In the physical world of basketball, accidents can happen, injuries can be contracted, and players can get hit in places that shouldn’t be hit. On top of the list of those areas is your groin area. If you play basketball, you probably have been hit in those areas, and that is one common experience you undeniably share with the players you love to watch.
The groin is a sensitive area that can cause extreme pain when hit. This is why sports such as MMA, American Football, Boxing, and Hockey require their players to wear cups. But do basketball players wear cups? What is the effect of wearing this protective gear? Let’s dive deeper into the topic today.
What are Protective Cups in Sports?
Protective cups or athletic cups were made for one purpose: to protect the groin. For highly physical sports, this is an essential piece of gear that safeguards athletes from injuries and pain caused by blunt hits to the groin area. Protective cups are usually made out of hard plastic to provide ample protection while being light enough for physical movements.
Injuries caused by direct impact to the groin area are not to be taken lightly. Wearing a cup can save an athlete from testicular trauma, groin fractures, and many more injuries that can directly affect the career and future of the athlete. Contact sports such as football, boxing, and hockey are just some of the sports where these injuries are often seen.
Basketball may not be as violently physical as the sports mentioned above, but that doesn’t mean that cups are not essential. In the case of basketball and some other tamer sports like baseball, wearing a cup can provide peace of mind — especially for those with a history of groin injuries.
Do NBA Players Need to Wear Cups?
Technically speaking, NBA players do not need to wear cups. NBA rules do not require the players to wear cups unless it is required by their respective physicians or therapists. This is because even though there is a possibility of getting into collisions and accidents that can hit the groin area, the risk is generally low.
At the end of the day, wearing a cup in the NBA depends on personal preference. A couple of NBA players wear them just in case, while others don’t because it can hamper their mobility. However, it is also worth noting that a lot of players today choose to wear padded compression shorts that offer some protection to the groin area as well — although this is not a 1:1 substitute for a cup.
Comfort is an important thing for professional basketball players in the NBA. A simple cup may not seem too much but it can disrupt their motion or even their mentality. So, even though cups provide a layer of protection against a potential injury, wearing them may not be too worth it for others.
Why Most Basketball Players Do Not Wear Cups
Like any other contact sport where players are required to wear cups, basketball players run, jump, and even dive — so why don’t most basketball players wear it? There are a lot of possible reasons behind this but, at the end of the day, players will prioritize comfort and performance.
First off, most basketball players do not wear cups because of comfort issues. Like any protective gear, you’ll definitely feel something different when wearing a cup — especially because it is a hard object. Much like modern-day helmets, cups have evolved to be a little more comfortable but it’s simply impossible to eliminate the feeling that it is there.
Cups may also limit a player’s range of motion — this is another reason why a lot of professionals prefer not to wear them. More specifically, cups may stop you from fully crossing your leg, which is a handy motion that basketball players can have in their bag, especially when squeezing through defenders.
Even though basketball players get groin injuries, hits to the area are not as common and as detrimental as most people would think. For all these reasons, wearing a cup may not be as worth it for basketball players — especially because the protection that padded compression shorts is sufficient. These shorts offer some degree of protection without the movement restrictions that cups usually cause.
How Common are Groin Injuries in Basketball?
Groin injuries are relatively common in basketball. In the NBA alone, some of the greatest stars have been hampered by this injury at least once or twice. Players such as LeBron James, James Harden, and Chris Paul notoriously skipped significant time because of their respective groin injuries.
Basketball is a physically demanding sport that includes a lot of running, jumping, lateral movement, and change of direction. All of these put a lot of stress on the groin area, so it’s not surprising to see even the best of the best go down with this injury. Non-professional and common ballers such as ourselves are not safe from this injury as well.
However, injuries that are directly addressed by wearing a cup are quite rare in basketball. Outside of a few accidental kicks and elbows, direct hits to the groin area do not happen as much in basketball compared to other sports.
Common groin injuries that basketball players experience are strains or pulled muscles that are usually caused by a sudden change in direction or overextension. Muscle fatigue and lack of stretching may also result in these common groin injuries. Players with a history of groin injuries are also at a higher risk of getting another one — which is the case for many NBA players today.
Alternatives to Wearing Cups for Basketball Players
Although wearing protective cups can be uncomfortable, we cannot downplay the protection they provide. However, we cannot also blame people for thinking that wearing cups during basketball games can be a little overkill. Fortunately, there are alternatives to wearing protective cups that offer a level of protection without the usual drawbacks of solid cups.
Compression shorts are a popular alternative for protective cups. Like cups, compression shorts hold everything in place during gameplay and provide additional support to the groin muscles because of their snug fit. Compression shorts are lightweight and comfortable, plus they allow a full range of leg motion. Meanwhile, padded compression shorts have made their way into basketball as well.
Another alternative to wearing cups is to wear jockstraps. Think of jockstraps as the athletic cousins of protective cups. Jockstraps are usually made out of more flexible materials such as cotton, neoprene, or spandex. Using a jockstrap is great because it provides more protection than compression shorts but is also not as bulky or uncomfortable as protective cups.
Of course, another alternative is to not wear cups at all and simply play with caution. For people who are just playing recreationally and for fun, wearing cups isn’t really necessary.
Wrapping Things Up: Do Basketball Players Wear Cups?
A protective cup or athletic cup is a piece of protective gear that shields the groin area from direct hits and dangerous contact. For intense contact sports such as baseball, football, and boxing, protective cups are more than necessary. However, for sports like basketball, the need for cups is debatable.
Basketball players do not usually wear cups since they can be uncomfortable. Cups can also limit a player’s range of motion, which is why they are unpopular in the sport. Instead of protective cups, basketball players wear compression shorts or even jockstraps — these two provide a good amount of protection without sacrificing range of motion.
At the end of the day, wearing a cup in basketball is not a requirement, but it’s also not prohibited. The important thing is to enjoy the game and play it with care above all else.
We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.