Protection For Soccer Goalies: Pads and Equipment

Most casual soccer players and viewers often underrate a goalkeeper. However, once you start watching them, you see just how dangerous their job is.

Not only do they have to fly pretty high to reach the ball, but they are also constantly hitting the ground. So, how do they protect themselves, and do they wear kneepads?

  • Most soccer associations have no rules against goalkeepers using kneepads.
  • However, I have never seen a soccer goalie using kneepads.
  • Kneepads might restrict a goalkeeper’s movements.
  • A soccer goalie uses padded clothing, including around the knee and elbow areas.

Soccer players always find the right balance between protecting themselves while not restricting their movement or ball control.

If you are an aspiring goalie, a soccer player, or are curious, this article will be packed with just about everything you need to know about wearing kneepads and other ways of protecting yourself. So, keep reading.

Soccer goalie saving a ball wearing equipment

Why Soccer Goalies Do Not Use Kneepads

The primary reason soccer goalies do not use knee pads is to restrict their movement and hamper mobility.

The safety values that it offers do not outweigh this restriction. Goalkeepers are not the fastest players on the pitch, but they need to be able to transition as fast as they can.


A soccer goalkeeper needs to backtrack; they need to shift their body weight and make quick adjustments to their position.

Doing all of his would become a bit harder if they had kneepads on. Mobility is critical in soccer, especially when you play at a high level.

Also, kneepads are bulky, which could make a goalkeeper feel heavier than they are. That bulkiness also poses a threat.

The clothes a goalie wears are padded, the grass is relatively soft, but kneepads are kind of hard. So, they might have a negative effect instead of a positive one.

Yes, knee injuries in soccer do occur. However, for goalies, it is not as common as it is with outfield players. See, goalkeepers have their own safety issues to worry about, and we will discuss them further in the article.

Do Soccer Goalies Get Knee Injuries?

Soccer goalies do not typically jump onto their knees. Instead, they land on their shoulders using the arm to absorb the impact.

When they go to the ground to save a low shot, they might drop to their knees, but they have padding on their uniform, so there is no need for knee pads for a goalkeeper.

Soccer goalies can experience knee injuries. However, this does not typically come from their knees making contact with the ground.

Obviously, this can happen in some instances, but it usually does not. Here are a few reasons a goalkeeper might experience in knee injury:

  • Collision with another player.
  • Awkward landings.
  • Sudden changes in angle and direction of the knee.

Common types of knee injuries for soccer goalies:

  • ACL tear (This is common in soccer, for all players)
  • Torn meniscus: This happens when you twist your knee.

As you can see, these types of injuries have less to do with impacting the ground and more to do with twisting the knee or having a player collide and have their knee bent to the point that the ACL will tear.

Soccer Goalie Making a Save

When Should A Goalkeeper Use Kneepads?

If you are playing at a school or casual level, then there are a few times when you might want to wear knee pads.

Also, if you play indoor or street soccer on a hard surface. However, instead of kneepads, a knee brace is the better option. That said, here are a few reasons you might want to wear kneepads or a knee brace:

  • If you have an injury.
  • Your knee might feel sensitive, and you want to take precautions.
  • If a medical professional has advised you to do so.
  • If you play indoor soccer or street soccer and you play on a hard surface.

At a professional level, no player will wear kneepads or knee braces, for that matter. There are no weather conditions or types of surfaces that would warrant this.

Also, if a goalkeeper has any injury and plays at a professional level, they will not wear a knee brace because it puts a target on their back.

Yes, many people think it is sad that a player would target another player’s injury.

Still, when talking about millions of dollars at a professional level, you can’t put anything past anyone. Also, they won’t wear kneepads or braces for the reasons mentioned above in this article regarding bulkiness.

Who Wears Kneepads?

Generally, in soccer, nobody wears knee pads. They are bulky and can weigh a player down. They also put a target on the player’s back.

However, there are certain sports where using your legs and feet to control a soccer ball are not so important. In these sports, players might wear knee pads. These sports include:

  • Basketball
  • Volleyball
  • American Football
  • Tennis
  • Hockey (More likely a knee brace)

What Do Soccer Goalies Wear For Protection?

While every outfield player will have the same equipment, the goalkeeper will have a different color to stand out, and the kit will be slightly different.

You will notice that a keeper wears long uniforms and these kits have padding on them.

The padding is light enough not to restrict the goalkeeper’s movement or make them feel heavier than they should be.

It does this while providing a layer of protection between the goalkeeper and the ground. That said, here is a list of what you can expect a goalkeeper to wear for safety.

  • Gloves
  • Long sleeve jersey with padding:
  • Long pants with padding:
  • Shin guards

Most soccer associations abide by or at least adopt the FIFA standards and guidelines. Obviously, there are times where an association will have to tweak the policies to suit their needs.

It is more often that these associations will add to the rules instead of reducing them.

Most Common Injuries: Soccer Goalies

All soccer players risk picking up pretty much any injury possible. However, the outfield players are more concerned about lower-body injuries to the hamstring, knees, or ankles from the defenders to the strikers.

Soccer goalkeepers are typically more concerned about upper-body injuries.

So, you can consider that to be another reason why they wouldn’t concern themselves with wearing kneepads. They also don’t wear elbow pads, though, just in case you were wondering.

Again, that would restrict movement. Let us take a look at and discuss a few of the most common injuries that affect goalkeepers.

Head Injuries

When a goalkeeper goes to the ground, they risk getting kicked or kneed in the head.

Remember, the goalkeeper has a primary objective to keep the ball out of the net, and they will often put this objective before their own well-being.

Another cause for head injuries is when a goalkeeper collides with another player while jumping in the air.

When you have a solid and fast player charging at you, and you go to the ground to secure the ball, it can be scary. The most common goalkeeper head injuries include:

  • Concussion
  • Bruising
  • Lacerations
  • Fractures (Jaw, skull, or nose fracture)

Elbow And Shoulder Injuries

As tall as goalkeepers usually are, they can’t reach out their arms and stop every shot that comes at them. To get to the top corner to block a shot, keepers will jump in the air.

While they are trained to land safely, mistakes do happen, and they can often land uncomfortably.

A soccer goalie is not going to injure their shoulder or arm by simply blocking a shot. It often happens due to a bad landing or collisions either with their goalposts or another player.

A study that analyzed these types of injuries concluded that goalkeepers are far more likely to be affected by elbow and shoulder injuries than outfield players.

Hand Injuries

Again, a goalkeeper is not necessarily going to hurt themselves by stopping or catching the ball; that is a misconception. Remember, their gloves provide significant protection for their hands.

A hand injury often occurs from player collisions or if a goalkeeper’s hand gets stepped on, which does happen in football, not on purpose in most cases. Still, when the adrenaline is pumping, anything can happen.

Leg And Ankle Injuries

It is not often that a goalkeeper hurts their legs. However, it is not rare to see a goalkeeper hurt their ankles.

See, a goalkeeper spends a significant amount of time tracking backward and adjusting their position at high speed. This can cause ankle injuries such as sprains.

Do Soccer Goalies Wear A Skull Cap?

Most keepers that wear skull caps only do so because medical professionals advise them to do so. The skull cap can make a goalkeeper’s job a little more complicated because it impacts their hearing and overall mobility.

So, while it is rare to see any player with a skull cap if you see a keeper wearing one, they were likely involved in an incident that poses a significant threat to their well-being.

Below is an interesting video by “Oh My Goal” explaining why Petr Cech, a premier league legend, wears a skull cap.

But why does Petr Čech always wear a helmet? – Oh My Goal

Do Soccer Goalies Wear A Cup?

A few high school soccer players might wear a cup at the beginning of their playing days. Still, with years of experience, I have never heard of or seen professional soccer players or amateurs wearing a cup.

Wearing a cup could affect the player’s ability to adjust their body at certain angles. It could also affect the player’s ability to kick the ball accurately.

A cup may not seem like a big deal in sports where you use your arms or hands to handle the ball, but it makes a huge difference in soccer.


Thank you for reading our articles - we hoped you've enjoyed them and are having fun playing, coaching, and watching soccer.

Soccer Blade is an affiliate and an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases - at no extra cost to you.