Why Do Basketball Players Wear Tights? Your Answers Here

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Have you ever wondered why do basketball players wear tights? 

Well, if you play basketball, you can agree that taking care of your legs is quite essential. We are also confident you can agree that leg injuries are quite frequent. Because our legs play such an important role in our on-court activities as basketball players, it is quite devastating whenever we incur leg injuries or discomfort in our legs.

This article will be reviewing a product that will help us prevent injuries in our legs while enhancing our comfort levels when we play. This product can also help to elevate our performance on the court and, afterward, help our legs to recover.

You may have guessed by now: today we’re talking about basketball tights.

Why Do Basketball Players Wear Tights Why Do Basketball Players Wear Tights?

Compression tights are becoming increasingly popular in the world of sports. Many athletes are realizing the benefits of wearing compression tights or leggings while playing sports, and as a result, their use is increasing.

So what are compression tights? Compression tights are skin-tight pants that compress the leg muscles of the wearer.

So, why do basketball players wear tights? Basketball players wear compression tights for a large variety of reasons. These reasons range from aesthetics to more serious ones, such as injury prevention.

Basketball tights are used by basketball players to: 

  • Help reduce muscle fatigue 
  • Prevent or minimize skin injuries
  • Prevent muscle strains
  • Provide better oxygenation to their muscles
  • Retain their body heat, thus keeping their muscles warm
  • Improve their recovery after games and practices
  • Increase overall comfort levels of their groin areas while playing
  • Manage sweat
  • Keep up with fashion trends on the court

Given the demands of the game that we all love, in addition to all the reasons mentioned above, some basketball players wear compression tights with additional padding in specific areas such as the knees, hips and thighs as this helps to protect them when they come into contact with other players or dive for loose balls in hustle plays.

What's The History of Hoops Players Wearing Tights

What’s The History of Hoops Players Wearing Tights?

Why do basketball players wear leggings under shorts? To answer this question, we need to go back, way back. This trend off compression pants being worn in the NBA became quite popular in the mid-2000s when we saw Superstars rocking the look.

Before the mid-2000s, not many basketball players were wearing compression garments, however, Hakeem Olajuwon wore a full-length sleeve on his leg in the 1989- 1990 NBA season. The team trainers cited excessive blood clotting in his calf as the reason why he had to wear the compression sleeve.

Some notable stars in the mid-2000s that wore compression pants were Vince Carter, Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. These are just a few of the players that were wearing compression tights at that time.

The all-time great Kobe Bryant started wearing tights in 2005. Kobe said he used the compression tights to keep his legs warm. Warmer muscles in basketball will allow for faster reaction times, increase muscle flexibility and prepare our bodies for quick and explosive movements. 

What's The History of Hoops Players Wearing Tights

If wearing tights allowed Kobe Bryant to maintain the temperature of his muscles throughout the entirety of games, then this certainly is a product that most basketball players can benefit from.

In 2005, power forward Joe Smith of the Milwaukee Bucks said his reason for wearing the compression leggings was because of his then-recent arthroscopic knee surgery. Joe was suffering from pain in his left knee and decided to do surgery to remedy the issue. After his surgery, Joe decided to wear tights to keep his knees warm.

He believed that if his knees weren’t kept at a certain temperature, they would swell up and get re-injured. Smith believed so much in the benefits of compression tights that he convinced most of his Milwaukee teammates (Michael Redd, Mo Williams, Toni Kukoc and Andrew Bogut) to start wearing them. Bogut stated that even though he didn’t like the look of compression tights, he was okay with wearing them as his priority wasn’t how he looked.

Dallas Maverick’s shooting guard Jerry Stackhouse can be remembered as one of the pioneering players to don the leggings look. Jerry struggled with a nagging groin injury that he used the tights to battle. In Jerry’s opinion, warmer muscles meant fewer injuries.

Dwayne Wade was another superstar that started to wear tights in the mid-2000s.

Since the beginning of the trend, a lot has changed. The NBA commissioner made a move to ban the use of leggings starting at the beginning of the 2006-2007 NBA season, but in today’s NBA, over 80% of all NBA stars are wearing them. 

When the trend started, the look wasn’t so acceptable. Fans, executives and even some players mocked and turned their noses up at the compression garment. The tights themselves have since evolved. At their inception, they were merely the same as spandex running tights, but now they are available in a large variety of styles, materials and technology. 

What Materials are Basketball Tights Made Of

What Materials are Basketball Tights Made Of?

Today many companies produce basketball compression tights. Some companies use different materials, while others use different combinations of the same. Basketball tights are usually made from a combination of light, breathable materials. These materials include polyester, elastane, nylon and chinlon. 

These ultra-soft materials are proven to be extremely comfortable and are, in most cases, non-restrictive to the players that wear them. 

Do Tights Help in Basketball

Do Tights Help in Basketball?

This is a critical question that we need to answer, “Do tights help in basketball?” Is this garment more than just a fashion accessory? Can compression tights aid in a player’s overall performance and/or recovery? Why do basketball players wear tights? Our first knowledge of this garment was one worn by Hakeem Olajuwon in the 1980s. 

Why did Hakeem need to wear a sleeve covering is entire leg in that NBA season? Hakeem Olajuwon’s reason for wearing the compression garment was in no way based on fashion, but purely medical-based as his condition (excessive blood clotting in his calf) needed remediation.

When we play basketball, we use our leg muscles extensively and even more so if we are playing in leagues that require us to train and play games multiple times each week. It has been proven that compression tights can reduce the wear and tear these activities have on our muscles. 

Do Tights Help in Basketball

If we overwork our muscles on the basketball court, it is quite likely that we can strain them. A muscle strain or a pulled muscle is caused by an overstretched or torn muscle, which is as a result of our muscles being overused or fatigued. Using compression tights while playing basketball can prevent our muscles from being overstretched or torn, which in turn will protect our muscles from being strained. So, yes, wearing leggings while we play can help us in this regard.

Compression tights are known to reduce the vibration in our skeletal muscles, and the reduction of this vibration means our muscles go through less trauma and as a result, this means less fatigue or soreness in our muscles. For persons who play this wonderful game, you can attest to going home from the court after the adrenaline wears off and feeling as if you have just been run over by a small car, especially if you were involved in a very physical game. This feeling caused by fatigue and soreness in muscles can be reduced or prevented by wearing compression leggings. 

If you are the type of player whose mantra is “win at all cost”, then you are oh so familiar with skin injuries such as cuts, scratches, skin irritations and abrasions due to you falling onto the surface of the court throughout the game while you hustle. Compression garments under your shorts provide an extra layer of protection for your skin whenever you are involved in plays like these. Some compression tights are also outfitted with pads to protect your knees, your thighs and your hips. You can believe us when we say these are very important. The padded compression tights do not only absorb a lot of the shock when you fall to the floor or collide with other players, but they also protect your skin and reduces the risk of infections and other exterior damage to your biggest organ. 

As humans, we cannot survive without oxygen. Oxygen plays a significant role in the efficient operation of our muscles. So, what is the connection between compression pants and oxygen? Well, let’s take a look. Our muscles require fuel. In our bodies, the fuel used by our muscles is called adenosine triphosphate or ATP. 

You may be asking, “where does adenosine triphosphate come from?” When we play basketball, any oxygen that gets to our muscles converts the glucose that is available into ATP. This is the process by which our muscles are fueled. When we exercise, we naturally breathe heavier and our heart works more in order for us to intake more oxygen. This, in turn, goes into our bloodstreams. 

Now here is where the compression tights come into play. Compression tights help with the blood flow in our muscles. The blood supply to our muscles is increased when we wear compression tights, so this allows for our muscles to get more oxygen. As we discussed before, the oxygen helps to provide more adenosine triphosphate AKA muscle fuel for us to be our best when we play.

If we wear leggings while playing basketball, here is another vital function that they perform as it relates to the temperature of our legs. Warm muscles are responsible for that quick reaction time that some players possess while on the court. 

The majority of players warm up before games and also before they come off the bench. The reason why this is done is our bodies react faster and more explosive when our muscles are warm, but that temperature in or legs do not stay constant throughout the lengthy time frame of games. 

The majority of players warm up before games

This is another major reason why NBA players and other pro basketball athletes wear compression pants. Compression pants will help to keep our legs warm and allow us to maintain the level of performance provided by warmer muscles. You never know, this may just be the edge you need over your opponent. 

Comfort is very important to athletes, and basketballers are no exception. Your comfort level when you play can sometimes affect your performance on the court. Compression tights are known for keeping our groin area and thighs comfortable and chafe-free. Because of the form-fitting nature of compression tights, everything is held in place, muscles and more. This is one less thing to worry about while on the court.

We are sure that you have been waiting to hear about this next benefit as it undoubtedly relates to every player on the planet. Even if you do not produce a lot of points, rebounds or assist on the court, there is one thing that you are guaranteed to produce while playing, sweat. 

Sweat is the common denominator in every basketball equation. Compression leggings are designed with sweat-wicking material that keeps us dryer while playing. The material used to construct these tights have significantly evolved since their inception, and manufacturers have since utilized breathable fabrics to allow us to maintain a comfortable level of dryness on the court.

Now that we have covered the benefits that compression garments provide while we play, let’s now take a look at the benefits that compression tights have for our post-game legs. We play hard and we need to recover after each session. A lot of pro ballers make use of compression tights to aid in the recovery of their leg muscles. An added benefit of the increased blood flow that compression tights provide for your muscles is the faster recovery time.

So now that we have all the information necessary to provide an answer to the question, “Do tights help in basketball?” What do you think?

Who are some Popular NBA Players Who Have Worn Tights

Who are some Popular NBA Players Who Have Worn Tights?

This question is quite easy to answer because the reality is that these simple but effective garments have caught the attention of the majority of the basketball world. If you were to put all the major basketball stars in a line and play eenie meenie miney moe, it is more likely that you will point at a player wearing tights than one that isn’t. 

If you were to think of a famous player that you know and love in today’s NBA, it’s almost a guarantee that that player has worn or is currently wearing compression tights. Let’s put it into perspective, the ten starters of the 2020 NBA All-Star game (LBJ, Luka, Harden, Klaw, AD, Giannis, Ice Trae, Kemba, Siakam and Embiid) all are currently wearing or have worn compression tights in the past. The two most notable injured players that didn’t make the cut, Curry and KD, also wear compression tights when they play. 

Who are some Popular NBA Players Who Have Worn Tights

Where Can You Buy Basketball Tights

Where Can You Buy Basketball Tights?

Compression tights are next to a necessity in today’s game for pro athletes, and because of this, the availability of these items has significantly increased for the average player to purchase. We can guarantee that if you walk into any brick and mortar sporting goods store that sells basketball gear, it is above a 90% chance that you can step back out with a pair of compression tights, well unless they run out of stock right before you get there. 

There are multiple major companies that produce compression tights and there is even a greater number of smaller companies that do this as well. These items are then made available for sale on the websites of these companies or on other online marketplaces that sell sportswear, among other things. 

You can check international online sites such as AliExpress, Amazon and eBay for a wide variety of available compression tights. Your shopping choices are in no way limited to these websites. Feel free to do a thorough online search for other available stores before making your purchase.

Here are three of the most popular basketball tights available:

NIKE Men's Base Layer Training Tights, White/Matte Silver/White/Black, Small
  • TIGHT FIT WITH ZERO DISTRACTIONS: The Nike body-hugging tights let you train undistracted with a compressive feel and optimal mobility.
  • DRI-FIT TECHNOLOGY: These men's compression pants are made of Dri-FIT material that wicks sweat away to help keep you cool when the action heats up.
  • FLAT SEAMS: These leggings for men are designed with flat seams that feel smooth against the skin. Flat seams help reduce irritation caused by chafing.
DRSKIN 1~3 Pack Men’s 3/4 Compression Tight Pants Base Under Layer Running Shorts Cool Dry (BB807, M)
  • We sell packs of one, two, or three pants), which all have separate prices. The image shows the quantity of pants. Images with one piece of clothing refers to one item. Likewise, images with two and three pieces of clothing refer to two and three items, respectively.
  • 92% Polyester, 8% Spandex - Smooth and Ultra-Soft Fabric that provides extreme comfort with very little weight without restriction
  • Designed for all seasons(training, baseball, basketball, soccer, American football, NFL, Squat, weight training, cycle, surfing, yoga, all weather sports)
Defender Men's Sports Compression Pants Under Jerseys Tights Shorts Fits Basketball WH_M
  • Polyester 92%, Spandex 8% - Smooth and Ultra-Soft Fabric that provides extreme comfort with very little weight without restriction - Machine Washable.
  • Medium = Long Pants (Waist 32 ~ 33 inch / Length 34 ~ 34.5 inch)
  • Workout or Compete for all weather sports and activities - Cool in Summer and heat retention in winter.

Wrapping Things Up: Key Takeaways on Basketball Tights

Wearing basketball tights have significant advantages from minor pluses such as increased comfort to more significant ones such as injury recovery and injury prevention. 

There is no significant disadvantage to wearing basketball tights. Once players choose tights that are of the correct size and materials, ones that they are not allergic to, they should be fine. The fact that these garments can help players to remain healthy while they play and help them to recover after is a slam dunk. 

We can only hope that the technology used in the creation of these tights will continuously improve so that we, as players, can continue to benefit from them even more. Until next time ballers, get your tights and keep it tight. 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll like our other basketball FAQ articles here.

More interesting FAQ articles here:

> Why Do Basketball Players Wear Masks?

> Why Do Basketball Players Wear Sleeves?

> Why Do Basketball Player Wipe the Bottom of their Shoes?

Hoops Addict
Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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