MadSci Network: Physics Query:

### Re: Why do soccer gloves help goalies catch balls?

Date: Sat Jan 12 07:09:54 2002
Posted By: Gareth Evans, Senior Research Associate
Area of science: Physics
ID: 1010443661.Ph
Message:
```
Brian thanks for your question.:- “Why do soccer gloves work to help
goalies catch soccer balls? Is it related to friction? Can I improve my
ability to catch balls by changing the materials used in the gloves
(rubber, leather, felt, etc.)?”

You have almost answered it yourself.  Yes it is related to friction.  In
this situation we can think of friction as the resistance to the movement
of the surface of the glove across the ball’s surface.
Often, friction depends on whether the surfaces are actually rubbing
together or are static.  We sometimes call the static friction “stiction”
and it is usually higher than the “dynamic” or moving friction.  This is
because when the surfaces are moving, some air or water can get between
the surfaces and can lubricate them by reducing the area of the surfaces
on contact with each other.  It is important for goalies to hang on to the
ball when they catch it so this static friction is important.

If you look at some goalie gloves they have a tin layer of synthetic
rubber foam on the front.  This is usually smooth so that contact area is
maximised and the static friction is high..  The foam probably helps to
absorb some of the impact of the ball and will help keep your hands warm.
My son is a goalie and in most countries, soccer is a winter game.  Felt
or woollen gloves would keep you warm but have rough surfaces and low
friction.  You can easily tell the difference if you handle a ball with
different types of glove.  My son, of course, insists on expensive gloves
and replaces them when the foam gets worn.  Who do you think pays for
this ?

```

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