What to Look For
Grip is the most important attribute of lineman gloves for a center. The center is the first player to handle the football, and the entire team depends on him to control the ball properly. A center must also block and strike opposing players with his hands. So he needs lightweight gloves that offer protection, flexibility, durability and outstanding grip. Centers should not use full-fingered gloves because they diminish grip. Half-finger football gloves enhance the center's ability to grip the ball. Reebok, Nike, Neumann and Cutters products offer the best combination of these attributes.
Large, gaudy gloves offer the best protection but are unnecessary for the center position. Bulky gloves with a lot of padding become waterlogged and heavy during a game. This slows hand speed, which is very important for a center because the nose tackle is only inches away. Bulky gloves also decrease flexibility in the fingers, so grabbing opposing players becomes difficult. Later in the season, these gloves become very stiff and more troublesome than beneficial. The cheapest gloves have less padding, which enhances flexibility, but their grip, durability and protection are inadequate.
Where to Buy
Most sporting goods stores have football gloves in stock. Dick's Sporting Goods, Sports Authority and online retailers are your best choices. They all offer half-finger lineman gloves at the same base prices.
Half-finger lineman gloves ranged in price from $15 to $75 as of 2010. Brand names, new padding technology and heavy materials increase the base price. Reebok and Nike design half-finger lineman gloves with lightweight materials that provide sufficient protection with increased grip and dexterity. These models ranged from $30 to $40. Neumann and Cutters gloves feature thicker materials to increase durability and tend to be more expensive.
The cheapest lineman gloves are light and flexible, but have insufficient padding and protection. The most expensive gloves are the most protective and durable on the market, but are heavy and inflexible. The Nike D-Tack and Reebok's Smash designs are light in weight and provide adequate protection and grip. The Cutters Reinforcer and Neumann Performer are more expensive, but are more protective and durable. You will not have to replace Cutters or Neumann gloves as often.
Using tape with your gloves increases their durability and effectiveness. Taping your thumbs and wrists adds support and protection to your hands when you strike, block and hold the opposition. Taping under and over your gloves are both beneficial for your hands. However, taping over your gloves also lends some protection to the gloves. Ask your athletic trainer for some tape. It can also be found at sporting goods stores and some pharmacies for $1.50 per 5 yards.
As a center, your primary tools are your hands. Gloves are your hands' first defense against injury. They protect you from serious cuts, bruises and fingernail damage. It is important to take care of your gloves. Wash them only after games to avoid wearing out the material. Never dry your gloves in the dryer; the heat will dry out the leather too quickly. Hang up your gloves and let them air-dry. Rubbing hand lotion into stiff gloves is the best way to loosen them up.