When the whole game can come down to one catch, you’ll do everything you can to ensure that you make it. That’s why in football’s early days, it was common for players to line their hands with “stickum”. This spray-on adhesive made catching the ball much easier, so much so that the NFL banned it in 1981. It’s why players began using everything from gloves to glue after stickum’s ban, all in the hopes of gaining even the slightest edge. And it’s why almost every player on the field today will wear some kind of gloves, whether it’s for extra grip, protection or a bit of both.
Great gloves aren’t magic. They won’t make an expert of an amateur, but they will let players reach their full potential. Unless you’re Eric Berry, chances are that you’re going to need the right pair of gloves if you want to play the game at any level. The real question is, how do you pick the right ones?
- Factors to Consider When Looking at Football Gloves
- Top 6 Best Football Gloves 2021
- 1. Best Overall Football Gloves: Cutters Gamer Padded Gloves
- 2. Best Receiver Gloves: Nike Vapor Jet 5.0
- 3. Best Lineman Gloves: Adidas Freak Max Lineman Gloves
- 4. Best Premium Football Gloves: Under Armour Men’s Fierce VI
- 5. Best Budget Football Gloves: Cutters Rev Pro 3.0
- 6. Best Lightweight Lineman Gloves: Cutters Force 3.0
- Top 4 Best Youth Football Gloves
- The Ultimate Buyers’ Guide to Football Gloves
- Wrapping Up
Factors to Consider When Looking at Football Gloves
Finding the right gloves can seem quite complex, but once you learn the basics it’s actually pretty simple. The first thing you need to know is the difference between the two distinctive styles of gloves worn by football players.
Receiver Gloves vs. Lineman Gloves
In football, every player fulfills a distinct role on the field, so different players have different needs when it comes to equipment. Ask a quarterback to play in lineman gloves and you’ll get a lot of laughs, but you probably won’t win any games.
You can seperate gloves into two different styles: receiver gloves and lineman gloves.
- Receiver gloves are thin, and aim to give players as much movement in their hands as possible
- They’re normally highly breathable and designed to keep players’ hands from sweating
- The palm side is incredibly sticky to help with catching and handling
- Lineman gloves are primarily designed to protect players’ hands
- They feature a lot more padding and protection than receiver gloves
- They’re bulky and tend to restrict movement
These are the two traditional types of gloves you’ll commonly find. In recent years, a third type of glove has seen a surge of popularity: the hybrid.
- These are essentially receiver gloves with extra padding
- They’re designed to suit players who need great tackiness and control, but are also involved in enough clashes with the opposition to want some extra protection
Tackiness and Grip
The biggest thing you’ll be looking for in receiver’s gloves is a tacky palm and fingertips. The difference it makes to catching the ball, handling it and keeping hold of it under pressure is pretty massive. That’s why you’ll see them at pretty much every level of football, from your local amateur league right up to the NFL.
Almost all of the big brands have now developed a palm that’s extremely tacky. The main difference is in how that tackiness reacts in bad weather conditions, and how long the surface lasts before needing renewal.
Ventilation is a key part of all football gloves. Wicking away sweat and keeping things as cool as possible are both very important.
The tacky palm in receiver gloves generally lacks breathability and ventilation, so the rest of the glove is designed to help counteract this as much as possible. Lightweight, highly breathably synthetics are highly desirable, as are any vents designed to let air out.
Lineman gloves have a lot more material to deal with, so ventilation is absolutely key for them. Without good ventilation measures, a lineman glove can get pretty uncomfortable during play, which is obviously not desirable.
Protection normally comes in the form of strategically placed padding. The back of the hands, particularly your thumbs and fingers, are big areas of concern. 48% of football injuries involve fingers, so it’s an area that many players are understandably keen to protect.
Traditionally, you’d mostly find padding as a feature for linemen, but the emergence of hybrid gloves has seen players in other positions adopt small pieces of padding specifically designed to help protect their digits from harm.
Almost all football gloves will also include some sort of safety feature around the wrist. The lightest gloves offer a bit of extra support and protection in their straps, whilst heavier gloves often opt for often double wraps and extra padding that provides a more robust guard.
Now that you know what to look for, we’ll go over then ten best pairs of football gloves on the market today. We’ll be ranking the best children’s football gloves seperately, so feel free to skip to that section if that’s what you’re looking for.
Top 6 Best Football Gloves 2021
Sizes: S to XXXL
Colors: Black, red, blue, white
The Gamer gloves definitely fall onto the lighter side when it comes to padding. As a result, they feel incredibly similar to a normal pair of receiver gloves, but offer extra protection in key areas.
It’s a small thing but it makes a big difference. By protecting the vulnerable area on the back of your hand, you’re less likely to pick up an injury and much less likely to pick up those annoying scrapes and cuts that are all too common with thin receiver gloves.
The paneling is divided into parts, which means that it won’t interfere with your hand flexing as it grips. The outcome is added protection with very little of the downsides that padding normally brings to players that frequently handle the ball.
The way that the padding is set up leaves a section between your knuckles and your wrist completely free. Cutters are clever in their design here, and instead of opting for the usual side vent, they join the side up with this area to create one large vent.
The result is a glove that’s surprisingly breathable considering its fusion of tack and padding. The C-Tack on the palm is even lightly perforated too, adding just a little extra ventilation. Both of these features are small, but together they made quite a difference, and add a lot of extra ventilation to what would otherwise be a stuffy glove design.
The one downside to these gloves is their durability, although it’s hard to see what Cutters could really do about this. Gloves are fairly delicate by nature, and the stresses and strains put on them in the average game of football can really test even the best craftsmanship.
Sizes: S to XXXL
Colors: Black, orange, gold, red, white
Brilliant All Round Receiver
The key reason you’ll want to pick it up this glove is its tackiness. It’s up there with some of the best in the business, only (arguably) being beaten by Cutters Rev Pro 3.0 Football Gloves. Nike likens their technology to a magnet, and sometimes it really does feel like the ball is actually stuck to your glove.
Fit and Flexible
The Vapor Jet 5.0 pairs this excellent performance with an outstanding build. Thanks to its compressive fit, it sits very snug on your hand and is unlikely to come loose. The only downside is that the fit leaves it feeling a little bit less light as some of its competition, although it certainly isn’t heavy enough to be a big problem.
You might think that a compressive fit would limit your movement, but the glove itself counters that by being extremely flexible. This allows your hand to perform the full range of motion you’d want from a receiver glove. It’s particularly good bending downwards, an area where less flexible gloves can sometimes fall flat.
A Breath of Fresh Air
The Vapor Jet 5.0s finish off their impressive feature set by being extremely breathable. Their mesh back allows plenty of circulation and will keep your hands from overheating or excessively sweating, even in humid conditions.
Sizes: M to XXXXL
Colors: Black and white, white
The Freak Max is all about the high density molded padding that will keep your hands safe from shocks, bumps and rough tackles. It will also keep these gloves in great condition, even after the fiercest confrontations. It’s a big reason why the Freak Max is so often praised for their durability and consistent ability to do the job, game after game.
For a lineman, that’s essential. The last thing you want in a game is the worry in the back of your mind that your gear is going to give out if you go 100%. That confidence in your gloves is something you need if you’re going to go into every play with no hesitation. They’re too bulky for any position that would require you to regularly hold the ball, but they’re perfect for keeping your hands safe in the trenches.
If you do prefer a more light but slightly less padded lineman glove, we recommend the Cutters Force 3.0 Lineman Glove.
As we’ve already mentioned in this guide, traditional lineman gloves can get pretty hot. For players in humid temperatures, the results are not only uncomfortable on the field but are distinctly smelly off of it!
That’s why we love the Freak Max. They’re specifically designed to wick sweat away from the hands as much as possible, taking advantage of modern fabrics to offer a much more enjoyable, relatively sweat free, experience.
Over time this is going to make a big difference. You’ll want to wash your lineman gloves as little as you can, so every drop of sweat that gets wicked away from the interior buys you a little bit more time before you have to break out the pillow case and set a delicate cycle.
Ask any lineman about their experience with injury and they’ll tell you. It’s easy to suffer some damage when you’re in the heat of the moment. Every awkward fall and overextended wrist puts you in a position where you might get hurt. There’s a reason why wrist injuries are one of the most common in all of football.
The Freak Max does their best to stop that from happening. They make great use of an injection-molded tab to act as a double safety feature. First, it shields your wrists from impact, providing a protective layer just where you need it. Second, it gives you extra wrist support and helps prevent you from overextending your wrists.
Sizes: S to XXXL
Colors: Black, white and black
One of the biggest reasons to pick up the Fierce VI is the strategically placed protection over the fingers and thumb. Under Armour has done a great job here, packing in some pretty robust padding without adding much to the glove’s overall weight.
That’s a big plus for players looking to try out a hybrid glove. This padding is going to feel great to those used to only playing in receiver gloves, and offers considerably more protection. Most importantly, it doesn’t make the hand feel too unbalanced when it’s on, minimizing its impact on your game.
The golden question: does it still grip well? The answer is yes, it actually does a pretty great job. Players pretty much all agree that the level of tackiness on this glove is up there with the best of them, which will be welcome news to anyone who’s frequently handling the ball.
It’s not surprising, as Under Armour is packing the same GrabTack technology onto the palms and fingers of this glove as you’d find on all their other top of the line products. One of the main concerns people had about hybrid gloves was that they wouldn’t live up to the performance of pure receiver gloves, so it’s nice to see these gloves put that fear to bed.
We’d expect these gloves to get quite hot, with the pads on the back and a tacky surface on the front. Thankfully, Under Armour has done everything in their power to stop that from happening.
The general material used is very breathable and good at wicking away sweat. Better yet, they’ve made great use of the side panels to add in vents that really help to stop your hand from overheating.
Room for Improvement
The only real concern with these gloves is the finger protectors. They’re made of a single piece of material with a uniform width running all the way down the finger. This provides a decent amount of resistance when curling your hand and makes it harder to bend your fingers downwards.
Sizes: S to XXXL
Colors: Black, orange, gold, red, white
First things first, that insane grip seems to have only got better with the Pro 3.0. Most of the time with receiver gloves, the level of tackiness among the top brands is already so high that it’s hard to tell the difference.
Cutters seem to have cracked the code though. Their gloves offer a catching experience that many agree is the absolute best in the business and it’s hard to argue. Players seeking a perfect grip over the ball will love this extreme level of control and, better yet, they work well in pretty much all common weather conditions. Whereas other gloves seem to lose quite a lot of tackiness when it gets wet, the C-Tack technology delivers consistent results, even in a downpour.
Limited Life Expectancy
So why aren’t the Pro 3.0 gloves running away with the top spot? It all comes down to one thing, durability. On paper, it doesn’t seem like an issue. They’re made from durable materials and they maintain their tack well over time.
What the spec sheet doesn’t tell you is that the quality of the stitching is inconsistent. Some pairs last just fine, whilst others come apart at the seams quite a bit earlier than other brands. Receiver gloves will always suffer from wear and tear, but having them break down quickly due to poor stitching is another thing entirely.
Whether that’s a dealbreaker or not is really up to you. These are a truly brilliant pair of gloves but the trade-off is that you’ll realistically be getting through 2 pairs a season.
Sizes: M to XXXL
Colors: Black, white
The design philosophy of the Force 3.0 is definitely “less is more.” For those of us used to seriously bulky gloves for the position, it’s a bit of a shock. Despite being fairly protective, they’re so much lighter and more flexible than the traditional gloves that the difference is immediately noticeable. They feel considerably less clumsy and actually help you handle the ball, which is a pretty novel experience for most linemen.
One of the best side effects of this design is that it also offers incredible ventilation. Plenty of breathable material means that your hands get a lot less sweaty in there, and the sweat that does come is wicked away nicely.
Strategic placement of tacky pads gives you a considerably better grip with these gloves than you’d expect. Brands have been experimenting with a tacky pad on the underside of the palm for a while now, but Cutter’s decision to incorporate 5 fingerpads as well is a really nice touch.
Perhaps even more surprising is the fact that these tacky pads don’t stop the glove from being machine washable. The C-Tack used on them is self-restoring and, when washed under the right conditions, won’t lose any of its power when cleaned.
If this is all sounding too good to be true, we should mention that the Force 3.0s do come with a significant downside compared to other lineman gloves. They’re just not as rugged. Whether that’s in their overall build or in the protection that they offer, these gloves can’t quite compare to the solid builds many of us know and love.
Whether or not that’s a dealbreaker for you is a personal preference. For some, the padding on traditional gloves is overkill, and this lighter design will be nothing short of a miracle. For others, the lesser protection will defeat the entire reason why they wear gloves in the first place.
Top 4 Best Youth Football Gloves
Sizes: S to XL
Colors: Black, white and gold, green, yellow, pink, red, blue, silver, black and gold
One of the most common issues with football gloves is their tendency to come apart at the seams. To some extent it’s inevitable: for the price you pay and the way you use them, it would be strange if there wasn’t a lot of pressure on the seams.
The Ultra-Sticks try and add a little extra durability to your gloves with a reinforced seam, stitching and wear points. The result is a glove that can stand up to more punishment and take more regular use than many of its rivals.
Battle is so confident in their design that they offer a 90-day durability guarantee, a feature that should help put your mind at ease.
Battle’s own tacky palms are up there with the best of them. They provide an extra degree of grip and control that allows kids to make catches with confidence. They even work well in adverse weather conditions, something cheaper tack systems often miss.
This is definitely a major benefit. Rain makes the ball harder to catch as it is, and if your gloves’ tackiness also suffers from the rain, you’re stacking issue on issue and eventually it’s just going to come tumbling down. Just be sure to thoroughly dry them after rainy days!
Great Wrist Movement
Like many other football gloves, the Ultra-Sticks have a flexible velcro scrap for the wrist enclosure. It’s adjustable, allowing each child to fasten it to perfectly fit their own wrist.
This wrist area is designed to allow as much flex as possible, even when fully tightened. With stiffer straps and wrist areas, a tight velcro strap can impede the child’s movement and stop them from having the full range of motions in their wrist. The Ultra-Stick uses a flexible enclosure and wrist area to ensure that no matter how tight the strap is pulled, the hand can still move freely.
Though designed as receiver gloves, the Battle Ultra-Stick gloves are actually much more protective than most in that category. While they wouldn’t make perfect lineman gloves, they’d work well enough in a pinch for younger children and more casual competition.
Sizes: S to L
Colors: Black, black and pink, orange, green, yellow, navy, red, royal blue, pink, white, black and white
The HeatGear fabric used in the construction of these gloves is specifically designed to wick away sweat and moisture from the hand. This, combined with its breathability, helps to prevent the glove from becoming hot and loose inside. A sweaty glove palm can make a big difference when you’re trying to make an important catch!
The fabric is also relatively light and thin, which helps keep the hand feeling responsive. Gloves that are too thick and heavy often feel clumsy and this can really knock a receiver’s confidence.
Under Armour’s patented GrabTack technology provides an excellent surface to help kids with all of their catches. GrabTack is the same material used in the brand’s adult gloves and is one of the best in the game when it comes to providing a super sticky palm.
GrabTack is also more resilient than the generic tacky surfaces used by cheaper brands. Not only will it help boost on-field performance, but it will continue to do so consistently, game after game. This is a huge plus, as many kids’ gloves have a tendency to start losing their tackiness after only a few weeks.
If you’re buying sports equipment for kids, picking something machine washable will save a huge amount of hassle. In a sport like football, you’re going to have to contend with grass stains, and plenty of sweat.
Washing those kinds of stains by hand is incredibly frustrating, but some specialized sports gear will force you to do just that. Especially if it has a special surface like the tacky palms used on most football gloves. Thankfully, the F6 Youth is completely machine washable, and its Grab-Tak grip doesn’t lose grip after going for a spin.
The Adidas Techfit really lives up to its name. It’s packed full of great extras that bring this glove to a whole new level. Take the breathable mesh that’s laid underneath the padding on the back of the glove: unlike traditional lineman designs, this gives the glove a clear way to vent heat and wick away sweat, keeping the inside cool.
Then there’s the heavy duty, molded rubber closure. It provides support and protection to the wrist area, allowing kids to get stuck into their tackles with less fear of sprains and breaks. It’s a small detail but one that really helps cement this as a glove that’s had a lot of thought put into its design.
The same can be said for the molded pads, which do an excellent job of protecting the fingers and the knuckles. There’s even a clear thinning of the pad around the joint, making it much easier to bend your fingers and angle them downwards. This is a feature that’s even overlooked on quite a few of the best adult gloves!
Not Quite Seamless
No glove is perfect though, and the Techfit suffers from a seemingly inconsistency with the stitching and seams. Although this is a common problem with many receiver gloves, it’s not nearly as common with lineman gloves.
Seams beginning to open isn’t the end of the world but it is an unfortunate flaw with what are otherwise a truly exceptional pair of lineman gloves.
Sizes: S to XL
Colors: Black, white and black
Brilliant but Different
Adidas brand has really capitalized on the growing youth market and has brought many of its top-class features from the adult gloves down into junior sizes. They’re happy to provide the kind of customization that’s all too often missing in the youth market.
Take the Scorch Destroyer. It seems pretty similar to the Techfit and does in fact share a number of core features. It has molded lycra backplates to help absorb and dampen shock. It positions them carefully over the fingers and the back of the hand to maximize protection in vulnerable areas—though the fact that they’re so performance-oriented means they won’t protect as well as some other options.
Adidas decided to place a leather jampad on the palm to help kids make tackles without fear of pain or injury. Just like with the Techfit, this comb perfectly with an upper layer of Grip Tack, designed to provide excellent grip and improve ball-handling skills. The result is a range of lineman gloves that not only protect kids’ hands, but also allow them a degree of mobility and grip that just wasn’t available in the old, bulky models designed for kids.
There are also some small but significant differences. Instead of being made of mesh, the material on the back of the glove is compression lycra. This gives the glove a really close fit, perfect for kids who prefer a snug fit.
Adidas specifically designed these gloves for childrens’ hands, giving them a world-class fit across a wide range of common hand shapes.
The Ultimate Buyers’ Guide to Football Gloves
So, now you know all about the important features, why they matter and who our top picks are! It’s time to put it all together and pick the pair of football gloves that perfectly suit your needs.
What Type of Football Gloves Should Each Position Wear?
The most important thing to do is choose a pair of football gloves that is well-suited to your position. Even Tom Brady would struggle to throw a tight spiral while wearing bulky gloves, and even the strongest lineman would injure his hands with lightweight receiver gloves, so here are some tips to help you narrow your options down based on your position.
It’s becoming increasingly common for quarterbacks to wear gloves. If it’s good enough for Peyton Manning, there’s got to be something to it. In most cases, we’d recommend you go for a receiver glove. Added protection is nice, but it’s vital that you have the best ball control possible. If you feel like a hybrid is needed to give you confidence, stick to something light like the Cutters Gamer Padded Gloves.
Running backs have a pretty hard time when it comes to gloves. They have to put up with some hefty tackles but it’s also vital that they have control of the ball when it comes to them. Every running back that’s fumbled and watched the opposition score off their mistake will tell you it’s the worst feeling in the world.
For that reason you’ll want something hefty with good tackiness in the fingers and the thumb. A reciever glove like the Nike Vapor Jet 5.0 would be the best bet, but any hybird will work well if you want a little more protection.
Traditionally you’d be expected to pick up a receiver glove. Not exactly rocket science: receivers buy receiver’s gloves, right? Well, not always. A growing number of wide receivers are favoring slimline hybrids.
A hybrid offers them that great tackiness and responsive grip that’s highly prized among wide receivers. Where it differs is that it adds some weight in return for much better protection. When your hands are always a target for the defense, this trade-off can be well worth it, but it really is a personal preference.
Prefer a light, breezy feel? Go for receiver gloves like the Nike Vapor Jet 5.0. Tired of getting your hands smashed every game? Opt for hybrids.
Defensive backs are much like wide receivers. Most people see how important it is for them to handle the ball and prioritize the tackiness of receiver gloves immediately.
However, defensive backs are one of the positions that most benefit from the use of hybrid gloves like the Under Armour Men’s Fierce VI. They’ll protect you from numerous scrapes, breaks and cuts, whilst not compromising your ability to make a clutch interception.
In case you’re a lineman tempted by the heavier hybrid options, we’d strongly advise against it. It’s just not enough protection and it will put you at more risk of injury and pain. The safest choice is the Adidas Freak Max Lineman Gloves, and the lightest you’ll want to go is the Cutters Force 3.0 Lineman Glove.
For multi-position players and everyone else, we’d strongly recommend a hybrid glove. If you need something more defensive, go for the Under Armour Men’s Fierce VI. If total hand flexibility is more of a priority, go for the Cutters Gamer Padded Gloves.
If you’re frequently playing in rain, you’ll want to pick up a pair that can handle the conditions. There’s nothing worse than trying to make a big catch, only to find that your gloves suddenly aren’t tacky anymore! We’d recommend going for a pair of gloves that use a high-quality, weather-resistant tackiness agent in the palm.
If it’s always hot, the last thing you want is to spend the game with your hand jammed into a sweaty mess of a glove. You’re going to want to prioritize the breathability and lightness only found in a glove made from the right materials. This is especially key for defensive backs and linesmen, as the extra padding is going to make your glove considerably warmer than a receiver’s.
Something like the Under Armour Men’s Fierce VI is a great all-weather hybrid that has the ventilation to handle hot weather while still being built to not get water-logged.
Getting the Perfect Fit
Now you know what style of glove you’re looking for and what features will best suit your typical playing field, onto the obvious question. How big is your hand?
To get your measurements, you’ll need to find the length and circumference of your hand.
Take a measuring tape and measure from the tip of your middle finger to the bottom of your palm. Then, repeat on the other hand.
Take a measuring tape and place it just below your knuckle. Measure all the way round your hand. Then, repeat on the other hand.
You now have the measurements for both of your hands. If they differ, you’re usually better off going with the larger measurement.
A lot of the complaints you’ll see online about sizing generally come from people measuring their hand incorrectly, rather than from manufacturing discrepancies.
Measure your hand twice using the above method, make sure you read the brand’s own sizing guidelines and you’re unlikely to go wrong.
How You Feel
An often overlooked aspect of any gear buying guide is the human element. At the end of the day, we’re providing you with guidance to help you make the pick that you’re most comfortable with.
Ask yourself: how are you going to feel wearing the gloves? If you’re a quarterback, is the complete lack of protection in receiver gloves going to make you hesitate every time you reach for the ball? Then buy the tackiest pair of hybrids you can find and play with confidence.
It might not be optimal on paper, but one of the best parts of football is that it isn’t played on paper. The underdog can beat the giant, the game can tie in the last second and the majority of the time if you feel better, you’ll play better. Just don’t try going gloveless as a lineman or wearing oven mitts as your team’s quarterback!
The biggest consideration to take into account when choosing the perfect pair of gloves is matching the style of glove to your position and play style. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices to a few of the excellent options on the list. Keep both performance and protection in mind, and you’re sure to find a pair of gloves that will have you dominating the gridiron.