Why does a goalkeeper wear a helmet?

Is it common for soccer goalkeepers to wear helmets?In sports like field hockey and ice hockey, wearing a helmet is mandatory. In sports like field hockey and ice hockey, wearing a helmet is mandatory. But what about soccer goalkeepers? 

This is why a soccer goalkeeper wears a helmet:
Soccer goalkeepers wear a helmet during the game to reduce the risk of injury to the head. A helmet can also be worn after suffering a (serious) injury to the head in the past. In this case, the helmet is worn as extra protection and to be safe in the goal. 

When you read on, we will provide more information about wearing a helmet during a soccer game. In addition, more is covered in this blog. For example, we explain whether wearing a helmet is mandatory, whether you can head the ball with a helmet and more.

Why does a soccer goalkeeper wear a helmet?

During a soccer game, there are many situations where a goalkeeper's head is at risk. A goalkeeper will always try to keep the ball out of his goal. At a set-piece such as an opposing team's corner, he will try to get the ball as quickly as possible. 

This causes the goalkeeper to operate at different heights, so to speak. Wherever the ball ends up, that is where the goalkeeper tries to be. So one moment he may have to jump up where the next he will be on the ground because he has to dive to the corner. 

This makes goalkeeping more dangerous than any other position on the pitch. A helmet protects the goalkeeper from opposing players bodyparts hitting the head of the keeper, or in some cases, from fellow players.

For example, when a goalkeeper wants to get to the ball just before the opponent, he can choose to dive forward. If the opponent makes a misjudgment, it may just happen that he does not hit the ball but the goalkeeper's head. In this case, wearing a helmet is not an unnecessary luxury. 

Of course, you can easily imagine the other situations in which a goalkeeper's head is at risk. Further on in this blog you will see two examples of dangerous situations in which two professional goalkeepers suffered serious head injuries.

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Is wearing a helmet mandatory for soccer goalkeepers?

Wearing a helmet during a soccer game is not mandatory. Therefore, you see very few goalkeepers wearing one.

Often a helmet is only worn after a goalkeeper has suffered a (serious) injury to the head. Had the goalkeeper worn a helmet before the injury, the seriousness of the injury would probably have been a lot less. 

Well-known professional soccer players who wore helmets during their soccer careers were Peter Čech and Ederson Moraes. Peter Čech never played without any helmet after his injury sustained in 2006. Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson only wore the helmet temporarily. 

Do field players wear helmets?

The vast majority of soccer players do not wear helmets during the game. However, players who are in other positions besides the goalkeeper may also wear helmets. 

Many times it is worn for a certain amount of time. It is worn after the player in question has suffered an injury. Wearing the helmet allows them to get back on the field faster. Especially in professional soccer, it is important for good players to be back on the field as soon as possible. They simply cannot be missed for long.

However, a professional soccer player will never be sent onto the field too early. The medical staff decides with a doctor when a soccer player can play again. Especially with head injuries, extra care is taken to see if it is responsible to let the player play.

Soccer players are also sometimes seen wearing protective masks. You can read more about this in our blog Why does a soccer player wear a mask?

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Can you head the ball when wearing a helmet?

When a field player or goalkeeper wears a helmet, he can still simply head the ball. The helmet is designed in such a way that the soccer player can aim the ball normally. The helmet ends with a small curve, just like the shape of your forehead. 

For professional players, the helmet is often custom made. It is important that it fits perfectly during a soccer match so that it does not bother the players. 

Because a lot of balls are kicked and a lot of head fights take place during matches, it is extra important that the helmet has the right shape and fits perfectly. 

Famous soccer goalkeepers who wear helmets

Perhaps you ended up on this blog because you saw a goalkeeper wearing a helmet during a professional soccer game on television. Below are some famous goalkeepers who have worn helmets.

Peter Čech
Many people probably don't even recognize the Czech goalkeeper without the helmet. He wore the helmet from 2006 until the end of his professional career. In 2006, he suffered a serious skull fracture during a game against Reading. 

The injury he sustained in the process turned out to be permanent. Should a similar situation arise, he could suffer even more serious injuries. He was therefore advised to wear the helmet for the rest of his career. Petr Čech complied and now even advocates that every goalkeeper should wear a helmet.

Ederson Moraes
In 2017, the Brazilian goalkeeper who currently plays for Manchester City wore a helmet. He wore it after he received a knee in the face from opponent Saido Mane against Liverpool. Ederson sustained an injury in the process and had 8 stitches in his face. He was given oxygen for 8 minutes just to be on the safe side after being carried off the field on a stretcher. Ederson decided not to continue wearing the helmet after his recovery. 


Je weet nu waarom een keeper een helm kan dragen. Veelal wordt deze dus pas opgezet nadat een keeper een (ernstige) blessure heeft opgelopen. 

Keepers usually do not wear the helmet because they think it hinders their play. However, due to the design and weight of the helmet, this is not the case.  

Are you curious about more blogs on soccer safety? Click here for an overview of all blogs on this topic. 

January 21, 2023
Published: January 21, 2023