Choosing Your Goalkeeper Gloves
It is not required but it is recommended that goalkeepers wear goalkeeper gloves. Goalkeeper gloves not only give you a better grip on the ball, but they offer protection and cushioning for the fingers, palms and wrists. Some gloves offer extra protection for the fingers by the use of flexible "sticks" that run along the fingers in the gloves. Some gloves offer the extra cushioning of thicker latex.
When you choose a more expensive glove you would expect that you are buying a product that will last longer; but that isn't necessarily the case. The most expensive goalie gloves are engineered for grip and protection, not durability. They won't last as long because the best material for grip (stickier) is not as durable as the cheaper materials because it is softer. Each manufacturer uses various formulas of latex and many apply their own patented technology to their goalkeeper gloves. Some use chemical treatments while others literally sculpt the latex to give it a certain look, feel, and flexibility.
The thicker the glove, and especially true with gloves that feature both internal and external latex, the more difficult the glove is to control and manipulate. Good finger protection also adds to this issue. A 12 year old or younger has no business using a 6mm palm because the latex is very thick and the feel of the ball is diminished. Children that young need to learn to use their hands to catch and not rely on the gloves to do it for them.
There are different goalie gloves for all weather conditions, levels of skill, and even some that claims to be for specific field conditions. That is not to say that an aqua palm glove will not work in dry conditions or that a giga or mega grip glove will not work in the wet. The different palms are used to provide maximum benefit in certain conditions. There are many palm latexes available, Super Soft is an excellent all around palm, Giga and Mega provide a slightly better grip, New Basic and Super Low are more durable and Wet N Dry and Aqua are better in wetter conditions. Typically a thinner latex would be used for wet conditions to keep the glove from holding too much water. Dryer conditions allow for a thicker latex since it will not be absorbing water through the session. Gloves claiming to be for a specific field conditions are nothing more than marketing. Longer or shorter cleats make sense for wet or dry fields but a goalkeeping glove does not care if the ball has been struck out of a pit of swamp muck or sand. All the glove cares about is if the ball is wet or dry.
Finger protection (finger save) has become popular over the last few years and is now trending to all 5 fingers. Originally it was only available for 4 fingers. Buying a finger save glove that you can easily bend the middle of the fingers back is a waste of money because there is no support for the fingers. Some sticks are anatomically curved and some allow the fingers to straighten. Some gloves have sticks in 4 fingers, some have sticks in all 5. Some goalkeepers buy gloves with removable finger sticks and only use the sticks in certain fingers and some purchase them after a finger injury and only use the stick on that finger while it heals. A goalkeeper should not rely on finger sticks to help them catch a ball. If that is the case then they need to be exposed to exercises to help strengthen the fingers and wrists.
Most goalkeeper gloves are made from a smooth latex. Typically smooth latex provides the best grip because of the available contact surface to the ball. Dimpled and textured latex gloves are also available. They offer more durability but their grip is not as good as smooth latex gloves. Some manufacturers also utilize different treatments to increase the tackiness of the glove. Typically the better the latex, the better the gloves will perform but the shorter the life.
Most goalkeepers will have two pairs of the same gloves, one for practice and one for games. Many goalkeepers have an inexpensive durable pair of gloves or use last season's game gloves for practice and one pair of the more expensive goalkeepers gloves that are ONLY used for games. Obviously you want to be playing with your best goalkeeper gloves during the match but at the end of the day the palm style, palm latex, and finger protection options are all up to individual preference.
Utilize the internet and especially forums. You will run across "glove genius" types who tell you they don't like "the feel of velcro in the back hand" or something else crazy but you will also find some overall general good discussion and advice. The velcro comment is a real comment I read once. How anyone could tell that the back hand had velcro in it through 8mm of mesh and latex tells you how silly some will go to seem intelligent in these forums.