How to Dress to Play Basketball

Two street basketball players on the basketball court

If you try to play basketball in street clothes, you might find your movements restricted. Playing well on the basketball court feels good, but playing well and looking good at the same time feels even better. The game has its own culture and appropriate attire, so wear the right clothes to the court out of respect and to perform your best. You'll find that the gear centers around on-court mobility, freeing you up to make the best moves.

The Must-Haves

The stop and go action of the game -- blending aerobic and anaerobic exercise -- generates a lot of heat and sweat. Players wear light athletic clothing to stay cool and mobile during play. Specially designed shorts with stretchy waist bands give you movability while staying light on your body. Shorts are made of either cotton, polyester or synthetic moisture-wicking materials. The most common shorts are mesh and made of polyester. You can wear any light shirt to a pickup game, but regulation games are generally played with a polyester mesh sleeveless jersey. And players take pride in their basketball shoes, featuring heavy ankle support and thick soles with specialized traction. Wear them with tight-fitting athletic socks.

Optional Accessories

Some players choose to wear sweat bands around their wrists, heads or forearms to keep the sweat off their palms, out of their eyes or to wipe their face during play. Compressed muscles move quicker, so you can choose to wear tight-fitting compression shorts, leg wraps or arm bands. Some players wear goggles, ankle braces, elbow or knees pads or finger tape for protection against injury. Men may choose to wear a jockstrap for protection as well. And you can wear whatever you want over your basketball clothes -- sweatshirt, warm-up pants, non-basketball shoes, hat -- only to change for the game once you're courtside.