You’ve likely seen NBA players sport this unique clothing item, but basketball compression pants are more than just a trend. It’s a performance-enhancing, health-conscious, optimized piece of clothing—perfect for athletes.
We know that sounds like a mighty task for just a pair of pants, but they do live up to the hype. Compression pants have significant benefits for anyone who frequently works out, trains, or spends a lot of time moving around.
After testing, researching, and reviewing compression pants available today, we’ve assembled a buying guide of the best sport-pants, who should consider buying them, and what you should keep in mind while shopping.
- Best Overall Pick
- Stretchy mesh fabric to improve ventilation
- 4-way stretch construction moves better in every direction
- Best for Colder Temperatures
- Moisture-wicking material helps dry quicker
- Great base layer
- Best for Hot Workouts
- Mesh fabric enhances ventilation in high-heat zones
- Dri-FIT Max fabric helps you get drier, faster
- Best for Running
- Vacuum-seal design helps prevent chafing
- Double pocket design
- Best Budget Buy
- Variety of colors and patterns
- Non-abrasion fabric material
- Best Padded Compression Pants
- “Anti-collision” knee pads
- 3D flexibility and ergonomic flat seams
What Are Compression Pants?
To start, we want to lay the groundwork for what qualifies as compression pants. These aren’t just leggings or sweatpants that people throw under their basketball shorts. It’s a flexible, skin-tight, spandex garment that feels like it’s vacuum-sealed to your body.
That super-tight feeling is what makes the pants so beneficial. Manufacturers specifically design compression pants to support critical points on your legs and enhance body performance. That tight support keeps your blood flowing and vulnerable spots, like your knees, reinforced.
Best Basketball Compression Pants 2021
Our favorite overall pick for the best basketball compression pants is Under Armor’s HeatGear 2.0 Leggings.
It may be called “HeatGear,” but these pants are lightweight and breathable. A huge obstacle for legging-style pants is their lack of ventilation. Producers of the 2.0 Leggings strategically stitch in stretchy mesh fabric to improve ventilation in high-sweat areas.
The fabric material is mostly polyester and elastane. It has a four-way stretch guarantee—which means that you will be able to outmove, outperform, and outrun your competitors without worrying about overstretching your pants.
Under Armor’s fabric wicks away sweat. The breathability of the pants and the moisture-free material helps players regulate their body temperatures. Designers hope to keep you cool, even during long summer games. The compression pants are available in six colors.
Cold weather shouldn’t stop you from shooting hoops. CompressionZ makes thermal compression wear for men who wish to work out, even during freezing temperatures.
The fabric on these pants is made of nylon and spandex and stretches in several different directions. The stitching design prevents tearing and allows for more mobility on the court. The waistband is thinner than most leggings, but it is tight and doesn’t slide down your body while you’re moving.
The moisture-wicking material on these pants helps the fabric dry quicker. In cold, wet environments, dry clothing can make or break your performance and health. Layering thermal compression pants with your workout gear will keep your body warmer and drier during your workout and recovery.
These pants are available in several colors and patterns, as well as in mid-calf length. Even after several months of use, users say the pants didn’t lose their stretch and stayed fitted to their bodies. Be sure to double-check the size guide to be certain you’re buying the correct size basketball compression pants. No one wants a pair that is too loose or too tight.
If you run a bit hotter when you workout or live in a warm climate, steer toward gear that will help with temperature regulation.
Nike Pro Hypercool will keep your body cool and maximize your workout. The shorter length allows for some added mobility and breathability. The fabric has mesh material in “high-heat” areas, and the unique Nike Dri-FIT Max fabric helps wick away sweat or water. Its ventilation is better than most legging-style or compression pants.
The Hypercool is a prime piece to add to your regular workout gear, but it also comes at a premium price. It’s more expensive than the other compression pants on our buying guide.
Our only concern with these pants is that the waist may sometimes slide down a bit while you’re working out. Nike leggings are fantastic quality, but they don’t always stay firmly on your hips.
For basketball players who are interested in cross-training with running, consider Runhit’s compression pants. These pants are durable enough to withstand a rough basketball game but flexible enough to move with you on a long run.
The Runhit compression pants are made of polyester fibers and spandex. The production company says the pants have UV-resistant properties, so if you’re outside in the sun frequently, the pants will help prevent sun damage on your skin.
These pants won’t slide around on your body. Their vacuum-seal design helps prevent chafing or rubbing against your skin, a massive bonus for long-distance runners. However, one of the best features of this workout gear is its pocket. If you’re heading to the court or planning on a long run, you’ll be able to carry your phone or keys in your hip-side pockets.
The Runhit Compression Pants receive excellent reviews. They aren’t available in many colors or patterns, but their durability speaks for itself. These compression pants are also very budget-friendly.
The best compression pants for a basketball player on a budget come from DRSKIN. The company offers affordable, competitive compression pants in a variety of colors and patterns. With plenty of options to choose from at prices that won’t make you sweat, DRSKIN proves to be a worthy contender in the workout gear game.
Manufacturers designed these pants to withstand every season and the different temperatures that they bring. The pants are breathable and “UV blocking.” The company says its fabric, which is made mostly of polyester and spandex, provides “two-way air circulation,” which helps keep your workouts crisper in the summer months and warmer in winter.
The material is flexible and suits many different body types. It has a higher waist fit, which helps the pants remain firmly on your body while you’re moving, sleeping, or just casually wearing the gear. Follow the company’s sizing guide to ensure you’re buying a pair that fit you properly.
Basketball games can occasionally get pretty rough. If you’re the kind of player who dives to the ground to keep the ball in play, compression pants with padding may significantly improve your game.
Legendfit has elastic compression pants with “anti-collision” knee pads. The pants do not have padding on the thighs, hips, or groin area.
The beehive-style padding is thin enough to allow for flexible movement while still protecting your knees from brunt force.
The material of the compression pants themselves is mostly polyester and spandex. The fabric is breathable, elastic, and helps with temperature regulation. It also stands up to piling, which means the material itself won’t ball up and pick off over time.
We do want to note; the padding can feel hot over time. Fortunately, the padding is only limited to the knee areas, which means that more of the fabric will be breathable than not. If you already run pretty hot, padded pants may not be for you.
Some reviewers did comment that the beehive padding tore apart with repeated use or while in the wash. We recommend washing the pants on a gentle cycle and hanging them to dry to prolong their lifetime.
What Are the Benefits of Compression Pants?
You may be wondering why compression pants are useful or how a pair of pants could play such a significant part in your health. The secret behind these pants is their tightness.
Basketball compression pants improve players’ recovery time, blood circulation, and even temperature regulation. Researchers found that compression pants even play an extensive part in recovery after muscle damage due to intense workouts.
The way the pants cling to your body supports potentially vulnerable areas, like your knees or calves. That support prevents injuries or muscle strains in these weaker areas.
If you’re prone to tears or strains while training or working out, compression pants could help. Over time, you may notice fewer accidents, injuries, or pulled leg muscles.
The tightness of compression pants opens the door for improved blood circulation. That blood pumps to your muscles and carries more oxygen throughout your legs. That is what ultimately provides relief and faster recoveries for your muscles.
When people stand on their feet for long periods, blood can pool around their feet and ankles. It takes more work for your body to pump that blood back up to your heart.
Compression clothing keeps your blood pumping and circulating. It can provide a bit of relief to your cardiovascular system by encouraging blood flow and preventing blood pooling.
So, overall, compression pants can provide several health and performance benefits, including:
- Less muscle fatigue
- Increased blood circulation
- Joint support
- Faster muscle recovery
- Regulated muscle and body temperatures
- Reduced inflammation
All of these effects can impact your workout time, endurance levels, and continued recovery. If you could prevent injuries and improve your game just through your workout gear, wouldn’t you be interested?
Who Should Buy Basketball Compression Pants?
Compression pants are great for anyone who spends a lot of time on their feet. Nurses are known for wearing unique compression socks under their scrubs to improve blood circulation and help them stay on their toes for hours-long shifts. Those skin-tight stockings prevent varicose veins, blood pooling, and foot pain.
Anyone who spends a significant amount of time on their feet, either for work or working out, may find that compression pants help relieve some of the pressures of constant standing.
Basketball compression pants are not just for athletes, although they have many athletic rewards. These pants are great for anyone who lives an active lifestyle.
If you’re new to working out, these pants can help you too. Ankle-length compression pants support your calves, knees, thighs, and backside. As you begin setting workout plans, these pants can help prevent injury and encourage healthy habits.
On top of all of these physical benefits to compression pants, they also look pretty great. You can find fantastic looking, performance-enhancing basketball compression pants that fit your budget.
How to Find the Right Basketball Compression Pants
There are so many compression pants available; it can feel overwhelming to pick just one. To help save you time and money, we have a couple of tips on specific features to look for in workout gear.
Breathability is one of the essential qualities of compression pants.
While you need to look for tighter pants to receive compression pants’ health and performance benefits, you will get hot if there is no proper ventilation. It isn’t hygienic if there’s no breathability, as well. Sweat can pool and dry and create a breeding ground for bacteria— gross.
People often overlook the waistband of compression pants, even though it can quickly become one of the most frustrating components of your workout gear. If your pants continually slide down or lose elasticity, you’ll find yourself pulling up your waistband every time you stand up, squat, or run.
It’s better to invest in compression pants with a thicker, sturdy waist now, instead of having to replace them in just a few months. If the waistband feels too tight initially, give it a bit of time. Compression pants naturally expand after continued use, and you’d rather begin a bit compact than start too loose.
The fabric and stitch design of your compression pants are crucial. Look for compression pants with higher percentages of spandex material. This cloth prevents piling and is designed for flexibility.
If you opt for cheaper fabrics, you may find it ripping or tearing at extremely inopportune moments.
Final Thoughts: Basketball Compression Pants
The health benefits alone are reason enough to invest in a reliable pair of compression pants. The increased blood circulation is excellent for your legs and heart, and the support for your knees, calves, and thighs prevents muscle strains. Compression pants are known to limit injuries and help with muscle recovery, even after significant stress or damage.
Beyond the positive health impacts, though, basketball compression pants can also help improve your game. Your endurance levels may grow, and your muscle rebound after intense workouts will only get better and better.
Investing in great gear is an excellent way to set yourself up for success. Opt for the best basketball compression pants and see the benefits for yourself.