Why Do Basketball Players Wear Tights? What’s that Under Their Shorts?

If you’ve ever watched a basketball game, be it a professional one or a pick-up game at your local gym, you have probably noticed that several basketball players often wear tights under their shorts.

While some people think they do this to look cool, there are several fundamental reasons basketball players wear tights.

What Do Basketball Players Wear Under Their Shorts?

Many basketball players often wear a pair of tights or sometimes full-length leggings under their basketball shorts. Their technical name is compression tights or shorts, and there are a wide variety of options made for men, women, and young basketball players.

They are made from a tight and stretchable material and serve a crucial role. 

compression-shorts

Why Do Basketball Players Wear Compression Pants?

Here are some of the reasons why basketball players wear compression shorts underneath their standard shorts.

Additional Support and Protection

The idea of compression shorts is to have them be skin tight. This tight fit places additional pressure on the muscle groups that the tights are supporting. The added pressure offers extra support because it reduces vibrations throughout the muscles and helps keep them steady.

On top of that, opting for compression tights that come with pads will offer you more protection. When playing, some basketball players love driving to the hoop or crashing the boards. Such players tend to get more bumps and bruises.

A pair of compression tights with honeycomb padding will minimize those bumps and bruises, protecting their knees during the game.

Increased Blood Flow

According to a recent study done by the University of Regensburg in Germany, players who wear tights during certain sporting activities experience significant blood flow increases to their arteries.

This increase in blood flow throughout a player’s body helps their heart provide their limbs with oxygen-rich blood quicker than usual.

Increased blood flow can also improve internal organs’ functions and help promote the healthy growth of cells. In the long term, it can even help your body to fight off infections faster.

What-Do-Basketball-Players-Wear-Under-Their-Shorts

Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis is a condition that mainly occurs in the lower thigh and leg areas. It is a condition that involves blood clotting in the veins, causing swelling that can be very painful. It can also be characterized by an increase in temperature in that area, which can cause further discomfort and injury.

If left to progress, the blood clot could block an artery, travel to a person’s lungs, and in severe cases, cause death. Seeing that compression tights promote blood flow and manage swelling, players who wear them can help prevent deep vein thrombosis and blood clots.

Better Sweat Management

If you have ever played any sport before, you know that heavy sweating is part of the game. While it is entirely normal, sweating will quickly leave you feeling thirsty and dehydrated.

Compression tights are often made of materials, such as nylon or polyester, which are lightweight and breathable, and help move moisture away from the player’s skin to the outside of their tights.

The sweat then evaporates, leaving the tights cool and dry. In turn, this helps the player’s skin for more extended periods.

Protection Against Chafing

In addition to sweating, certain areas of your body, such as your thighs, are prone to chafing during prolonged sporting activity. 

Compression tights are made of smooth material, and since they cover your thigh areas, they can help protect that area from skin rubbing.

Warmth

Considering that many professionals play basketball all-year-round, even during the colder months of winter, wearing something that will help them stay warm is essential.

According to studies, compression tights can help keep limbs and muscle groups warmer for longer, assisting players in avoiding cramps and other injuries.

Compression tights do this by trapping warmth, slowing down the speed at which a player’s muscles become cold. Some compression tights can even help players stay warm even after they finish playing.

Prevent Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Basketball players often go through extensive physical training during practice and games. Once the practice and games are over, it is not uncommon for players to experience muscle fever.

On top of that, the games exert physical strain that can cause the muscles to experience micro-tears, hindering the player from reaching peak performance.

Athletes can reduce soreness caused by muscle fevers and micro-tears by wearing compression tights. Wearing the tights can also minimize muscle oscillation when leg muscles vibrate as the feet hit the ground.

Prevent Muscle Tightening

While basketball players always perform pre-game warm-up exercises and slight stretching, the warm-up and stretching effects can begin to fade the more exhausted the players become over time.

When this happens, a player’s muscles tend to tighten, making it challenging for them to perform at their best. We have touched on how compression tights keep the blood flowing and the muscles warm.

The tights also help retain the benefits of the pre-game warm-up and stretching for longer, significantly reducing the player’s risks of experiencing muscle tightness.

Better Muscle Recovery

The standard NBA starter who plays night in, night out often ends up playing an average of slightly more than three games per week in a 26-week, 82-game season.

After three or four games every week, they also have to go through training sessions, even during the off-season. That is a lot to take.

Considering such a short turn-around between games and seasons, basketball players do not have the amount of time they would like to recover from the grueling physical exertion properly. Fortunately, wearing compression tights goes a long way in helping them with muscle recovery.

For Fashion

Sometimes, the reason for wearing compression tights or shorts can be as simple as looking good on the court. With tights coming in a wide variety of colors and patterns, basketball players can easily add a bit of fashion to their uniforms.

Some choose to match the color of their tights with the color of their uniforms to make the whole ensemble pop out a bit more, while others opt for color blocking as a way of making a fashion statement. With nine other players on the court, sometimes standing out from the crowd doesn’t hurt.

In Conclusion

While the compression tights basketball players wear offer several advantages, ranging from reduced muscle pain, inflammation, and damage to improved lactate elimination, they will not enable you to play the game at a level you have never played before.

Compression tights will shorten the time your muscles take to recover after a game. Unfortunately, they will not magically give you the ability to drain three-pointers like Steph or dominate like LeBron. That takes a lot more time and commitment!

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