Question of the day- Have you ever broken your thumb? Chances are that if you’ve been in goal for several years, the answer is “Yes.” If it’s not, either you neglected to see a doctor or it’s only a matter of time. Should that scare you out of becoming a goalie? ABSOLUTELY NOT.
As goalies, we step into cage knowing rubber balls will be flung at us at high velocities. Bruises are a part of the game, but often an unspoken rite of passage is hurting your thumb in some way. Almost every goalie is taught to hold their stick close to or on the plastic of the head of their stick. Most are also told to drive this top hand to the ball. Naturally, we’re putting our very hand in harms way. In fact, not only are we putting it there, we’re deliberately driving it within inches of a ball going upwards of 100mph sometimes.
Over the years, lacrosse companies have started to recognize this common injury and have begun to address it with increased thumb protection. That being said, extra protection is not a requirement at any level, which leaves us goalies with an option of wearing men’s field gloves or goalie specific gloves. Let’s break it down into pros and cons for both:
Men’s Field Gloves
Goalie Specific Gloves
So, there you have it. My personal advice? If you’re at the high school level or higher, you should opt to wear goalie specific gloves. With shot speed increasing, chances are high that you’ll take a good bruiser to your thumb. Simply put- it’s not worth it to take yourself out of the game when it comes to an injury that you can at least attempt to prevent. While purchasing and wearing goalie gloves is not a foolproof method, it’s one that you should consider taking. If you’re not yet in high school, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get used to the feeling of goalie gloves. No, they’re not extremely different, but they are different. Plus you never know when the perfect shot might come and hit you at the wrong spot.
When choosing a goalie glove, make sure that it fits properly. Your hand should fit snug, but not too tight. You should be able to move your thumb but the glove is naturally supposed to inhibit a range of motion, so don’t get caught off guard if it feels too restricted. Try on multiple manufacturers gloves. Different companies use different technology in their thumb piece. I can’t speak to whether one is better than the other, but from Brine to Warrior to STX, I’ve yet to find a goalie glove that didn’t feel good. My advice, look for the one with a hard plastic/metal piece insert. A flimsy thumb tip just isn’t going to provide the protection you need.
Best of luck to everyone out there in this weekend’s games, break a leg (and not your thumb!).