How to Wear a Cup When Playing Football

Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio - Wisconsin v Oregon

All football players wear helmets for head protection, while only a few don rigid cups (testicular guards). Wisconsin Badgers’ running back Montee Ball narrowly escaped an excruciatingly painful blow to his privates when he carried the ball in a flying leap over Oregon Ducks’ John Boyett’s head during the 2012 Rose Bowl. Things could have been ugly had Ball’s crotch not cleared the free safety’s helmet by mere millimeters. Things did turn ugly for Seahawks’ tight end Jerramy Stevens when he received a well-planted knee squarely to the groin from Raiders’ defensive end Tyler Brayton in 2006. Avoid public embarrassment and immense personal pain by protecting your own family jewels with a properly fitting athletic cup.

Choose a slim, curved, banana-type cup, which is contoured to your body shape and the best style for football. These are typically retailed in boy’s, intermediate and men’s or small, medium and large sizes. Pick one that fits you well. An undersized cup won’t protect you adequately, and one that’s too large will slither around while you’re wearing it.

Pull on your snug-fitting underwear briefs. This will keep the cup from chafing your skin. Loose-fitting boxer shorts will wad up under the cup and irritate you.

Put on a jock strap, also known as an athletic supporter, and settle it low on your hips. Slip the elastic in the back under your buttocks. It should feel snug, but not tight enough to be uncomfortable. The purpose of the athletic supporter is to hold your genitals close to your body. It has a pocket to accommodate a cup, which will absorb impact to this delicate area and transmit it to your more resilient pubic bone.

Insert the cup into the pocket in the front of the jock strap, narrow end down. Move it around and adjust it so that it encases your genitals snugly but comfortably. Secure the elastic, Velcro or snap closure to hold the cup in place and keep it from slipping around and pinching you.

Add a pair of compression shorts for extra support, if you wish. Compression shorts help prevent groin muscle and hamstring pulls, and add a little extra padding to the genital area.

Put your uniform or other clothing on over the protective gear.

Move around briskly to check the cup’s fit. If it pinches you anywhere or slips around, adjust it a little tighter. If this doesn’t help, you may need a different size.


Some guys like to wear compression shorts instead of or in addition to briefs under the athletic supporter and cup to prevent irritation.

Some compression shorts have built-in pouches for cups. If you’re using this type, you won’t need to add a separate jock strap.

Clean the cup according to the manufacturer’s recommendations following each use to prevent it from harboring bacteria.


Wearing a cup is a smart safety measure, even if you’re not required to do so. A direct blow to your genitals can have serious medical consequences.