How to Tape an Ankle for Basketball

man with sprained ankle image by Joann Cooper from

Taping the ankle is done by many players before basketball games and practices; it may stabilize or prevent an injury. Players tape their ankles because it gives them confidence they will remain injury free when they are competing their hardest. Players who have a history of ankle sprains benefit most from taping, as the ankle never fully recovers after the initial sprain.

Shave the ankle. Shaving the ankle will prevent the tape from sticking to it upon removal. The ankle should be shaved at least 12 hours before taping to ensure that the skin is not overly sensitive.

Apply pre-wrap. Pre-wrap is a roll of thin elastic rather than a tape. It is applied to the ankle and the foot before the tape. Using pre-wrap ensures that the tape is not applied directly to the skin, making it easier to remove. Pre-wrap should be applied in a figure-eight pattern from above the ankle to down near the toes.

Apply the anchor. The anchor is a piece of tape wrapped around the leg above the ankle and near the top of the pre-wrap. The anchor serves as a place to attach other parts of the tape job.

Attach the stirrups. The stirrups run along the leg, past the ankle, under the heel and back up the other side of the leg. The stirrups start and finish on the anchor. Three stirrups should be applied.

Wrap the ankle with figure sixes and a half-heel lock to get maximum stability. Start on the inside of the foot and go to the outside of the foot with the figure sixes. Return back to the inside after crossing over the front of the foot. Two figure sixes can be applied with a piece of tape to lock them in place. The half-heel lock stabilizes the heel area. Start it by wrapping tape around the area just above the ankle. On the third pass through, wrap the tape under the heel and back up the other side.

Overwrap the ankle. Apply a layer of tape over the already existing tape and pre-wrap. The overwrap serves to further protect and stabilize the ankle.


Adding additional tape to the mid-foot area can increase the stability of the tape job.


Tape may limit your range of motion when playing basketball.