Not all soccer clothing is created equal. When you need extra protection on the pitch, modern lower-body options are available to help guard you while you guard between the goalposts.
The goalkeeper position is a demanding one. If you’re a new goalie, overcoming your nerves can be a challenge. It’s you versus the soccer ball. You are the ultimate defender whose job it is to block goals, and that means diving, leaping and lunging to save the ball from ending up in the net. Constantly in motion at the focal point of every game, you need confidence and focus to block shots.
To help protect you when you guard your team’s goal, you’ll need a pair of goalie pants or shorts. Here’s what to look for when making your purchase.
Whether you’re looking for pants or shorts, there are a few main features to focus on.
First, look for breathable, moisture-wicking material to help keep you cool and dry even when the game heats up.
Also, performance fabrics sewn into key movement areas like your knees are important. These are usually elastic-based and allow for greater flexibility without feeling constricted. Look for pants and shorts with an adjustable waist as well.
The most important choice, however, has to do with padding. What model you choose will come down to preference, because every option has tradeoffs.
For instance, a pair of pants or shorts that offers the most protection will be padded at the hip, thigh, knee and tailbone with thick foam. But these full-protection options may limit your range of motion.
If you want to maximize your range of motion while retaining some protection, try to find a design with thin, formed padding in fewer areas. The thickness of the pads can make a huge difference in range of motion. At the very least, if you choose to go with pants that have less padding, make sure there’s cushion at the hips and knees.
Going beyond these key features, you also need to choose a style.
To dress for maximum protection on the pitch, wear goalie pants.
At lower levels of play, fields are often made of natural grass, which can be patchy or rocky. When playing on these fields or on rough artificial turf, diving for a ball can result in scrapes and scratches on your legs, making full-leg coverage more important. That’s why you may consider wearing soccer pants instead of shorts.
Advanced players on better-kept turf tend to prefer the larger range of motion offered by goalie shorts. It’s still important, however, to find a pair of shorts with hip and knee padding. The good news is there are models available that can offer just as much protection above the knee as pants, with molded wraparound pads.
Even more versatile are sliding shorts. Designed for compression, they’re thinner and worn under standard soccer pants or shorts. This style frequently has very thin padding. While they limit your range of motion less than any other style, they offer the least protection.
For a comfortable compromise between pants and shorts, try 3/4 length pants, which leave your lower legs exposed but are less restrictive than full-length pants.
A loose-fitting pair of goalie pants or shorts won’t protect you at all. For the pads to work properly and to keep them out of your way, you need a pair that fits a little more snug than a standard pair of soccer shorts.
Although you usually can buy your standard clothing size, sizing does vary by brand, so be sure to check the item’s size chart before making your final decision.
Goalkeepers have one of the toughest jobs on the field. But now that you know how to find the best pair of goalie pants and shorts for your style of play, you’ll be better protected as you protect your team’s goal.