When given the choice between a football and a baseball mitt, some people prefer to use gloves when playing football. People who play on the offensive line typically wear gloves, as do wide receivers and defensive backs. Football gloves range from fairly thin leather with grip material sewn into the palm to heavy padding that covers most of the back of the hand. Either way, these gloves are made to help the player grip or catch better, but why?

The Weight of Water

Water is heavy. The oceans rest on top of Earth’s crust because their own weight presses down on them. If you took a football and filled it with water until it was so heavy that you could barely hold it, you would notice that the ball itself changed shape slightly. This is because it would take on the weight of the water inside; in other words, it would become heavier.

Aerodynamics and Friction

When a football player holds out his hand to catch a pass, he wants as few variables as possible between him and the ball. For example, if the weather is nasty outside and everything is wet from rain, a player might have to catch a ball with one hand instead of two or be unable to palm it properly because his hands are cold and damp. Gloves prevent this problem by preventing friction between the surface of the football and the player’s hand.

Palming a Football

The concept of palming a football is simple: If you squeeze a football out of its usual shape, the air inside will force it back into that shape. This happens all the time in common sports such as basketball and soccer. The problem with a wet or cold ball is that when you attempt to palm it, your hand sticks to the ball’s surface because of water or frost. Water causes this problem by creating more friction between your palm and the ball, while frost does it by completely freezing your hand to the ball. Gloves prevent the player from getting stuck to his football in these ways.

Sizing Up Your Gloves

When buying gloves for playing football, you should use the same measurements you would normally use to buy gloves for other sports. Gloves come in all different sizes, and one size does not fit all. It is important to try on several pairs before you make a decision.

What Size Gloves

If your choice is between two glove sizes, choose the larger pair. Remember that even if your gloves are the correct size, they might not fit quite right if you happen to have larger or smaller hands. The larger size will stretch further, which is why it is better than a slightly too-small pair of gloves.

How Long Will Your Gloves Last

A good rule of thumb is that each player should own no fewer than three pairs of football gloves at any given time, or one pair for each day you are expected to play. These are just enough to have on hand in case your first pair gets wet or soiled during a game.

Football Gloves Aren’t Sticky Enough

Gloves should stick well enough to the ball to help control it after it is caught, but they should not stick so well that the player cannot get them off. If your gloves are too sticky, you risk injuring yourself by trying to rip them off of your hands.

Football sticky gloves

When given the choice between a football and a baseball mitt, some people prefer to use gloves when playing football. People who play on the offensive line typically wear gloves, as do wide receivers and defensive backs. Football gloves range from fairly thin leather with grip material sewn into the palm to heavy padding that covers most of the back of the hand.