Now, don’t think I’m going to roll over for all of today’s lacrosse equipment: I haven’t got to pads yet. BUT … my new Reebok 7Ks are incredibly better than my trusty old Brines! (Yes, that’s italic and an exclamation point in that last sentence.) I mean, big-time better.
The old gloves I played goalie with back in the day have real class to them, don’t get me wrong. It’s hard not to warm up to the “W.H. Brine, Boston” labels and the “Steerhide” branded on the cuff under the thumb. They’ve got patina out the ying-yang. They scream “museum piece.” That said, every guy on the team had the same gloves: they didn’t make a separate goalie glove to my knowledge (your chance to write in if I’m wrong). But that’s OK, they worked fine all the years I wore them.
I got my new 7Ks from an online company, which shall go unnamed (I’m waiting for my bribe) for $85, shipping included. Why the Reebok 7Ks and not another pair of no doubt fine goalie gloves from another manufacturer? Not knowing **** about which gloves are on the market and what their virtues are, I picked through what forums I could find online. Mostly it was “I like these” and “those suck.” Finally, though, a goalie from North Carolina, a young guy with a real weltschmerz-ie, misunderstood-poet vibe, had something intelligent to say. THALAX listed a bunch of gloves and compared them, and explained why he chose Reeboks, which was very helpful (and thanks). I went with the 7Ks.
The difference in the two sets of gloves as night-and-day. I mean, just look at them in the pic. But moving past appearances, the improvement in the Reebok glove over the old Brine is intense.
Picking up the new gloves, your first impression is how light they are by comparison. Pulling out my scale, a 7K weighs about 8.2 ounces, and the Brine about 10.8. Slipping on the 7Ks, it is striking how well they fit out of the box … like a glove, you might say. The Reebok touts online say they’re game ready, and they’re not blowing steam. In the same way as my motorcycle gloves, they’ve been cut to the natural curve of the fingers. The padding doesn’t impair mobility. Not only can you easily touch the tips for your fingers to your palms wearing the 7Ks, you can press hard; even broken in with four years of wear, it’s still a strain with the old Brines to touch your fingers to your palm.
I ran a completely unscientific test to compare the gloves’ protection — to whit, wearing the left glove of each pair on my left hand in succession, I whacked them each across the knuckles with a stick held in my right. Fairly close, but the edge went to the new Reeboks. The padding in the old Brines is quite uniform, while the 7Ks have a more layered approach, with what seems to be a foam core covered with a hard shell. It’s better. Last and most important, my old Brines were the same gloves as everyone on the team wore, they weren’t specifically designed for keepers. The Reeboks feature a thumb cap and extra stiff plating over the pads over the knuckle of the thumb and the sensitive tissue between the thumb and palm. It’s great protection, and it doesn’t limit mobility, in my opinion.
Gripping a shaft is excellent with the Reeboks; the old leather gloves are no competition for the extremely thin material used in the palm. On a metal shaft, the “Gryptonite” patches that the 7K is noted for feel just right. On a wooden shaft, however, which has an almost perfect ratio of slickness/resistance, the little green patches squeak as you slide a glove along it. Not a deal breaker by any means, more a minor annoyance.
The future. All in all, it seems to me that glove design has come about as far as could be expected updating the old pattern. But where could glove design go? For a creative designer, there is plenty of room to re-imagine protection for a lacrosse player’s hands. Note I didn’t use the word “gloves” in the last sentence. There is no good reason that tomorrow’s hand protection could not be the “glove portion” of a armor system that blends the arm pads and gloves. No more protection gap allowing nasty work on the forearms by unscrupulous defenders. Then, too, we are living in a miracle age of materials and microelectronics. The thinking in today’s gloves is equivalent to the old thinking in the military’s tanks. Rather than making tank armor plating thicker and thicker as new threats emerge, designers have developed “reactive armor,” which explodes back on a projectile, blunting its penetration. Imagine padding that thickened and stiffened against a blow. Already there has been progress in viscoeleastic armor for motorcycle wear …
But we’ll save that for the next post.
Frozen in a freak accident called life, Mark Bocek was only recently thawed. Upon his resuscitation, he discovered that the game of lacrosse had changed in a multitude of ways. Back when men were men and sticks were made from trees, Bocek was a four-year starter in goal for Bishop Dagwell Hall, now Oregon Episcopal School. Back in the swing, Mark coaches goal and D for North Seattle Lacrosse. He writes a blog, “The Gut Wall,” which appears on his own site, gutwall.com, and can also be seen at Emerald Lax. In the big picture, Bocek is a partner at Dreamhand Design Studios, a firm specializing web and print design and implementation.