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10 Best Knee Sleeves, Pads & Braces for Basketball (of 2021)

If you tune in to any NBA game you might have noticed knee sleeves on the legs of almost all of the players. One thing that all great players keep consistent is that they use something (sleeves, braces, pads or shorts) to cover and protect their knees. Basketball is a sport hard on the body and, fortunately, some of the best knee sleeves, pads and braces are available to players of all levels (whether you play competitively, professionally or recreationally).

Editors Choices

Preview
Best Overall
Nike Pro Combat Hyperstrong Knee Sleeve (L, Black/Volt)
Best Price
Knee Compression Sleeve for Men & Women - Knee Brace Support for Running, Jogging, Sports, Joint Pain Relief, Arthritis & Injury Recovery - Knee Braces for Knee Pain - Single Wrap Large, Red
B-Driven Sports - Arm Compesssion Sleeves - Great For Golfers Elbow Pain, Swelling, Tendonitis, & Ideal For Workouts, Cross Fit Training. - Med White Streaks
Title
Nike Pro Combat Hyperstrong Knee Sleeve (L, Black/Volt)
Knee Compression Sleeve for Men & Women - Knee Brace Support for Running, Jogging, Sports, Joint Pain Relief, Arthritis & Injury Recovery - Knee Braces for Knee Pain - Single Wrap Large, Red
B-Driven Sports - Arm Compesssion Sleeves - Great For Golfers Elbow Pain, Swelling, Tendonitis, & Ideal For Workouts, Cross Fit Training. - Med White Streaks
Benefit 1
Premium Nike brand.
4-way stretch capability and compression.
Unique design for trendy players.
Benefit 2
Tight fit without restricting movement.
Compression sleeves offer pain relief and support for minor injuries.
Range of color and size options.
Benefit 3
Good for compression and increasing blood flow.
Tight yet comfortable fit.
Moisture wicking technology.
Best Overall
Preview
Nike Pro Combat Hyperstrong Knee Sleeve (L, Black/Volt)
Title
Nike Pro Combat Hyperstrong Knee Sleeve (L, Black/Volt)
Benefit 1
Premium Nike brand.
Benefit 2
Tight fit without restricting movement.
Benefit 3
Good for compression and increasing blood flow.
Best Price
Preview
Knee Compression Sleeve for Men & Women - Knee Brace Support for Running, Jogging, Sports, Joint Pain Relief, Arthritis & Injury Recovery - Knee Braces for Knee Pain - Single Wrap Large, Red
Title
Knee Compression Sleeve for Men & Women - Knee Brace Support for Running, Jogging, Sports, Joint Pain Relief, Arthritis & Injury Recovery - Knee Braces for Knee Pain - Single Wrap Large, Red
Benefit 1
4-way stretch capability and compression.
Benefit 2
Compression sleeves offer pain relief and support for minor injuries.
Benefit 3
Tight yet comfortable fit.
Preview
B-Driven Sports - Arm Compesssion Sleeves - Great For Golfers Elbow Pain, Swelling, Tendonitis, & Ideal For Workouts, Cross Fit Training. - Med White Streaks
Title
B-Driven Sports - Arm Compesssion Sleeves - Great For Golfers Elbow Pain, Swelling, Tendonitis, & Ideal For Workouts, Cross Fit Training. - Med White Streaks
Benefit 1
Unique design for trendy players.
Benefit 2
Range of color and size options.
Benefit 3
Moisture wicking technology.

*Details last updated on 2021-01-24

The Top Basketball Knee Sleeve, Pad & Brace Buyers Guide

Best knee sleeves for basketball.

Protective gear for the knees is important for several reasons when playing basketball. The key reasons why one might wear such gear include:

  • To help any chronic knee pain caused by the strain put on the knees whilst playing basketball.
  • To minimize the risk of bruising if you fall on the court or if your knees collide with any other players.
  • To offer additional support following any serious knee injuries (like ACL tears).

The gear that you buy will depend heavily on your personal wants, needs and preferences. You want the product that will offer you maximum support and protection without effecting your comfort. Read this guide in its entirety before deciding to make sure that you have considered everything properly before ordering.

10 Best Basketball Knee Sleeves, Pads & Braces

1. UFlex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve for Men & Women

*Details last updated on 2021-01-24

The simple, large single wrap knee compression sleeve for sports hobbyists and competitive players. This option is good for those interested in jogging, tennis, cycling, basketball and more! Please consult the size chart on the product page which can help you find the right size and fit for you.

Material

The lightweight material in this knee sleeve provides you with a smooth fit. It offers cushion softness with a 3-layer 3D knit featuring a 4-way stretch for the ultimate in moveability. The breathable nylon mesh and spandex help keep moisture at bay, while the double silicone grip makes the sleeve secure with no slippage issues. 

Use

The UFlex knee sleeve has a comfortable design to provide your knee with the support it needs as you run down the court and jump for a slam dunk. It helps take the stress and strain off your knee to give the joint some relief. The firm compression will help to alleviate any inflammation issues that could lead to pain or discomfort. This makes it one of the best knee sleeves for basketball on the market today.

Positives
  • Lightweight material helps keeping you moving fast on the court whilst offering ample knee protection.
  • 3D knit and 4-way stretch for ultimate flexibility and moveability.
  • Breathable materials to prevent sweat build up and increase hygiene.
  • Anti-inflammation technology.
Negatives
  • One size means you can’t adapt the sleeve to your specific fit.
  • Great for compression but softer materials mean this option isn’t best suited for those looking to prevent knee bruising.

2. Nike Pro Combat Knee Sleeve

*Details last updated on 2021-01-24

Nike is a powerhouse brand in the world of basketball. The brands quality products are sported by professional players all round the world and are known for offering high performance, comfort and reliability.

Material

The Nike Pro Combat Knee Sleeve is an Ariaprene material made to warm and support. It also has 11% spandex for a superior fit and 10% silicone. Overall, the materials are lightweight and breathable, making this sleeve work well when you are actively playing ball. It features an elastic binding and silicone grip to ensure the sleeve stays in place as you play.

Use

The knee sleeve has a contoured design for maximum movement without too much compression. It provides superior support where you need it that won’t restrict movement but keeps pain and swelling at bay. It also does an excellent job keeping your muscles warm for the quick movements you’ll make on the court.

Positives
  • Premium Nike brand product.
  • Keep your legs warm and supported.
  • Light and streamlined for maximum performance.
  • Elastic fit for maximum comfort.
Negatives
  • Some comment that you need be careful when sizing them as they can run tight in some places but loose in others.

3. B-Driven Sports Padded Compression Arm or Knee Sleeves for Basketball

*Details last updated on 2021-01-24

The funky, unique design of these knee sleeves might be the first thing you notice about them, but the smooth and soft fit of them will surely be the second! The perfect option for more unique players looking for high-performance gear that offers maximum performance.

Material

The B-Driven sleeve features unique material technology with a closed-cell foam pad. It has a bone shape design machine pressed into the foam for limited separation. On top of the foam is a compression material with 5-thread flatlock seams for durability and a beaded elastic band to eliminate slipping.

Use

The single-molded design provides maximum support with no separation. It provides a firm compression made to last a whole game. It’s thick to allow for complete protection when you are in an intense game. Plus, the seams lay smooth to eliminate issues with chafing.

Positives
  • Cool and unique design.
  • Comfortable fit around the knees, shins and thighs (or elbows, biceps and triceps if being worn on the arms).
  • Beaded elastic band for maximum security and fit.
  • Smooth seam design to minimize chafing.
Negatives
  • Some sizing issues reported, please consult the size guide carefully.

4. Shock Doctor Knee Brace Compression Sleeve

*Details last updated on 2021-01-24

As the name suggests, the Shock Doctor knee brace is a great option for those looking for additional knee and leg support whilst playing intense games. The brace can help relief chronic pain whilst on the court and be used to minimize the risk of sensitive joint and tendon injuries also.

Material

The knee sleeve from Shock Doctor is free from latex, using N-Tex neoprene to provide breathable support. The thin material feels like a second skin for a complete range of motion. The sleeve also has a padded patella buttress and uses a 4-way stretch lycra mesh for ventilation behind the knee.

Use

If pain has you sitting on the bench, this sleeve will help stabilize your knee and increase blood flow to reduce pain and swelling. It helps to prevent further injury and fits naturally due to the curved design. The sleeve protects the knee cap while supporting it with padding and stabilizer stays.

Positives
  • Great for those who have gone through knee rehabilitation/need additional support.
  • Helps to minimizes risk of injury.
  • Great ventilation thanks to 4-way stretch lycra mesh material.
  • Added stability, blood flow and pain reduction.
  • Protects your knees from scratches and bruises following falls and/or player collisions.
Negatives
  • Some comments on how the gear stretches after intense games.
  • As with other products, getting the fit perfect can be challenging. Keep in mind what you are buying for (injury recovery or general support) as this could influence how tight/snug you want your brace to fit.

5. McDavid 429X Knee Brace

*Details last updated on 2021-01-24

The strong velcro straps are great for holding this premium quality latex-free brace in firmly in place. The slightly higher price reflects the strength and protection offered by this adjustable sleeve.

Material

The McDavid knee brace uses neoprene for comfort and thermal therapy in the main portion of the brace. It is latex-free as well. The brace also has bound edges for maximum comfort, and the elastic cross straps allow for adjustment and support. In addition, it has hinges on the side for adjustment and fit purposes.

Use

Stability is key with this brace to help you reduce injuries and recover from previous issues. It has an open buttress with padding to support the knee cap. The straps adjust to fit the brace perfectly to your leg and ensure you get support in the right areas. The material provides warmth to keep your knee ready for movement as you run the court.

Positives
  • Adjustable velcro straps allow for a more comfortable and secure fit.
  • Crossing elastic straps offers greater rotational and collateral ligament support.
  • A 360 degree open and padded buttress effectively supports the knee patella.
  • High-grade materials mean you won’t experience skin irritation and discomfort whilst playing.
  • Good for general knee support and rehabilitation/recovery.
Negatives
  • The pad comes at a slightly higher price than other options.

6. Sable Knee Brace Compression Sleeve

*Details last updated on 2021-01-24

One of the best knee braces/pads for basketball, the Sable compression sleeve is good for those who suffer from swelling and soreness following an intense game or workout. The equipment is good not just for basketball, but for others sports too. They are also highly affordable!

Material

The Sable knee sleeve is a blended material that features a spiral weave and combines elastic, nylon, and spandex. It is breathable and incredibly flexible. The material provides a soft fit with maximum stretch while also being supportive.

Use

The sleeve helps to equalize pressure for advanced protection and support as you move around during a game. It also reduces swelling due to the tight fit. It will help you recover from injuries and help prevent new ones regardless of how hard you play on the court.

Positives
  • Helps with swelling and soreness issues.
  • Good option for a wider range of sports including basketball.
  • Breathable and flexible material which won’t limit movement.
  • Advanced protection and support.
Negatives
  • Limited color options with only black and yellow designs available (at the time of checking).

7. Pure Support Knee Brace

*Details last updated on 2021-01-24

A great option for Crossfit and any more intense basketball games. A durable, easy-to-use and comfortable brace for players of all levels. Commenters note that it has helped them with things meniscus, PCL and MCL tears.

Material

This Pure Support sleeve uses a 3D circular knitting technology with elastic yarn. It’s 32% spandex and 68% polyamide. The fabric is breathable and wicks away moisture. The sleeve also has a non-slip grip band made of silicone gel.

Use

The sleeve uses graduated compression to offer you better support and circulation, improving healing and preventing strain. It speeds recovery while allowing you to keep moving. The flexibility lets you move as needed while playing a game but gives you the support you need to avoid injury and pain.

Positives
  • Good for even the most intense of games.
  • Durable, simple to use and reliable.
  • A good option for those with a range of injuries and for general support.
  • Supports your joints without compromising on comfort.
  • Strong knee pads for bruise protection.
Negatives
  • Some suggest not wearing it all day due to friction and skin irritation concerns.

8. BLITZU Power + Compression Knee Brace for Joint Pain, Meniscus Tears & More

*Details last updated on 2021-01-24

A specialist compression sleeve for a range of knee and joint injuries. Gear like this can help you take your training to the next level and really maximise your on court performance. Wearing them can also impact your rest and recovery.

Material

The BLITZU Power+ knee sleeve uses the company’s unique performance fabric. It is a circular knit that is moisture-wicking, breathable, washable, and antibacterial. It also provides UV protection and ensures the sleeve stays put without slipping. The flat seams help to alleviate chafing.

Use

The sleeve helps with pain and stiffness while improving circulation and decreasing vibrations. It is flexible and warms your muscles to keep you ready to go throughout the game. It is comfortable enough to wear all day, so it won’t get in your way or slow you down on the court.

Positives
  • Specialist brace for a range of basketball injuries.
  • Allows you to play in comfort and take your training to the next level.
  • Easy chafing and sweat build up.
  • Decrease shock from vibrations and improve circulation.
  • Aid in your rest and recovery routines.
Negatives
  • Only one design option.

9. Nike Pro Closed-Patella Knee Sleeve 2.0

*Details last updated on 2021-01-24

Judging by some comments about this product, these knee pads are best for general training and bruises/scratch prevention. The cotton, thin design allows for incredible comfort and keeps the knees warm on the court.

Material

The Nike Pro Closed-Patella Knee Sleeve 2.0 is lightweight and breathable. It is a mixture of fabrics that support and compress. The sleeve is 40% nylon and 34% styrene-butadiene rubber. It features polyester, chloroprene rubber, and spandex for ultimate stretch that also stabilizes your knee. It is machine washable.

Use

The sleeve has an easy to put on design with a focus on comfortable fitting compression to provide you game-long support. It offers compression to give you stability while also helping with blood flow and healing. You can wear it during a game without fear of slipping or wear it after the game to aid in your recovery.

Positives
  • Good general training option.
  • Keeps the knees and upper legs warm on colder training days.
  • Comfortable, soft cotton material.
  • Lightweight and breathable materials.
Negatives
  • Not the best option for more specialist support and recovery needs.

10. Bucwild Sports Knee Pads/Padded Compression Knee Sleeves

*Details last updated on 2021-01-24

These knee pads are great for players of all ages with junior and adult size options available. They are great for knee protection (particularly from bumps, falls and scratches) and sweat absorption.

Material

The Bucwild Sports knee sleeve is an EVA padded foam sleeve that has an ergonomic design to fit your knee precisely. The foam is 10mm thick. The rest of the sleeve is a moisture-wicking material that is soft and movable due to the 4-way stretch construction. It also has a non-slip band along the top.

Use

The sleeve has a long fit that provides support for your knee and calf. It helps keep you cool and free of moisture so that it won’t slip. The compression helps to improve your circulation and increase healing and recovery even. The sleeve also provides protection to your knee due to the foam pad, which can help you avoid further damage and pain. This makes it one of the best knee sleeves for basketball.

Positives
  • Range of size options for youths and adults.
  • Good for scratch and bump protection.
  • Thick, secure and protection material.
  • Non-slip band to keep the brace secure in place.
  • Multiple color options.
Negatives
  • Some comment that they preferred the older design.

The Difference Between Knee Pads, Sleeves & Braces

Knee pads, sleeves and braces are similar but each has a more specific and slightly different use. The below information will help you decide which piece of equipment you need depending on why you are buying it.

Knee Sleeves

A knee sleeve will usually be tight yet flexible. The focus on compression which helps to increase blood flow, reduce stress and pain and improves proprioception (the central nervous system actively recognising the knee joints).

Ideally you would wear a knee sleeve to help prevent injuries or if you suffer from chronic pain and inflammation. You will want to use something stronger if you are recovering from a more serious injury such as an ACL sleeve.

Knee Braces

As the name suggests, knee braces can be better at preventing injuries whilst playing basketball. Sleeves help with compression and to reduce swelling more than anything else but braces provide real support for the anterior knee and patella. If you are concerned about hyperextension and instability, a brace will be a better option for you. They are also likely to be better if using post-injury (for more effective recovery and to minimize the risk of re-injury). It is important to speak with your doctor and/or rehabilitation coach/PT to find the right knee brace for you.

Knee Pads

Knee pads, most often associated with younger and more aggressive players, are less about support of the ligaments and joints and more about protecting your knee caps from damage following falls of bumps into other players (or the ground). You will most likely have noticed top NBA players like Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant sporting knee pads in their games.

Which Should I Choose?

If you are unsure on which type of gear you need, you should speak to your licensed basketball coach and/or doctor. In general though, the below rules are a good start.

If you are trying to prevent chronic pain and/or swelling, go with a compression knee sleeve.

When you are recovering from an injury (e.g. ACL or MCL) and want to prevent another one, go with a knee brace and speak with your doctor on what would work best.

If you play fast paced games and/or bump knees a lot (with other players or the floor), knee pads are the best option for you.

Sizing Your Knee Gear

Knee pads, sleeves and braces are only as good as how well they fit. An ill fitting knee brace will offer little to no extra stability and a knee pad to small or large will only protect your shins or upper thighs.

Always consult the size chart for the particular option that you are looking at and make sure you have a tape measure to hand to ensure the best fit.

  1. Measure the circumference of your knee (approx. 2 inches below your knee cap/patella).
  2. Measure the circumference of your ankle (approx. 1 inch above the center of your ankle bone tip).
  3. Measure your thighs circumference (approx. 9 inches above the center of your knee cap/patella).
  4. Compare your measurements to the size chart of the product you want to buy.

Review Criteria

Materials

The materials used to construct your knee pads, brace or sleeve will affect how strong, durable and useful it is. For example, Spandex is highly flexible and can be tight when fit properly making it a good option for compression sleeves. However, stronger materials will be needed to provide added stability when shopping for a knee brace.

Use

When reviewing each product on this list, we have tried to identify the ideal use of each knee brace, sleeve or pad. Use this information, alongside your own experience with any knee gear or knowledge on your own injuries, to decide on which option is best for you.

Price

Fortunately knee gear for basketball is rarely expensive. Of course, if you are buying a more specialized brace to support your following a serious knee injury, you might find you have to pay more for the best quality possible. We believe that all of the items featured on this list are affordable and offer great value for money.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do knee sleeves help in basketball?

Knee sleeves can help those who suffer from chronic pain and/or swelling whilst playing (or following a session). If you are more comfortable on and off the court, you will be able to better focus on the game at hand. This means that yes, knee sleeves can help your basketball skills too.

Should I wear a knee brace while playing basketball?

Knee injuries like ACL and MCL tears are amongst the most common basketball injuries. The game involves a lot of running, jumping and even colliding with other players so protecting your delicate joints and ligaments is vital for long term health. If you want to prevent injuries and/or help your recovery following one, you should seriously consider wearing a knee brace whist playing.

How do you protect your knees for basketball?

Besides wearing a brace, sleeve or pad (depending on why you are wearing it), you can protect your knees whilst playing basketball by properly warming up, cooling down and stretching. Exercise caution when you experience any knee injury and allow your body enough time to recover between games.

What do NBA players wear on their knees?

Most NBA players use soft knee braces to prevent injuries, compress their joints and support their ligaments. You are more likely to see players with previous serious injuries sporting a brace than a sleeve.

Is basketball bad for the knees?

Basketball involves a lot of jumping, twisting, turning, stopping and starting. As such, it can be taxing on the knees and back. Whilst basketball in and of itself is not bad for the knees, potential injuries you could sustain whilst playing are. So, look after them and invest in the proper gear to avoid future injuries!

Why do my knees hurt so bad after basketball?

Some players will experience what is known as ‘patellar tendonitis’ which can cause pain the knees following a game of basketball. It causes inflammation and can result in pain following chronic and repetitive jumping and/or exertion of the knees.

What is the most common knee injury in basketball?

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) tears are some of the most common orthopedic injuries among basketball players. The sensitive joints and ligaments in and surrounding the knees are commonly sprained or torn whilst playing regularly.

How tight should a knee sleeve be?

Knee sleeves need to be fairly tight to properly compress and stabalize the knees. You don’t want them too tight though and if they are so tight that they cause you discomfort or limits your range of motion, you should buy a size larger.

Conclusion

To conclude this buyers guide, we recommend that you consider all of the above information when shopping for the best knee sleeves for basketball. Consult with a coach or doctor if you are still unsure on which is the best option for you. Remember to try on your sleeve as soon as you receive it and send it back if it doesn’t fit properly.

Sources

International Basketball Federation (FIBA), National Team Competition – Equipment Restrictions, Accessed on 28th December 2020.

Jake Dennon

Jake Dennon

I am an avid sports enthusiast who has been fortunate enough to train with some of the best athletes and coaches in the world.

As a child, I had a keen interest in football (soccer) and regularly played with my friends and for my school. We had an ex England ace coaching us at one point and he really motivated me to make sports a big part of my life.

Moving into my teenage years I tried everything from basketball to weight lifting and everything in between. I was lucky enough to train weekly at a local tennis club who's head coach was a at one point the 9th best player in India and within the top 100 ranked players in the world.

The combat sport coaches I have been trained by have also trained some of the top fighters in the industry. All of these brilliant trainers (and all the ones in between) have shown me just how rewarding keeping fit and healthy can be.

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