Looking for a last-minute Christmas gift for a young basketball player?
Maybe try to find a compression or padded leg sleeve.
If high school basketball in York and Adams counties is any indication, leg sleeves are a fast-growing fad in the sport. At just about every game played in the area this year, several players sport white or black sleeves that cover much of their legs. Some stretch all the way down to their ankles, while others end just below the knee, and many players wear sleeves with built-in knee pads.
“I had a knee injury earlier in the season and started wearing one," said Delone Catholic guard Tavian Dorsey, one of the few players that wears a sleeve only on one leg. "It’s feeling better now, but I saw (Los Angeles Lakers guard) D’Angelo Russell wears one, so I just kind of stuck with it. I like the look.”
Teammate Logan Alexander, who sports padded sleeves on both legs, agrees that seeing NBA players wearing them is a big reason they've become so popular. Many college players wear them too, he added.
But what exactly do these sleeves do besides add a new accessory to the high school basketball uniform?
“From an injury prevention standpoint, there’s really no benefit that I’m aware of," Delone Catholic trainer Jenn Sherdel said of the sleeves that don't include pads. "It’s more about compression, which increases their sense of stability so they feel stronger. It’s also moisture-wicking, so it keeps away sweat."
Delone Catholic forwards Bryce Mundorff and Alex Maitland, who both wear sleeves without pads, said the compression also helps reduce cramping and shin splints during games.
"Now if they’re padded, it obviously helps prevent contusions or bruises," Sherdel said. "You’ll also see if someone’s wearing a brace, they’ll put one under the brace for the moisture-wicking, and it could help prevent chafing.”
The padded versions of the sleeves have grown in popularity in boys' basketball, but have become especially prevalent in girls' basketball where many players sustain bumps and bruises from the physical nature of the game.
“I remembered a couple years ago, they’d be bruised from here to here," South Western coach Kevin Klunk said of his players, gesturing from his thigh to below his knee. "They were so swollen, they’d have bruises on bruises.”
Several of Klunk's players now wear McDavid knee sleeves, which extend to a few inches below their ankles and have a pad built into the area around the knee.
“I always drive a lot, and I go for the foul a lot," South Western guard Jacey Shipley said. "Last year at Dallastown, I hit the floor and my knee started bleeding. My dad always told me that I needed to wear them, and after that I was like, ‘Ok, Dad, you’re right, I probably should wear them.’”
Shipley's teammate Laykin Feeser doesn't play as aggressively as Shipley does on offense, but Feeser also appreciates the extra protection.
“I wear them for when I’m going for a loose ball and I dive, it protects my knees,” she said. "They’re not too thick, but they’re still comfortable.”