box. “I’m getting back in the game,” she announced to me last week, “and I need all new equipment,” she added. Well, the gal’s birthday is a week away. Need I say more?
Amy Arrizon was just the person I needed. She’s a sales clerk at Soccer Nation (760-758-1179) in Vista and a goalie. “I can tell you my favorites,” Arrizon continued. “I wear a Reusch jersey, a German brand. I love the way it fits, especially for a woman. It’s not too tight and it has air holes so you can breathe in it.”
As for padding, “there is some on the elbows, but the padding is really thin, so it doesn’t really protect that much. The long-sleeved jersey style itself will give you some protection when you are sliding or slipping. I buy the extra padding for $15 more, so that I get the full-padded elbow pad. It’s kind of like what skateboarders wear; you just slip on the extra padding on the inside or outside of the jersey. That has prevented a lot of bruises and pain.”
For shorts, Arrizon prefers Reusch as well. “They’re comfortable and none of the other brands have that same breathing style. So when it gets hot, you are not sweating like a dog. There is some padding on the sides. A lot of girls don’t like the side padding because it makes them look bigger. I buy the kneepads and I try to cover my knees because that’s mainly where I fall. The pants have a thin layer of padding on the side; they can have it on the top by the thigh and then mainly on the knee.
“For the goalie gloves, which is the important thing, I wear the Diadora brand gloves made in Italy. Diadora still takes the time to actually know what the player needs: they have an excellent grip and are very well stitched. They have that European quality to them. Some gloves have what is called ‘fingersave,’ which prevents your fingers from twisting and breaking. There are some gloves that come with the fingersave and you can barely move your hands. But Diadoras have really good flexing. The palm will have the grip, so when you grab the ball, it is going to stick to the ball. The gloves run anywhere from $35 up to $109, but I wear the $75 pair. They will last two to three seasons.”
What about the fit of the glove?
“The gloves should be snug,” Arrizon said. “Some people think the bigger the glove, the bigger hand you have. But that is a completely bogus idea because every time you try to save a ball, if you don’t have your finger in that space, the ball will just fly through it. The gloves need to be snug so you can feel the ball.”
Are back-up gloves recommended?
“I know a lot of guys that want a backup pair to practice with, but it is not necessary.”
For shin guards, “it just depends how much a person wants to spend. I wear $5 to $10 shin guards. You can buy the expensive Nike shin guards and you’re going to get the same outcome as wearing the cheaper Joma shin guards. During the game, if someone hits you on the side, they are going to hit you on the side. There is no shin guard that goes around your whole leg.” For the fit, “they should fit about three inches below the knee because you want to be able to flex your knee. If the shin guard is too long, then you’re not going to be able to move.”
And for cleats, “I tell goalies they need to buy a comfortable pair of cleats because they are going to be squatting a lot. People want to go for the nice looking high cleats, but when you are a goalie, you are going to notice you need something comfortable. So I go not too high on my cleats.”
I got some more soccer tidbits from Adam Jacobs, retail manager at Soccer Fanatic in Serra Mesa (858-715-6800). Gloves are supposed to have just a little bit of space so that the fingers don’t pop out of the tips, he explained. “You just want to leave a little bit of room. The purpose of the gloves is for protection but more so for grip. As you go up the line with price, they give a little bit higher quality material as far as the grip goes. The glove grips the ball a little better; it is a little softer. It’s suggested to have a game pair and a practice pair because goalie gloves will wear through pretty fast, depending on the kind of player and how often they play.”
The fingersave gloves “have a spine in the fingers to prevent them from bending backwards. A lot of people like the extra protection, but some people think it is a little cumbersome. Goalies who have dislocated or broken fingers usually swear by them, but other goalies won’t use them because they want more mobility with their fingers.”
As for cleats, “I have heard from some keepers that they wear a bladed cleat, which allows a little more lateral movement. But mainly it is personal preference.”