This article takes an in-depth look at what I consider to be the top basketball arm sleeves money can buy.
I’ve used many arm sleeves in my twenty-plus years of playing basketball. Taking that experience and matching it against extensive research allowed me to properly break down each and every item in this guide.
The McDavid 6500 is my pick for the best basketball arm sleeve as a result of its fit, feel, and moisture-wicking properties.
The soft item provides excellent compression in a way that keeps you both safe and warm at the same time. The Hex technology is amazing when it comes to impact protection, while the moisture-wicking properties are top-notch. You’ll never overheat with it on.
However, as great as the 6500 is, there are a few other excellent sleeves out there as well. If you’re curious about how they work or what they’re good at, read on.
Who Should Get This?
Basketball arm sleeves add extra compression, a factor that makes them perfect for players who suffer from arm pain or elbow issues. Anyone who’s experienced lasting arm discomfort will actively enjoy how they hold the arm in place to protect interior structures during play.
Beyond that, the extra layer makes the sleeves perfect for those who like to keep their shooting arm warm. You lose a lot of heat while sitting on the bench or standing on the wing. Getting some extra warmth keeps your muscles loose and reduces fatigue or soreness.
Top Basketball Arm Sleeves: Our Picks
Here I will go over the top arm sleeves and analyze what each one excels at while you’re running around.
1. McDavid 6500
- Best for: Overall
- Key Features: Soft, comfortable construction. Good compression with plenty of warmth. Hydroven moisture management Technology. 9mm-thick Hex technology.
- Padding: Closed cell foam
- Material: Nylon/Spandex
- Dimensions: 7 x 5 x 1 inches
The McDavid 6500 is an excellent compression sleeve that’s perfect for when you’re out on the court. Not only does it have a comfortable build (80 percent nylon, 20 percent spandex) but it also holds in your arm without being too tight or uncomfortable. The protection is top notch.
The big standout feature here is the Hydroven moisture management technology, which keeps you cool no matter how hard you push yourself. You still get the benefits of a sleeve, but never have to worry about sweating or overheating. It’s machine washable as well.
The only issue you may find with this model is that, as the focus is on the compression, it sits a bit tighter than some may want. If you’re someone who enjoys looser clothing, you probably want to go with another option. If you need that fit, however, it excels.
2. Pro Combat Elite
- Best for: Durability
- Key Features: Dri-fit fabric. Breathable, light, and easy to wear. Machine washable. Actively wicks away sweat. Tough. Flat lock construction for premium fit.
- Brand: Nike
- Material: Polyester, spandex, silicone
- Dimensions: 7.2 x 4.2 x 1.7 inches
The Pro Combat Elite is a great basketball sleeve for people who need to absorb a lot of contact. That includes guards who like to drive as well as big men who enjoy crashing down inside the paint. They have a tough build and strong construction that keep you safe.
This also hits my list due to its comfortable feel. The Dri-Fit fabric actively wicks away sweat to keep you dry no matter how hard you play, while the soft material is great against your skin. If you want to stay comfortable and safe at the same time, this sleeve goes a long way.
The only weak point here is the fit. While the flat lock construction works well enough, in longer games you’re going to find yourself pulling it up from time to time. If you don’t mind a little readjusting during play, it’s a great sleeve with toughness few models are able to match.
3. KuhnMarvin Cooling Sleeve
- Best for: Comfort
- Key Features: Premium UV protection. Snug-but-comfortable. Stretch fit. One size fits most. Cooling and drying technology. Bright color options.
- UPF Rating: 50
- Material: Polyester, spandex
- Dimensions: 5 x 5 x 0.7 inches
When it comes to comfortable sleeves, few can match this model from KuhnMarvin. Where many options go a long way toward keeping you comfortable, this model actively fights heat through the unique cooling technology. It comes with ample UV protection too.
A big part of what makes this sleeve so important is the seamless construction. That, combined with the inherent sweat-wicking fabric, ensures you won’t get uncomfortable or itchy when you play. The stretch fit is another excellent characteristic that helps the sleeve move with your body.
Just note that this is not a true compression sleeve. It will keep your arm warm and help you shoot, but it’s not going to offer a ton in the injury prevention department. It can also tear if you catch it with a sharp surface. For that reason, you want to be careful when using it outside.
4. UV Sun Protection Sleeve
- Best for: Outdoor
- Key Features: Cooling effect. Great moisture wicking. Comfortable and affordable. Excellent UV protection. Several color options.
- Brand: OutdoorEssentials
- Material: Polyester
- UPF Rating: 50+
If you’re someone who enjoys playing on the blacktop, this sleeve from OutdoorEssentials is a great pick. Not only can it stand up to the elements, but the impressive 50+ UPF rating ensures you won’t get any damage from the sun no matter how long you’re outside.
As an added bonus, the sleeve has well-made cooling properties that wick moisture. You get plenty of coverage, but will never overheat or get too sweaty. As the pack comes with six different sleeves, you get a lot of value for your money. They look great as well.
If durability is your main concern, however, these probably aren’t the sleeves for you. They’ll be fine when used in different weather conditions, but they don’t hold up as well as similar options. If you’re a big who likes to get physical, you might want another sleeve option.
5. Under Armour Shooter Sleeve
- Best for: Versatility
- Key Features: Moisture-wicking material. 4-way stretch fabrication. Quick-drying fabric with full arm coverage. Wide range of fits and sizes.
- UPF: 30+
- Material: Polyester
- Dimensions: 1 x 1 x 1 inches
This sleeve from Under Armour, as the name suggests, is a well-rounded model that helps with your shooting. Crafted from 100 percent polyester and completely hand washable, it provides a comfortable feel without ever becoming too stuffy or uncomfortable.
This shines through the premium construction. The 4-way stretch fabric offers unmatched flexibility, actively moving with you as you dribble or get back for defense. The high UPF rating means it does well outside, and the different sizes ensure it will always sit just right.
If this sleeve has a drawback it’s that it won’t hold up to the elements or extremely rough play as other options. There’s not a ton of cushion, nor is there a lot of weather resistance. In a gym under controlled conditions, however, it’s a great choice.
6. Kunto Support Sleeve
- Best for: Compression
- Key Features: Durable 4-way stretch material. Well-ventilated. No-slip grip. True fit style that provides excellent compression. Great fit. Comfortable.
- Closure: Pull on
- Material: Nylon, spandex, rubber
- Dimensions: 8.82 x 5.16 x 0.67 inches
If your main focus is a sleeve with good compression, don’t look any further than this model from Kunto. While it’s a bit more focused than similar models due to it sitting on the elbow, it still offers excellent protection and braces your elbow joint in a way that freely absorbs impacts.
The tri-material construction is tough, but still manages to feel great. The true fit is also no-slip. Once you put this on, it’s not going anywhere until you take it off. Add on the manufacturer’s warranty and you get an excellent, well-rounded sleeve with amazing support.
Of course, this sleeve is much shorter than other popular options. That won’t be a big deal for some, but it might annoy those who want or need full protection. The compression fit may also be a bit on the tight side for players who want looser equipment.
Best Basketball Arm Sleeves: What to Look For
Watching out for these characteristics will ensure you get the best basketball arm sleeve for you.
All sleeves keep your arm warm, but not all of them offer full protection. If you get any arm pain or discomfort during play, look for hardy sleeves with a lot of durability. Tight-fitting ones with a lot of extra strength are particularly important, as they offer full protection during impacts.
Sleeves need to be tight but not restricting. That is to say, they need to offer flexibility and let you shoot while you move. Get a model that fits your arm without being too tight. If you don’t know what size you want or need, err on the side of caution. You never want to go too small.
Appearance and Color
Arm sleeves, at the end of the day, are a clothing item. You want them to look good. Not everyone needs to have bright, interesting designs, but if you care about your on-court appearance don’t be afraid to get a well-made model that comes in your favorite colors.
Now that you know all about the top arm sleeves, this section will answer some additional questions you may have.
Are Arm Sleeves Good for Basketball?
Yes. While they are not completely necessary, the items give you a lot of warmth and support during play. That helps your game from an energy, and injury prevention, standpoint.
Why Do Basketball Players Wear Arm Sleeves?
Basketball players wear sleeves for two reasons. First, they may put them on to keep their arm from cooling down during a game. Second, they may wear them for extra support and to help protect their arm from additional injury as they play.
Why Does Lebron Wear an Arm Sleeve?
Lebron wears an arm sleeve to improve his circulation and get heat to his muscles. That reduces long-term soreness, improves his flexibility, and helps him keep a good shooting form.
Do Arm Sleeves Make You Shoot Better?
Arm sleeves regulate your arm temperature in a way that improves general mobility and maintains high energy. Both of those aspects can keep your arm fresher for longer, which lets you shoot better as a game goes on.
Useful Tips and Resources
Though many players choose not to use arm sleeves during a game, there are many reasons to put one on. The above sections cover the best options on the market, but it always helps to take a deeper dive into the sleeve’s history.
Having a great sleeve is important, but so is knowing how to wear it. This video will give you the tips you need on that front.
I believe the McDavid 6500 is the best basketball arm sleeve you can get. That’s mainly due to the construction, which manages to be warm, comfortable, and sturdy all at the same time. It also wicks moisture well and allows you to push yourself as hard or as soft as you need.