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Unveiling Football’s Equipment Hacks: From Vaseline Gloves to Swiss Cheese Socks

Andre Onana at Man Utd
© Ace Football

In the high-stakes world of professional football, players and goalkeepers alike are constantly seeking innovative ways to gain an edge on the pitch.

From applying Vaseline to gloves for enhanced grip to cutting holes in socks for improved comfort, these equipment hacks reveal the lengths to which footballers go to optimize their performance.

Vaseline Gloves and Other Goalkeeping Secrets

During the recent Premier League clash between Manchester United and Liverpool, fans were intrigued by a peculiar sight involving André Onana, the Manchester United goalkeeper. Onana was seen applying Vaseline generously to his gloves during a break in play. While many spectators were puzzled by this act, former United goalkeeper Mark Bosnich shed light on the matter, suggesting that the Vaseline could aid grip, particularly in wet conditions.

The use of Vaseline on gloves is not uncommon among goalkeepers seeking to enhance their grip on the ball. This practice, along with other tricks like glove glue, reflects the constant quest for marginal gains in professional football. Some prominent goalkeepers, including Shay Given and Ben Foster, have admitted to using Vaseline on their gloves to improve grip in challenging weather conditions.

Swiss Cheese Socks: The Secret Behind Player Comfort

Another equipment hack gaining attention in recent years is the trend of players cutting holes in their socks. This practice, popularized by Manchester City’s Kyle Walker, aims to alleviate pressure on the calves and reduce the risk of cramps and spasms during matches. Players have also been known to customize their socks further by removing the foot section entirely and wearing their own choice of grippy crew socks underneath.

Jack Grealish of Manchester City takes this customization a step further by rolling his long socks down and opting for the smallest shin pads possible to minimize strain on his calf muscles.

Baby Oil and Kinesiology Tape: Innovations in Player Performance

Adama Traoré made headlines when he was spotted applying baby oil to his arms before entering the pitch. This unconventional strategy was later revealed to be a preventive measure against defenders grabbing him during sprints. The slick surface created by the baby oil made it difficult for opponents to maintain a grip on Traoré, enhancing his speed and agility.

Kinesiology tape, once a common sight on footballers’ bodies, has seen a decline in usage in recent years. This adhesive physio tape was used to reduce stress on specific muscle groups, with notable exponents including Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo. However, its popularity seems to have waned in favor of other equipment hacks.

Nasal Strips, VapoRub, and ‘War Paint’: Relics of Football’s Past

In the past, footballers experimented with various methods to improve breathing and enhance performance during games. Nasal strips, worn by players like Robbie Fowler, were believed to open airways and improve aerobic capacity. Additionally, players like Patrick Vieira applied mentholated balms like Vicks VapoRub to their chests to maximize airflow.

One of the most iconic equipment hacks belonged to former goalkeeper Rüştü Reçber, who adopted the use of “war paint” beneath his eyes. Inspired by the NFL, this face paint was believed to reduce glare from floodlights and improve vision during matches.


These ingenious strategies, whether rooted in science or superstition, highlight the lengths players will go to in pursuit of peak performance. As the game evolves, so too will the tactics and innovations used by players to gain that crucial advantage.