Complete Guide to Basketball Compression Tights 2023
Helpful tips and top picks to boost your game
Watch any professional or college basketball game nowadays and you’re likely to see quite a few players sporting compression tights.
In fact, these tights have become so commonplace that you might not even really notice the extra compression fabric extending past their shorts unless you’re purposefully looking for it.
But apart from their increasing popularity, you might be wondering what started this trend and what purpose do tights serve in basketball anyway?
Believe it or not, there are actually several benefits that compression tights offer basketball players (beyond just a cool look).
While compression shorts have long been the standard for basketball players of all stripes, many are now opting for the longer compression tights.
And if you think about it, this progression toward compression tights from compression shorts makes a lot of sense, as compression tights simply extend the benefits that compression shorts offer to more of your legs.
Also, note that there are different types of basketball tights that players can wear to meet various needs and preferences. The 3 main types of basketball tights are:
Full-Length Basketball Tights
¾ Length Basketball Tights
Padded Basketball Tights
Here, we’ve compiled our top picks for all 3 types of basketball tights, as well as some useful information for incorporating compression tights into your basketball game.
Note: Featured products are independently selected and reviewed by Compression Athlete. If you purchase through our links, we may earn commission.
Why Do Basketball Players Wear Compression Tights?
In the NBA, players compete in a long and grueling season that requires a ton of physical effort and puts lots of wear and tear on their bodies.
Many players wear compression tights and other compression garments to assist their in-game performance while also aiding in injury prevention and muscle recovery.
You may also notice that some basketball players wear padded compression tights, which are worn for the same reasons.
The padding helps with injury prevention and reducing general wear and tear on the body. All those bumps and bruises can add up and affect overall performance.
Basketball players of all skill levels can wear compression tights to achieve these same performance and injury-prevention benefits.
It doesn’t matter whether you play competitively or recreationally, anyone competing on the court knows that you can find yourself drenched in sweat and feel your leg muscles burning in no time at all.
Compression tights wick sweat from your body to help keep you cool, comfortable, and dry while you play.
Additionally, the compressive pressure applied to your legs offer muscle support and improved circulation. This helps players perform at a higher level for longer and many notice an improvement in muscle recovery time, as well.
Best Full-Length Basketball Tights: Nike Pro Dri-FIT
Full-length basketball tights feature your classic compression tight design.
The length runs from waist to ankle, covering and supporting all of your leg muscles. Their compressive fit keeps you locked in and worry-free while the fabric wicks sweat to keep you dry and comfortable.
The full-length tights are popular with players that want compression benefits extended to the entirety of their legs. This includes muscle support for increased endurance and a secure fit from top to bottom.
Our go-to choice for the best full-length basketball tights are Nike Pro Dri-FIT Tights.
Shop at Nike: Nike Pro Dri-FIT Tights
These are a great full-length option for basketball with a snug and secure fit that remains very stretchy and comfortable as you move.
These tights also utilize strategic mesh fabric for improved airflow and breathability, making them a great choice to wear under shorts.
The Nike Pro Dri-FIT Tights utilize sweat-wicking Dri-FIT technology to keep you dry, cool, and comfortable.
Not only are these Nike tights great for basketball but you’ll find wide use for them beyond the court, as well.
Check out our full list of picks for the Best Full-Length Basketball Tights.
Best ¾ Length Basketball Tights: Curry UNDRTD
The ¾ length tights are a common variation on full-length compression tights and an especially common choice among basketball players.
As the name implies, ¾ length tights only extend about three-fourths of the way down your leg, resting at about mid-calf. In this way, the ¾ length is like a hybrid between full-length tights and compression shorts.
The ¾ length is a popular choice among players that want the extra security of tights but prefer a freer fit that doesn’t extend to the ankle.
It’s also a good option for those looking for compressive support over their knee joints.
Our go-to choice for the best ¾ length basketball tights are the Curry UNDRTD ¾ Tights.
Shop at Under Armour: Curry UNDRTD ¾ Tights
The Curry UNDRTD ¾ Tights have a very cool two-toned fabric design that utilizes Under Armour HeatGear technology and 4-way stretch for mobility.
These tights also have a secure waistband and mesh panels for improved ventilation and comfortable wear under shorts.
Check out our full list of picks for the Best ¾ Length Basketball Tights.
Best Padded Basketball Tights: McDavid
Padded compression tights have the same design and fit as a normal pair of compression tights but with the addition of protective padding in key spots.
Most commonly, the protective padding is focused at the knee, thigh, or hip.
Padded compression tights are popular with players that take a lot of contact. Think high-flyers and low post battlers.
Whether it’s contact from other players or contact from hitting the court, all of it can add up and take a toll.
These tights are a great way to protect your lower body from bumps and abrasions both big and small, while also enjoying their many compression benefits.
Our go-to choice for the best padded basketball tights are McDavid Elite Hex ¾ Tights.
Shop at McDavid: McDavid Elite Hex ¾ Tights
Available on Amazon: McDavid Elite Hex ¾ Tights
We had to go with the true padded compression garment pioneer for this pick.
McDavid has been leading the way on padded compression for years now, so much so that they’re the popular choice among NBA players.
The Elite Hex Tights have padded HEX Technology that contours to your knee for added protection without restricting any of your movement.
These also have a breathable knit compression that stabilizes your muscles while keeping you cool and dry.
Difference Between ¾ Length and Full-Length Compression Tights
Apart from the length of leg, there’s very little difference in design, fit, or style between ¾ length compression tights and full-length compression tights.
Unlike with full-length compression tights, which extend all the way to your ankle, the ¾ length compression tights extend over your knee and end just after the curve of your calve muscle, typically resting just past mid-shin.
So, how do you choose between these two lengths?
Choosing between the two is really just a matter of feel and preference. There’s no technical advantage that one has over the other or extra benefits either.
Both lengths will fit great under shorts, stay secure while you play, and offer support to your leg muscles.
The ¾ length has become the popular choice for most NBA and college players.
This length, which serves as a hybrid between full-length and compression shorts, allows players to enjoy the benefits of compression tights while still feeling as though they’re wearing a sort of extended compression shorts.
Do Compression Tights Help in Basketball?
When you begin incorporating a quality pair of compression tights into your training or performance ensemble, it won’t take long for you to notice just how versatile and beneficial they can be.
Basketball is a great example of a sport where compression tights can have a big impact for players, which is why so many have begun to utilize them.
Compression tights provide basketball players with comfort, mobility, support, temperature regulation, and more.
The compressive pressure of the tights helps to increase circulation and stabilize leg muscles, which in turn improves your overall endurance.
Additionally, the tights offer a lightweight barrier of protection from the scrapes and abrasions that can occur on a basketball court.
Even beyond their in-game application, compression tights offer benefits to basketball players.
By improving blood circulation, the tights help to warm up your muscles faster prior to competing, which can aid injury prevention.
This improved circulation is beneficial for muscle recovery post-game, as well.
While compression garments alone won’t save you from muscle soreness, they can assist and speed up your recovery.
Since basketball often has short windows for recovery from one game to the next, wearing compression tights is an easy way for players to boost muscle recovery.
You can check out more of our picks for the top muscle recovery tools here.
Is It Okay to Wear Compression Tights for Extended Periods?
Compression tights sold by popular athletic brands, such as the picks mentioned above (Nike, Under Armour, McDavid, etc.) are absolutely fine for extended wear.
These compression tights are made for widespread use with normal compression pressure levels that range from mild to medium pressure.
In fact, not only are compression tights beneficial on the court, but they’ve also proven helpful in both pre and post activity.
The compressive pressure applied by the garment improves your circulation, which assists in warming up your muscles pre-activity and aids in muscle recovery post-activity.
Note, however, that compression garments with heavy pressure should only be worn in moderation or at the direction of your doctor, physical therapist, or other healthcare provider.
Such products will signal to the purchaser that they’re not intended for the average user.
Tights aren’t the only compression garments that you’ll see basketball players utilizing on the court. Compression sleeves are a staple on players nowadays and for good reason.
And for more on picking out a great pair of compression tights, check out our Comprehensive Guide to Compression Tights. We cover all of the most common questions surrounding wear, fit, and use.