Why Do Athletes Wear Jockstraps?

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An athletic supporter, commonly referred to as a jockstrap, is a male undergarment intended to support and protect the male genitals while performing physical activities, namely contact sports. Unlike traditional men’s underwear, some jockstrap designs feature elastic waistbands and a small pocket in the front where protective gear, like a hard plastic athletic cup, can be placed.

The jockstrap was originally designed for use by bicycle jockeys, which is how the nickname developed. Proper athletic supporters for male athletes are required by most leagues of football, soccer, lacrosse, baseball and other high-impact sports to prevent serious injury to the groin area; however, many athletes are moving away from the traditional design as early as high school.

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Possible Injuries

Testicular Torsion

Testicular torsion is a rare problem that occurs when the testicle twists inside the scrotum. This cuts off blood flow through the spermatic cord and can result in death of the testicle.

Testicular torsion is considered a medical emergency. Although torsion is a result of a congenital condition that leaves men without the connective tissue that supports the testicles within the scrotum, and it can occur at any time, athletic supporters may reduce the risk of injury.

Blunt Trauma

The danger of blunt trauma is considered the main reason to wear a jockstrap with a front pouch where a cup can be placed. Many models allow for the placement of a hard, plastic cup that protects the testicles from impact.

Blunt trauma to the testicles can result in a series of complications, including rupture and internal bleeding. Chris Woolston, M.S., in writing for HealthDay, also warns that trauma could even cause testicular torsion.

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Requirements of the Sport

Jockstraps are available in a number of materials and cuts to allow for the best performance in various sports. Thick waistbands or moisture-controlling fabric may be unwanted or unnecessary to swimmers but desirable to football players because of their breathability.

Many professional leagues no longer require the traditional jockstraps and allow for the use of alternatives.


Compression shorts are preferred by many professional athletes, because they provide support, moisture control and a more comfortable fit with less of a chance of chafing. Many compression shorts are also available with a pocket for a protective cup.