When you think of the proper attire for basketball players, you may think of a few things: jersey, shorts, shoes. But another piece of iconic apparel is the compression sleeve. Not all basketball players wear them, but they’re an excellent addition to the uniform for several reasons such as style, recovery, and support.
But when you’re searching the web and scouring different stores, you’re probably asking yourself, what is the difference between these compression sleeves? And what makes one better than the other?
These things range from the material manufactured into them to the overall comfort, and the recovery it provides. Of course, there are a few more factors than the ones previously mentioned, but what it boils down to is how these aspects come together and contribute to making the best compression sleeves to wear while we’re on the court.
Know Your Fibers and Material
One of the most significant considerations to make when it comes to any piece of clothing or apparel is its material. And that becomes even more apparent when it comes to investing in a compression sleeve for basketball.
First off, you want to make sure you’re at least getting a compression sleeve with nylon material. While polyester is useful for regulating moisture and wicking away sweat, our preferred fabric for a sleeve is nylon. This preference is because nylon is a much lighter fabric compared to others which are needed to not interfere with your shooting arm when you’re dribbling or getting into shooting position with the ball. Also, you don’t need much moisture regulation because the elbow pit area (if it’s even called that) doesn’t build up that much sweat.
Another thing you want to consider is the feel of the sleeve itself. Nylon tends to be a much more comfortable and snug fit for a compression sleeve to polyester. But the big picture thing you have to keep in mind if you want a sleeve to feel as it’s not there. This is where this lightweight aspect comes into play. It should feel like it’s not there while still providing you the added benefits of compression and recovery. The sleeve shouldn’t distract you or be a burden during a game. In summary, it all comes down to this: it should feel like another layer of skin that helps support your body during and after a game.
The Significance of Recovery
Here’s a big one, and it should be the number one reason you’re picking up any piece of compression apparel, not just sleeves.
The support and fit are helpful, but where sleeves shine is after a game during the recovery process. If you’re heavy shooter or practice shooting a lot, a sleeve becomes a bigger necessity. You start to feel that soreness and swelling in your elbow and forearm and it starts getting to you when you get home. You can always put ice on it to help it heal, but I would recommend combining it with a compression sleeve. It will help to pump blood and lactate in your arm and elbow area which will stimulate muscle growth as well as speed up recovery times due to the efficiency of the compression.
Here’s where people will have differing opinions. Some players will appreciate the fact that the compression aspect of the sleeve is there, but in the world of basketball, aesthetics play a huge role too. If you want to level up your athletic look, a sleeve is one of the best ways to do that.
It adds a feeling of professionalism while you shoot which is similar to most NBA players, and speaking of those players, you’ve been marketed and shown that having a compression sleeve can be one of the ways to make you a great, if not, the best basketball player on the court.
While this is solely personal opinion, I think it’s an important factor to consider. I like a simple, plain black sleeve when I go play a pickup game or for when I go to practice. It’s interchangeable with most outfits and looks great. Also, it gives me this mentality and boost of confidence when I go out on the court. It shows I’m serious when I come to play (although that usually doesn’t translate as well for me on the court).
But whatever your thoughts on style, it definitely helps when you want to mix it up with your practice or game attire. It doesn’t hinder play style and would definitely say having the compression aspect still helps either way.
For whatever reason you want to buy a compression sleeve, just know that they’re a great asset to have with you on the court. They don’t hurt your performance and can only improve upon it.
You can put on a pair for practice, a pickup game, or maybe even a league game/tournament you have going on. I just want to stress that you stay informed of what you’re purchasing. If you need any help narrowing down your choices for a compression sleeve, we wrote up a list detailing the best sleeves in different categories to help speed up your search.