Why Do Basketball Players Wear Arm Sleeves?

If you watch the NBA or even college basketball, there’s no doubt that you have noticed some players wearing a sleeve on one or both arms. These sleeves are not attached to their jersey or even part of their uniforms. Have you ever wondered what they are for? Why do basketball players wear arm sleeves?

Arms sleeves which also may be called shooting sleeves or compression sleeves have become very popular over recent years. Let’s take a quick look at some of the history of shooting or arm sleeves in basketball

Quick History of the Arm Sleeve in Basketball

The first time I remember seeing an arm sleeve worn in basketball was back in the 2000 – 2001 NBA season when Allen Iverson started wearing one. Iverson began wearing the arm sleeve because he apparently had bursitis in his right elbow and this was a suggested way of relieving pain and reducing the effects of bursitis.

Once Iverson became known for it, many fans took to the fashion side of the sleeve and began to purchase and wear them. Iverson continued to wear the sleeve even after his bursitis went away. It may have been to keep it from coming back or it may just have been one of those things where he was comfortable wearing it while playing and it made him feel more secure when shooting.

After Allen Iverson, I remember Carmelo Anthony wearing sleeves on each arm when they played for the Denver Nuggets. With many players hearing of the therapeutic benefits of wearing arm sleeves, they became a very popular trend around the league.

Many other popular players have worn shooting sleeves, such as Ray Allen, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and the list goes on. You see them in just about every NBA game now and also in college basketball.

Benefits of Wearing a Basketball Arm Sleeve

Obviously, players are not wearing these just for the fun of it or a fashion statement, although some may argue that they do look good. Arm sleeves have some very good therapeutic benefits, so let’s take a look at some of them.


Compression is a well known and modern type of therapy for injuries. It increases blood flow to the area and promotes healing.

Pain Relief

Arm sleeves help in relieving pain to the elbow joint and soft tissues of the arm. While part of this is due to compression, the other part is that the sleeve helps to hold the elbow in place and the light counter pressure on the soft tissues can sometimes help to relieve pain.


Many players feel that a shooting sleeve helps to keep their arm warm and ready to take a shot at any time. They may not even have an injury or pain, but feel that it helps keep their arm ready to go which makes them a better shooter.

Prevent Injury

Sleeves may also help to prevent injuries. By keeping the are warm as stated above, they can prevent pulled muscles. The sleeve can also prevent injuries such as hyperextension by helping to hold the joints in place.


Some players just feel it gives them more confidence. Whether it is superstition or just the fact it helps prevent injury, if it works, then go for it. Confidence is a very important part of being a good basketball player.

Additional Resources

Arm sleeves are not just for NBA and college players. They can work well for any basketball player at any level. If you have never tried one, you might want to purchase one and give it a try. Take a look at these best arm sleeves to see if they can help your game.

Final Words

Arm sleeves, also known as shooting sleeves or compression sleeves are very popular for basketball players today. You will see many NBA and college players wearing them and you may also see them used in recreational play. They can provide many therapeutic benefits as well as give a player the confidence to play at the top of their game.

What is your opinion of arm sleeves? Have you ever used one? We’d love to hear from you, so please leave your comments if you would like.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *