Why Do Basketball Players Wear Sleeves? Definition & Meaning

If you are a basketball lover and passionate about the game then while watching NBA, High school, or any college game you must have seen the players wearing sleeves either on one or both arms and at that point the thought “why the players wear sleeves?” must have touched your mind.

Here in this article, we are going to help you understand why these high-profile basketball players wear sleeves. Well, the answer to this question is not that tough, as we all know that the main thing to make sure of in any sport is to assure the comfort of the player where he or she can perform at maximum potential without having any chances of injuries or any other such troubles. Along with that these things also need to be taken care of that whether the player is confident enough. Is he feeling good? Now if we talk about NBA then players in NBA can play up to 82 games.

You may look at the career of LeBron James who played more than 15 seasons and has been a finalist for 8 times. To play this ton of games is really a tiring thing necessitating the taking care of the body as a first priority to have a long-lasting career where you can perform at the maximum potential along with being fit at all levels of life and game. And here comes the role of sleeves and here you get the answer to your question that why basketball do layers wear sleeves. The sleeves help to ensure the player`s Comfort, Protection, they provide Injury – Compression Benefits, have a Recent Tattoo, keep up with up-to-date Fashion, save from Floor Burn, keep the shooting arm warm, do not let the sweat in, and make him look good. We will be discussing these benefits in detail but let’s first have a look at the brief history of the arms sleeves.

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Quick History of the Basketball Players Wear Sleeve in

It was in the 2000-2001 season of the NBA when the first arm sleeve was worn by Allen Iverson. As he was suffering from a bursitis problem in his right elbow he was given the suggestion to wear an arm sleeve to help him get relief from pain and reduce bursitis effects. When he began to be known for it, many of his fans started to follow this act of him as a fashion. Now, even after being cured of bursitis he did not leave wearing sleeves as he found them comfy and protective for it did not allow bursitis to come back again. After him, Carmelo Anthony was the one who chose to wear a sleeve and after him, multiple renowned players started wearing it because of its therapeutic benefits

Why Do Basketball Players Wear Sleeves?

Basketball Players wear sleeves for multiple reasons but here we have tried to cover the most fundamental of them such as 

  1. Sleeves provide Comfort
  2. They provide protection
  3. They protect you against Injury and give Compression Benefits
  4. If you want to have any Recent Tattoo then sleeves help you the best way
  5. In recent years they have come up as one of the most trending Fashion
  6. They protect you against Floor Burn
    Now let us discuss the reasons one by one in detail after a brief discussion of these
    reasons, we will answer some related questions to arm sleeves and other protective


As already told above you play better actually at your maximum potential when feeling comfortable. Wearing a sleeve helps you feel comfortable. Its compression level keeps your arms firm making it more efficient for the game. But despite this advantage of sleeves don’t forget that much of the play is mental than physical. Much of the basketball seasons give a marathon-like feel where the competition gets harder and harder causing bruises and bums which you can easily cross playing with your full potential


As most of the game seasons last long, even at high school, they last up to almost four months, so, it becomes very much important to protect your body. And this can be smoothly done with the help of sleeves and the bonus is: that most of them come with padding to provide some extra protection. This padding protects you against fouled hard that may cause you to hit the ground multiple times. They also help you keep your body sore for overcoming match

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Compression Aids

The compression sleeves help you increase your blood pressure when you struggle with any injury requiring extra blood flow. They also help you perform at the maximum level. They help you feel better increasing your energy level and resulting in better gameplay.

Fresh Tattoo

If you are an NBA diehard fan then you might have seen that the players are made for tattoos. And most of them love to wear sleeves having tattoos on them. They frequently want to have new tattoos and sleeves with tattoos can greatly help them do this as they come with updated tattoos with every passing day. Sometimes you might get an offensive tattoo on your arm that may make you embarrassed in front of people, in such cases sleeves may help you hide the tattoo.

Fashion Icon:

As we all know that looking good is a matter of life and death for almost all of the people and basketball players are no exception. They want to look great and updated in front of their fans. And wearing arms sleeves is one of the things that help them look like a popular fashion icon. You may find multiple examples from the school and college students who can be ready to die only to see their favorite player updated and for those fans some of NBA players wear sleeves.

Why Do Basketball Players Wear Sleeves?

Floor Burn:

If you play basketball or watch it frequently then you must have noticed that you get floor burns easily while playing may be because of diving or getting knocked on the floor resulting from a hard foul. The floor burns are likely to stay for a long. And here comes the role of sleeves they help not only prevent floor burn but also protect current ones.

Keeps warmed up:

If you are a player or like to watch games then you must have already known how fundamental it is for a player to be properly warm. Being warmed up reduces the risk of injury ensuring the muscles to function better. Wearing a sleeve keeps your arm warm and increases the blood flow resulting in better performance

Keeps the sweat out:

Basketball is really a game to play. While playing it you get sweaty after some time and when it drips from the arm causes the ball to get slippery but the sleeves are there to keep the sweat out and maintain the freshness of your body.

Problems That You May Face With Arm Sleeves

It is a truth universally acknowledged that all things if have upsides they have some downsides as well. The same is the case with sleeves, along with having multiple benefits they also have some downsides in rare cases as well as given below:


Sometimes players are allergic to spandex or nylon, leading to a reaction that keeps them inoperative because they’ll be uncomfortable then.

Medical complications

Not being a doctor but sometimes, ill use of compression outfits carries heavy side effects such as worsening ischemia, breaking the skin, and peripheral nerve damage.

Some famous NBA Players who love Wearing Arm Sleeves

Here are some NBA players that we have noticed wearing arm sleeves (past and
· Ray Allen
· LeBron James
· Allen Iverson
· Carmello Anthony
· Russell Westbrook
· Kobe Bryant 
· Dwayne Wade

Conclusion: Why Do Basketball Players Wear Sleeves?

Wearing a sleeve brings a certain level of ease in playing the game to help perform better. It helps you protect yourself while playing against bruises and bumps. And as ultimately you want protection and efficiency in your game and wearing sleeves might help you attain this providing you a better chance to perform at peak level.