Do Youth Soccer Goalies Wear Cups?

Parents want to keep their children safe. It is no different when it comes to extracurricular sports. In soccer, goalie moms and dads may wonder: do youth soccer goalies wear cups?

Some youth soccer goalies wear cups, and some choose not to. Parents and young athletes must consider their movement, comfort, hygiene, and convenience when deciding on protective gear such as an athletic cup. When a goalie wears a cup, they must choose the right one.

If you are wondering why and how to choose an athletic cup for your youth soccer player, read on. We’ll cover how to choose the right cup and what medical experts have to say on the topic.

Many Soccer Goalies Wear Cups

A protective cup is a hard shell, usually made of lightweight plastic with a steel shield or dense foam. It is worn inside a jockstrap or compression shorts to protect the groin area during sports or other activities where trauma to the genitals could occur. Soccer is a contact sport where injury is a real possibility for young players.

Generally, only boys wear cups. Young female athletes wear pelvic protectors that serve the same purpose.

Many soccer players do not wear protective gear under their clothing, and they have their reasons. However, when it comes to youth players, protective equipment is crucial. Young athletes are at greater risk of injury because their bodies are still growing and developing. Injuries can cause long-term damage or lasting effects. 

Here are a few considerations.

Movement Considerations

In soccer, the goalie must maneuver quickly and move into different positions as they protect the goal. Agility is key. A protective cup could slow them down or restrict their movement.

For younger players, ages five to ten, learning the game, this is not a significant consideration. Teens who have grasped the game and play competitively are more likely to dislike a cup that interferes with their movement.

Comfort Preferences

Some players find it uncomfortable to wear a cup. The shape, material, or even the cup placement could be bothersome, especially to younger children. Cups cover sensitive areas. A cup must be comfortable enough that a young soccer goalie will not get distracted from the game

Hygiene Requirements

Athletic cups trap sweat and odor. Moreover, they rub against the skin, which can cause irritation or chafing. Young goalies and parents choosing a cup for protection must be careful to clean their gear and garments frequently

Jock itch, known as tinea cruris, is a common problem for athletes. This fungal skin infection grows in damp, dark places. Protective cups create ideal conditions for growth. 

Soccer goalies must practice good hygiene to prevent infection or skin breakdown. Players should remove their cups and clean the skin promptly after games

Convenience Preferences

Some players avoid extra protective equipment for convenience’s sake. A cup may be just one more thing to pack, keep up with, and clean later. There’s so much to pack already: 

  • Bags
  • Shin guards 
  • Towels 
  • Water bottles 

Furthermore, it is just one more thing to buy. Youth sports can be costly, and some cut costs where they can. Athletic cups may cost between $12 and $120, depending on the materials and craftsmanship. Parents may interpret “not required” as “unnecessary.” (For a more complete list of soccer equipment, click over to Soccer Equipment Checklist.)

Medical Advice

Urologists agree that youth soccer players should wear a cup because of the risk of serious injury if kicked in the groin area. Soccer goalies must protect their team’s goal from the opposing team. The most dangerous possibility for a young goalkeeper not wearing a cup is injury from a swift kick to the groin. 

For boys, a forceful blow could injure one or both testicles. Other possible complications of trauma to the genitals, some of which can be life-threatening, include: 

  • Internal bleeding 
  • Testicular rupture 
  • Torsion  

If your young goalie suffers a kick in the genital region, first aid should include rest and ice packs for 15 mins at a time, three to four times a day for the first week. Compression shorts and over the counter anti-inflammatories like Tylenol or Motrin may help with swelling.

Choosing an Athletic Cup

When you decide that your young soccer goalie needs a cup, you must get the right fit. Protective cups come in different sizes and shapes. 

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Sporting good stores sell sizes corresponding to waist size. Usually, the packaging lists the waist size. But here are the general guidelines: 

Athletic Cup SizeWaist SizeAge
PeeWee/ X-small19-22 in (48-56 cm)5-7 years
Youth / small22-28 in (56-71 cm)8-12 years
Teen28-30 in (71-76 cm)13-17 years
Medium30-36 in (76-91 cm)13-17 years
Large36-46 in (91-117 cm)18+ years

Shapes vary. Choose one that feels comfortable. Stores typically prohibit you from trying them on, but you can place them over clothing to get an idea of how a shape fits. 

The Comfy Cup is pretty basic, while the Diamond Groin Protection System is a little more extensive.

Youth players must wear the cup properly for protection to be effective. The edges must completely cover the genitals. The bottom of the cup should sit one to two inches underneath the testicles. 

The outer edges of most athletic cups are lined with a gel layer to protect sensitive skin. The thicker the lining, the less risk of chafing. Jockstraps and compression garments made to hold an athletic cup will also reduce skin irritation.

Additional Youth Goalie Gear

By now, you may be asking yourself, what else youth soccer goalies need to wear. The goalkeeper is a unique position. This player defends the goal and is the only player that can handle the ball. These responsibilities require special gear that other players may not need.

Since the goalie is the only player that can touch the ball with their hands, they must stand out from other players. Typically, they wear a different color jersey than their teammates.  Some goalies choose a fluorescent color jersey. A bright color catches the eye and distracts running opponents. 


Because the goalie is the only player that can handle the ball with their hands, youth goalies wear protective goalie gloves. The gloves must have a good grip so players can catch a fast-moving ball and throw it back. Gloves are also padded so that they can protect the bones of the hands.


While soccer shorts are generally knee-length, some goalies choose to wear a ¾ length or even full-length pants to protect the legs

A goalie may also need sliding shorts for extra padding and protection at their hips. These compression garments are worn under soccer shorts or pants. Many soccer shorts and pants are made out of patented materials that wick moisture away from the skin and keep players cool.


Some goalies wear headwear. Protective visors block the sun, and helmets protect the head from stray soccer balls. Many are made from foam to absorb impact. Headgear protects the head from concussion type injuries.


Many pads to protect the extremities are available for youth sports. Arm pads and knee pads could help a youth goalie who must jump and slide to block a kick. Some jerseys and pants contain padding, or protective pads can be purchased and worn separately. Like the cup, movement, comfort, and convenience are factors to consider when choosing to pad a young athlete.


In conclusion, now you know why and how to choose an athletic cup for your youth soccer goalie. There are many factors for parents and athletes to consider, from medical opinion to a player’s comfort level. When it comes to youth soccer, you have to balance fun and safety for an ideal experience.

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