Tights Are Now as Common as Sneakers in Basketball Now, but Why?

Why do basketball players wear tights? Certain tools of the trade are needed to play on the hardwood, but how did tights become involved? Details.

Chris Barilla - Author

Apr. 5 2022, Published 5:01 p.m. ET

A basketball game
Source: Getty Images

It goes without saying that basketball is arguably the most fashionable sport in the U.S. Whether it be limited edition sneakers, vibrantly printed jerseys, or the miscellaneous other training gear that works its way into many daily wardrobes, basketball often epitomizes athleisure clothing. However, one element of a lot of professional basketball players' outfits hasn't exactly translated into the mainstream, and some are even wondering why players tend to wear them at all.

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The clothing item in question would be tights, and there are a lot of them in the outfits of NBA, NCAA, and various other leagues' players across the globe. So, why do basketball players wear tights? What does it do for them in the game? Keep reading to find out.

A basketball game
Source: Getty Images
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Why do basketball players wear tights while playing?

In a game that is as focused on ability and speed as basketball, you'd think that any tight clothing would be a no-go. However, there are a lot of benefits to wearing tights, aka compression pants, while engaging in strenuous physical activity.

According to the Mayo Clinic, compression pants (leggings, etc.), serve a unique purpose by promoting circulation in the legs. On top of that, per Medical News Today, the compression basically helps keep everything in place. The overall combination of both of these factors reduces the possibility of strains or other serious injuries thanks to increased oxygen flow all over the body. Furthermore, they help keep chafing from occurring if too much friction develops when the legs move.

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In the case of tights, compression pants, or leggings worn by athletes, many come equipped with various small pads on contact points like the knees and ankles that help absorb some of the brunts of any fall that they may encounter. In a sport such as basketball, the possibility for one to fall to their knees onto the hardwood at any given point is very real, and padded tights will bear some of the force of a fall if it should occur.

A basketball
Source: Getty Images
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One of the major medical conditions that the proper utilization of tights can help mitigate is deep vein thrombosis. According to the Mayo Clinic, deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, "occurs when a blood clot (thrombus) forms in one or more of the deep veins in your body, usually in your legs. Deep vein thrombosis can cause leg pain or swelling but also can occur with no symptoms."

Tights or compression pants help limit the swelling caused by DVT by promoting proper blood flow throughout the legs.

If there's one other thing that tights are good for, it's keeping the wearer warm. Let's face it, basketball players aren't always practicing in brightly-lit, heated arenas, and sometimes their clothing needs to be weather-resistant. Well, by being so tight to the skin, tights afford the wearer a higher level of body heat retention, keeping muscles warm, relaxed, and ready to play at all times.

Due to the combination of all of the aforementioned factors and more, tights are a necessary and welcomed element in basketball worldwide. Hey — who knows? Maybe someday they'll become fashionable, too!

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