Why Do Basketball Players Wear Long Socks? Hint: Not for Street Cred

Have you ever wondered why basketball players wear long socks?

There are several innocuous reasons why professional basketball players wear long socks, such as image, fashion, and personal preference.

However, there are also valid medical reasons why players wear these socks, such as compression support, which cushions the knees and ankles.

Basketball is a high-impact sport involving a lot of movement; players spend most of their time on the court running, turning, balancing, and jumping, which can take a significant toll on their knees, legs, ankles, and feet.

This caution against injury is why players put a lot of thought into the type of socks and shoes they wear to reduce the chances of sports injuries that could affect their performance and long-term careers.

Top Reasons Why Basketball Players Wear Long Socks

Basketball Players Wear Long Socks for Cushioning

Because professional basketball players run and jump so much while they are on the basketball court, they need maximum cushioning to protect their knees, legs, ankles, and feet from wear and tear.

Long socks provide this much-needed cushioning better than short socks.

They provide excellent flexibility and support around the foot and ankles, giving players the traction needed to keep from sliding in their shoes when they run, jump, or abruptly turn.


The socks' material is also crucial. Most professional basketball socks are thick and made with a cotton, nylon, and elastane mix that gives the socks a nice, dry feel.

The sock's natural and ultra-fine polyester fibers provide superior anti-slip traction and cushioning while protecting the ankles and feet and allowing the legs to breathe.

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Basketball Players Wear Long Socks for Ankle Support

Basketball players also wear long socks to support their ankles and prevent career-ending ankle injuries.

Long socks stabilize the ankles during high-impact jumps. They can reduce muscle fatigue and the risk of injuries.

Long socks also absorb sweat better, which can be crucial in preventing slippage, especially when the player balances or dribbles the ball or performs an evasive or defensive maneuver.

Basketball Players Wear Long Socks to Enhance Blood Circulation

Players also prefer long socks to enhance blood circulation in their legs and feet as they play. The more oxygen their leg muscles receive, the better their legs and feet will function.

Knee-high socks provide an excellent compression mechanism that exerts extra pressure on the calves, helping to pump blood to the heart.

This action also eliminates the lactic acid build-up around the calf, which increases blood circulation, keeping players fresher for longer.

Related: Why Do Basketball Players Wear Tights?

Basketball Players Wear Long Socks to Maintain On-Court Cleanliness

Another vital feature that long basketball socks provide is moisture-wicking. Basketball is a highly intensive game that results in players sweating profusely.

With short socks, the sweat build-up on the player’s legs would go all over the court, causing hygiene and slippage issues.

Long socks consist of fabric that can absorb the sweat from the knee downwards, keeping players dry and clean and their sweat off the court.

These long basketball socks consist of highly-absorbent materials that keep the feet dry, reducing players' chances of developing fungal or bacterial infections and foul-smelling feet.

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Basketball Players Wear Long Socks to Enhance Long-Term Performance

Footwork is a fundamental basketball skill, and having the right type of socks provides the ankle and foot support needed to master this skill.

Apart from footwork, players must maintain superior balance and speed on the court, and they can only do so with the right type of gear.

Long, knee-high compression socks improve performance by wrapping around the calf muscles, reducing excessive muscle movement and minimizing soft-tissue damage from running, jumping, and dribbling.


These socks also help reduce swelling in the feet and ankles. Additionally, the pressure they exert on the legs causes the arteries to dilate, increasing oxygen supply to the ankles, feet, and toes.

Generally, long compression socks help player performance by:

  • Controlling swelling in the affected muscles
  • Eliminating the build-up of lactic acid and other waste products through enhanced circulation
  • Regulating the temperature in players’ leg muscles during and after the game
  • Reducing muscles soreness and quickening recovery after the game

Short socks provide none of the protection long socks give players and may affect their performance in the long run.

With the right compression gear, basketball players can maintain and improve their performance, lowering the risk of severe injuries.

More About Why Basketball Players Wear Long Socks

Why do basketball players wear socks and sandals?

Basketball players wear socks and sandals because they can.

Off-court, the locker room does not have a strict dress code, so players wear socks and sandals to air their feet and relax their toes.

Why do NBA players wear two pairs of socks?

Professional basketball players wear two pairs of socks for extra thickness and cushioning.

The double socks help to break in their basketball shoes while providing ample support.

These extra socks also provide knee padding during high-impact jumps and runs, protect against blisters and ankle injuries, and provide proven protection for the players’ calcaneus.

Do basketball players wear socks merely for "street cred"?

While image and appearance on the court are essential for basketball players – they are celebrities, after all – professional players do not wear long socks merely to enhance their image and "street cred."

Some basketball enthusiasts speculate that players wear long socks to cover up their skinny legs, but this is merely conjecture.


Long socks provide much-needed compression support to players’ knees, legs, ankles, and feet, and while they may look good, these functions outweigh any appearance-related reason for wearing them.

Bottom Line: Long Basketball Socks

We hope we've adequately answered the question of why basketball players wear long socks.

While some prominent basketball players wear long socks to be fashionable and amp up their "street cred,” professional players mostly wear long socks for comfort, cushioning, and compression support, guaranteeing stability on the court and improving performance.

Want some street cred? Then check out these Best NBA Champions Hat to Add to Your Collection.

Joshua Bast

My name is Joshua Bast and I have been playing basketball ever since I was 7 years old. I love the game play, I love the feeling whenever I score a basket, but what made me fell in love was the camaraderie with my team mates. This blog is dedicated to help any up-and-coming basketball players maximize their potential.

Joshua Bast