Compression shorts and tights have grown in popularity, and perhaps the sport that has seen the biggest increase in popularity is basketball. In the past few years, compression shorts and tights available for men, women and the youth in all different colors and sizes have exploded on the basketball scene. Watch an NBA game, and you will see a long pair of compression shorts or even full-length tights underneath the baggier uniform shorts.
Basketball players usually make use of compression gear as muscular support for their legs, and they are available in various forms (like undergarments and outdoor wear). Most commonly, basketball compression gear is usually made of material that is tight and stretchable and allows for the legs to gain some support. Compression shorts are specifically used by many basketball players for performance enhancement and comfort, and in the athletic world the recovery aspect of compression gear has been studied and noted for years.
Wearing compression tights and shorts for basketball and other active sports can be helpful in the overall gear ensemble. First off, compression shorts and tights are quite comfortable and provide you with such muscular support so you can enhance performance and keep muscles in close alignment. Perhaps one of the original reasons people began using compression shorts or pants, they can also reduce chafing and skin irritation between the groin area and thighs. As noted in many studies from the compression field, quality compression wear will also help improve blood circulation in the legs and oxygen transportation.
The technology that goes into compression shorts or leggings is similar to what is found in a good pair of compression tights – graduated compression to apply the most pressure to key areas, and a material that tends to be snug and not get wet or sweaty.
According to menshealth.com you may, or may not see a benefit from wearing compression shorts. In an interview for their site, Dr. Gerardo Miranda-Comas stated that compression shorts “can help with biomechanics,” and that’s why he does at times recommend wearing compression gear. He also notes that “Compression helps recruit muscle adequately and give you more synchronized movement.”
As a sports medicine physician and assistant professor at the Icahn School of Medicine, he certainly is an authority on the matter. That’s why it’s important to note that he also states there is no clear evidence that compression shorts will decrease the risk of injury.
Thus, he suggests that you should be skeptical of advertising claims regarding increased circulation. This may be true, but it will only be of benefit if the garments properly fit your body type. Meaning, you won’t see the full benefit unless your compression shorts are designed specifically for your body.
What You Should Look for in Your Basketball Compression Shorts
When shopping for your own basketball compression shorts, there are various features that you need to be looking for to make the most of your purchase, including:
- Sweat-wicking fabric, which means that the shorts can transport sweat away from your body by evaporating off the cloth. This has the benefit of making the cloth last longer as it will not become smelly too fast due to sweat exposure. Shorts made of such fabric will help keep you cooler.
- Many brands make their compression shorts using a cloth that has antimicrobial properties and odor resistance, something that will extend the lifespan of the shorts.
- Length. Make sure the length is right for you. We typically see basketball players want a longer short, something that goes all the way down to just above the knee. In some cases, we see players use something that actually covers the knee and gets tucked in to the long sock. Whatever the case, thinking about length is one of the most important factors, especially if you order online and can’t see the shorts first.
- There are three different types of compression shorts. If you want something to wear under your regular basketball shorts, then we would recommend that you buy the base layer type. If you want compression shorts that are the best at muscular recovery, then the recovery type is the best for you; and if you want compression shorts that would provide you with all the benefits, then the regular type is the type you should be buying.
- For those who regularly play basketball or workout, it is best to invest in quality. Not skimping on your shorts will give you a garment that provides the most compression and durability and they will be the most effective for your body; however, they will come at a higher cost. You will find cheap compression shorts on the market, but buy them at your own risk. You might find them in the garbage soon, and would have been better off spending a little more on something you want to wear.
- Most compression shorts come in different styles and colors, so it is up to you as to what kind you are looking for. If you will be wearing the compression shorts as part of a basketball uniform, obviously make sure the colors will go together well. You may want to buy the shorts as a team, so you know you each have the exact same style and color shade.
The 6 Best Basketball Compression Shorts and Tights
If you do not have any clue as to where you should shop for your compression shorts, have no fear as we have listed the top compression shorts available today:
Skins A200 Men’s Compression Half Tights
Skins offers some of the best compression wear available; however, their A200 half tights are by far the most comfortable and bring you value for your money. These are a great option if you are looking for something longer, that can tuck in to the sock and provide protection to the knee.
- Made with high-quality compression material;
- Strong compression;
- Efficient sweat-wicking properties which help in keeping your legs cool and dry;
- Comfortable fit;
- Can be worn for longer periods of time;
- Nice length – properly fitted, goes to just above the knee
- Great support to the hamstrings and glutes.
- White version is sheer and it may require an additional item of clothing to be worn on top;
- Some people may find the fit slightly low on the waist.
2XU Men’s Elite Compression Shorts
2XU has always been the world’s best provider of compression gear, but we recommend their Elite compression shorts for major support and aid in muscle recovery. 2XU is a highly trusted brand for all compression ewar
- Designed in such a way as to eliminate chafing when the correct size is worn;
- Incredible support for the quads and glutes;
- Very comfortable fit;
- Aids in leg muscle recovery.
- May run a size large (but you should check the size chart for a better idea of what size to buy).
- Due to brand name, will usually be one of the more expensive options
Under Armor Men’s HeatGear Armor Compression Shorts – Long
Under Armor provides high quality and low cost, so make sure that you take a look at this specific brand before wandering over to the more expensive and popular brands for your compression gear. The HeatGear shorts have stood the test of time, and consistently get high reviews from athletes in all sports, including basketball.
- Low-cost shorts with adequate compression;
- Comfortable fabric and fit;
- Sweat-wicking cloth.
- May not be suitable for taller people;
- Should be used as a base layer, under another pair of looser shorts. Not intended to be outerwear.
Under Armor Women’s authentic 7” Compression
Under Armor provides its customers with affordable alternatives for all the features of any other compression shorts.
- Adequate level of compression;
- Do not ride up when worn;
- Breathable fabric allows the legs to remain cool;
- Very affordable.
- Interior seam has been criticized for being slightly uncomfortable;
- May run slightly small for some people (especially people who are taller than average).
Nike Jordan AJ Three-Quarter Tights
If you are looking for something that extends below the knee, the Nike Jordan AJ Tights are a great option. Any Nike Jordan gear is built well for basketball, and these come in enough color options that it will coordinate well with whatever else you are wearing.
- 3/4 length will give you coverage below the knee
- Popular with basketball players
- Nike fabric is very breathable and odor-resistant
- Longer length can be warmer
- Nike is often more expensive
Nike Heatgear Compression Tights (3/4)
So you want to wear the same tights as Stephen Curry? These are the ones. Actually, we can’t verify they are the exact tights you see him wear in games, but they were marketed in the past with his SC 30 branding. They discontinued that exact branding, but the base model is still popular.
- Removes sweat easily and keeps you dry with its sweat wicking material;
- Anti-odor technology extends the life of the tights
- Nice 3/4 length fit provides some knee warmth and stability
- Coverage of the knee,
- Size tends to run a little big
- Testing suggests they can sometimes be prone to tear — so take good care of them
2XU Women’s Compression Shorts
2XU is widely known for its compression gear and women, it provides the best quality and fit. You get the quality that you pay for as they do not compromise in providing their buyers with the best of the best.
- Stronger level of compression compared to most shorts (especially those mentioned above);
- Provide a high amount of support to the glutes and hamstrings;
- Designed to prevent skin chafing.
- They are somewhat more costly than the other shorts which have been mentioned above.
Summary and Recommendation
If you could only buy one, we would say go for the Skins A200 half tights. Skins really knows what they are doing, and they have been making compression wear for as long as anyone. These tights will double as great running or recovery tights. If you don’t want to spend quite as much, and are looking for something that is basketball-specific, the UA SC30 will be a good fit. Under Armour has always done a nice job of producing gear in a way that keeps a lid on price, something that athletes and their parents have appreciated.
If you want more information on versatile, all-around compression shorts, we did a big piece on it here. It has been used by tens of thousands of people to help figure out which shorts are right for them.