Why Basketball Players Wear Tights: Their Main Benefits

Have you noticed that tights are all the rage these days in basketball? 

Just turn on a basketball game and you’ll see NBA players wearing a plethora of different tights from arm sleeves to compression pants. Tights have become just another essential garment in the basketball player’s uniform.

If you’re newer to the game, you may be wondering why basketball players wear compression garments. In this article, we’ll walk through the benefits basketball players see from wearing tights and the various types of tights that players wear. 

6 Reasons Why Basketball Players Wear Tights

Basketball players wear tights for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the main ones:

1. Decrease Muscle Soreness

Basketball players wear tights to help decrease muscle soreness. Have you ever noticed how your muscles often get painfully sore after an intense workout or basketball game? This severe soreness can lead to poor performance in your next game.

This is because any type of vigorous exercise causes little micro-tears in the muscles. Physicians refer to this condition as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Wearing tights has been proven to reduce muscle soreness in athletes by reducing muscle oscillation.

2. Keeps the Muscles Warmer

Between timeouts, player substitutions, and halftime, there are lots of play stoppages during a basketball game. This makes the muscles more likely to tighten up and get cold. Cold muscles can often hinder athletic performance.

Basketball players wear compression tights to keep their muscles warmer throughout the game. This is a huge benefit because it makes the players less likely to suffer a muscle strain. Severe muscle strains can cause a basketball player to miss several games, so preventing them is key.

3. Sweat Absorption

Basketball is an intense game and it causes all players to sweat profusely on the court. Being drenched in sweat can be uncomfortable and weigh a player down. This can limit the player’s performance on the court.

Compression gear helps wick away sweat from the player’s body. The material, which is usually a blend of nylon and polyester, also helps dry the sweat quickly. This keeps the player feeling cool and confident.

4. Protection from Hard Falls

Regardless of what some people may think, basketball is a full-contact sport and it can cause lots of bumps and bruises. This is especially true when it comes to hard falls, where basketball players are susceptible to impact injuries.

Compression gear can help add a barrier of protection when a player hits the floor from a hard foul. The extra padding from the tights can help guard sensitive body parts like the knees, hips, and elbows. This explains why some basketball players even opt to wear full-length tights.

5. Prevent Blood Clots

Another reason basketball players wear compression tights is to prevent blood clots. As crazy as it sounds, blood clots can happen to anyone, even highly skilled athletes who are in phenomenal physical condition. Wearing compression gear can help improve blood circulation and provide maximum blood flow.

One scary blood clotting condition is called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). With DVT, a blood clot forms in the veins of either the calves or thighs and causes a ton of swelling and pain. Several studies have shown that wearing compression tights can help prevent DVT.

6. Better Performance on the Court

Let’s face it, this is the main reason that basketball players wear tights. They want to perform at a higher level on the court, and wearing compression gear can help them achieve this goal.

Tons of studies have shown that wearing different types of compression tights increases athletic performance. That is why tights have risen in popularity over the years in the game of basketball.

Different Types of Tights Basketball Players Wear

Arm Sleeves

A lot of basketball players wear arm sleeves, especially on their dominant shooting arm. This helps keep the arm warm and improves circulation. Other players wear an arm sleeve as a fashion statement. 

Former superstar guard Allen Iverson had a bad case of bursitis in his right elbow during the 2000-01 NBA season. To combat this painful condition, Iverson started wearing an arm sleeve. Soon after this, more players and even fans started to wear arm sleeves just to emulate “The Answer”.

Leg Sleeves

Lots of basketball players like to wear leg sleeves that stretch from their lower thighs down to their calves. The compression helps stimulate blood flow in the legs, which can help prevent the player from getting pulled calf, quadricep, or hamstring muscles. Preventing muscle pulls is always a good thing for basketball players.

Leg sleeves can also help protect against floor burns when players are diving for a loose ball. To get the right size leg sleeve, players must measure their ankle, knee, and calf. They must also decide if they want padded or unpadded sleeves.

Compression Shorts

Have you ever tried to play basketball in boxers or even briefs? Needless to say, it is super uncomfortable and there’s just not enough support. For that reason, most basketball players wear compression shorts underneath their basketball shorts. 

Compression shorts act like a second pair of underwear that helps to hold everything in place. The last thing a player needs is for everything down low to be bouncing around during games or practices. Compression shorts can also help prevent muscle strains in the glute and upper hamstring areas.

Full Leg Tights

These aren’t as prevalent as arm or leg sleeves, but some players in the NBA choose to wear full leg tights. This type of compression tights goes from the player’s waist to just below his calf muscles.

Why do some basketball players choose to wear full tights? Some players believe that the full length leg tights give them extra joint support for their hips and knees. Others like the fact that full tights help prevent floor burns and abrasions.

Compression Shirt

Some players prefer to wear a compression shirt underneath their mesh basketball uniform. One of the most famous NBA players that constantly wears a compression shirt is Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers. Davis has been doing this since he was a young phenom at the University of Kentucky.

A lot of folks prefer to wear a compression shirt because the mesh material of the basketball jersey feels kind of rough when pressed directly to the skin. This can lead to some skin irritation problems. Compression shirts also help regulate body temperature, which helps keep the player cooler.

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Mike Noblin

Mike has been involved with basketball for over 30 years as a player, coach, and bettor. He has a degree in Sports Psychology and enjoys following both the NBA and College Basketball on a nightly basis.