• Compression Athlete

What Should I Wear Under Basketball Shorts?

Learn the favorite choice of players for comfort and confidence on the court.

Whether you’re new to the sport, just starting to play competitively, or simply curious about the standard practice, you might be wondering what basketball players should wear beneath their shorts when competing.

Having different uniform styles across various sports can always make this choice a little tricky for the uninitiated. Not to mention, certain sports rely heavily on personal preference whereas others have a best or most common choice.

When it comes to basketball, you want a comfortable solution that keeps you secure, supported, and locked in while you’re moving around on the court.

For many years now, there has been an overwhelming favorite among basketball players, both men and women, that not only meets the basic needs but also elevates overall performance.

So, here we’ll cover what the common practice is among basketball players when it comes to deciding what to wear under basketball shorts.

What Do Most Basketball Players Wear Under Their Shorts?

Basketball is a high-intensity sport that requires quick cutting, sprinting, jumping, and defensive shuffling. It’s also fairly common for players to end up knocked down on the court, whether taking a charge or taking contact at the rim.

Basketball players require baselayer garments that are designed to handle high-intensity activity. For this reason, compression shorts are the overwhelming favorite among basketball players to wear under their uniforms.

This is true among both male and female players, including those at the highest levels of play in the NBA and WNBA.

Basketball players wearing compression shorts under uniform shorts.

So, why is this exactly? What makes compression shorts so well suited for basketball?

For starters, the snug and stretchy fabric of compression shorts fits like a second skin and wears perfectly under the looser fitting design of basketball shorts.

This provides players with a secure baselayer, so no matter how much your basketball shorts shift, slide down, or ride up as you play, you can count on your compression shorts staying in place no matter what.

Additionally, compression shorts apply slight compressive pressure to your leg muscles, which increases stabilization and overall muscle endurance.

And the fabric of compression shorts is lightweight, breathable, and features sweat-wicking capabilities, which is ideal for a high perspiration sport like basketball.

You might have also noticed how some players wear padded compression shorts, such as these padded compression shorts from McDavid, the brand that pioneered padded compression garments.

Padded compression shorts have built-in padding on the thighs and tailbone that is lightweight, flexible, and well-positioned to protect against the typical bumps and bangs that occur in basketball.

College and NBA players are the most common wearers of these padded options, as the more physical style of play can take a toll on a player’s body over the course of a season.

Best Basketball Compression Short Picks for Men

While there are several great athletic brands out there today, when it comes to choosing the best compression shorts for basketball, two in particular stand out among the pack.

Both Under Armour and Nike have led the way for compression baselayers and remain the favorites of basketball players at every skill level from amateurs to professionals.

Shop at Under Armour: UA HeatGear Compression Shorts

Shop at Dick's Sporting Goods: UA HeatGear Compression Shorts

These compression shorts feature the most important characteristics of basketball compression shorts: lightweight fabric, full mobility and stretch, and a sleek design that fits well under athletic shorts (i.e. no pockets or other bulky features).

Shop at Nike: Nike Pro Compression Shorts

Shop at Dick's Sporting Goods: Nike Pro Compression Shorts

The quality fabric and superior design utilized by these compression shorts from Under Armour and Nike make them the favorites of most basketball players.

And the numerous performance benefits that compression shorts offer make them the best all-in-one option to wear under basketball shorts.

Best Basketball Compression Short Picks for Women

Just as with the men’s picks, Nike and Under Armour are the stand out choices for women’s basketball compression shorts.

Shop at Nike: Nike Pro 365 Compression Shorts

Shop at Dick's Sporting Goods: Nike Pro 365 Compression Shorts

These compression short picks feature lightweight fabric with a comfortable and stretchy fit that won’t restrict your lower body movement in any way. They also utilize a sleek design that eliminates bunching and fits great under athletic shorts.

Shop at Under Armour: UA HeatGear Compression Shorts

Shop at Dick's Sporting Goods: UA HeatGear Compression Shorts

In general, women have a bit more freedom than men when it comes to choosing what to wear under basketball shorts.

Besides being a comfortable and secure baselayer, compression shorts offer support in the groin region, which for obvious anatomical reasons is more important to men than women.

So, if you have an underwear preference that fits comfortably and smoothly under your basketball shorts (i.e. wont chafe) and offers full mobility on the court, by all means go with what you’re most comfortable in.

However, keep in mind that other options typically wont be able to offer the same benefits that compression does, such as overall security, muscle stability, and sweat-wicking capability, among others.

These characteristics come in very handy during a high-intensity practice or game.

Choosing the Right Basketball Compression Shorts

When choosing a pair of compression shorts to wear for basketball, you’ll want to think about maximizing the benefits that compression can offer your game.

Compression shorts should wear like a second skin—tight but not restrictive. This is the key factor that makes compression shorts ideal for basketball.

They offer benefits that come from a snug fit, such as worry-free security, muscle stability, sweat-wicking, and a great fit under shorts that eliminates chaffing, all while still retaining the mobility and flexibility required of you on the court.

Remember, as you’re choosing compression shorts comfort is key. Compression shorts should actually have a very pleasant and comfortable fit. You should have no problem wearing them for extended periods of time.

It’s also a smart idea to have a few pairs of compression shorts available, especially if you have a long season ahead with many practices and games.

Even with their sweat-wicking capabilities, you’ll want to opt for a clean (and dry) pair each time and wash after each use.

Finding the right pair may take a little trial and error, as various compression garment fabrics and styles can fit differently on different athletes. But once you’ve found a winner, you’ll know it.

The right pair of compression shorts offers support while also allowing you to move freely and comfortably. Also, the right pair means you aren’t thinking about them while you play.

How to Wear Compression Shorts for Basketball

When it comes to basketball, players wear compression shorts as a baselayer under their uniform shorts. In other words, the snug and stretchy compression shorts are put on first and worn right against the skin with the basketball shorts then worn over the top.

The vast majority of basketball players wear compression shorts with a leg length that is shorter than the leg length of their uniform shorts.

So, not only are the compression shorts worn underneath the basketball shorts but also shorter in length, further reducing their visibility.

Female basketball player wearing compression shorts under uniform.

When playing basketball your compression shorts will only make minimal appearances while you’re active (running, jumping, shuffling, getting up from court, etc.).

The freer fit of your basketball shorts may reveal the snug fit of your compression shorts. But this is typically just the bottom few inches of the compression short legs that are visible.