You might think you're a glove expert. I might think I'm a glove expert. We're both wrong. Richard Avis is a glove expert. His credentials are too long to list here, but know this: he developed FingerSave for adidas, the Tiempo (now called Premier) and Vapor Grip3 for Nike, and the Umbro 'Webb' platform, among many other true innovations. He worked one-on-one with keepers such as Kasey Keller and Tim Howard. He operates Keeper Glove Insiders, a one-man bible of glove information and reviews. His method for testing gloves is so sound and so scientific that I'm no longer doing glove reviews for public consumption. I just wait to see what he says and treat it as gospel. You will too. Let's let him talk a little bit about what really constitutes "grip" in a glove. Take it away, Richard.
What defines ‘Grip’ to you…?
‘Grip’, tends to be a nebulous term most keepers don’t think much about; you just know what it is, even if it might be tough to explain. You know it when you feel it. Values we assign are interpretive, dependent upon breadth and depth of experience of other foams.
Grip is associated with friction. Friction speaks to how one surface resists the movement of another surface. Seems simple enough, but the relationship between goalkeeper and palm is personal and complex. What we perceive as grip involves many factors beyond friction between ball and foam.
Friction properties (coefficient of friction) are easily measured with the ASTM D1894 protocol. The apparatus can be big $$$, so very few brand HQ’s are equipped, but foam vendors and the bigger glove factories will have at least a Gerry-rigged version. Some of which would make MacGyver wince.
KGI considers ASTM D1894 useful for certain things but dismisses claims about grip if the data is derived from a sled based test. Why? Because sled tests are one dimensional; sled test data does not reflect how foam will perform once cut and sewn into a glove. Why? Because, friction, is not grip.
Foam which measures impressively via the one dimensional sled test cannot be assumed to provide superior grip because grip is a multi-dimensional result of several variables –
psycho-physiology (tactile perception)
fit & form (Glove:Ball Interface)
We each interpret and attach different levels of priority to these variables. What’s most important to you may not be for another. Accordingly, conclusions will vary. Who is correct? Everybody is correct. This speaks directly to the beauty and fascination for how a glove you may consider the best ever, is a glove another keeper would not choose.
In a blind test, you could have ten pair of gloves made with foam from the same bolt, and still see deviation from the mean. This is where experience and knowledge plays in. It’s one thing to know what types of testing must be performed. It is another thing entirely to know how to interpret the data and what to do it. The Keeper Glove Insider has a great experience in the relationships, relevance, and values of these variables; they are accounted for in The KGI’s published ratings for grip.
A big part of relating to a subjective review is understanding the reviewer’s perspective, as compared to yours. It is entirely possible you’re in the same place, but simply manage your descriptions differently.
Another consideration (best left for later) is the fact that foams vary from batch to batch. Brand A’s top foam may have been other-worldly superb on your first two pair and then you get a pair that doesn't kick in until the fourth or fifth wash or wearing. If anyone out there has run into performance differences with the ‘same’ foam, please elaborate. Don’t mention specific brand names or types; just write about your experience by visiting the www.keepergloveinsiders.com forum page.
What defines grip to you?