What Do Basketball Players Wear Under Their Jerseys?

If you are a basketball enthusiast and love to watch NBA games, you must have noticed your favorite players wearing double layers of clothing.

Any sport, including basketball, is bound to make players sweat, so the lighter their clothing is, the better. But then, why do basketball players layer clothing, and what do basketball players wear under their jerseys? 

Many basketball players wear layers under their jerseys like compression shirts, cotton t-shirts, and v-necks. Layering helps the players to stay sweat-free while playing basketball matches by absorbing sweat and allowing the air to dry off excess moisture on the skin. Thus, enabling the athlete to play intense matches comfortably.

Why Do Basketball Players Wear Under Their Jerseys?

There are three kinds of clothing a player can wear under their vest or jersey:

Compression Shirts

Compression shirts are made with sweat-absorbent fabric so the players can stay dry and odor-free while they play basketball

Most compression shirts are also lightweight, airy, and ensure free movement. Since these shirts have the best moisture soaking properties,  they are the number 1 choice for all professional players.


V-necks are popular among many sports players. Their design matches perfectly with the neckline of a basketball jersey, giving a stylish touch.  

The open neck ensures enough air leaks into the fabric to dry the sweat. Most undershirts have a V-neck on the front and a circular neckline towards the back. These shirts do not peek out from under the jersey, maintaining the players’ overall look while they play.

Cotton T-Shirt

A regular cotton T-shirt can also be worn under a basketball jersey. Most college students prefer cotton t-shirts as it gives a casual look and is not very revealing.

If one decides to wear a t-shirt under their jersey, ensure that it is 60 to 100 percent pure cotton, soft, and airy.

Why Do Basketball Players Wear Shirts Under Their Jerseys?

Here are some reasons why basketball players wear shirts under their jerseys:

  • Wearing a shirt gives a formal look and is less revealing.
  • High-tech polyester or wicking fabric is sweat-absorbent, soaking in excess moisture and preventing bad body odor.
  • Cotton can absorb sweat only to some extent, so compression shirts are the go-to choice for professional players to prevent clamminess.
  • A compression shirt ensures the body temperature stays maintained even when the player takes a break or sits down at the bench.
  • Shirts also prevent itchiness, skin irritation, heat, and sweat from annoying the players.
  • Moisture absorption prevents stickiness and bad odor and ensures the player stays comfortable and dry during the game.
  • Double layered shirts and high-quality padded compression shirts prevent injuries to sensitive body parts during the game. 
  • A compression shirt supports the chest muscles and is believed to increase oxygen and blood flow in the body, thus, reducing symptoms of fatigue.

Are NBA Players Allowed to Wear a T-Shirt Under Their Jerseys?

Initially, basketball players were not allowed to wear a shirt under their jersey until Patrick Ewing played with a shirt under his vest as the center for Georgetown.

Patrick had the flu and only wore the shirt to prevent his symptoms from worsening. Most people noticed this, and basketball players soon followed in his footsteps.

After the game in 1983, Patrick continued wearing the T-shirt under his vest and quickly became a style inspiration for high school teams.

It caused a fashion uproar which eventually, after two decades, led to the NBA allowing players to wear shirts under their jerseys. 

Why Do Basketball Players Wear Vests?

Players wear vests or basketball singlets as they are tight-fitting. They allow free movement and do not hinder swift turns, jumps, running, or speedy moves.

Jumping high and shooting the ball from far away also requires the fabric to be stretchy. The breathable quality of these vests ensures the body dries up quickly, bad odor is prevented, and the player stays cool.

These vests are customized for the teams, allowing the coach and viewers to identify each player on a basketball court easily. Unique numbers and solid colors also allow officials to track the score and keep a team record.

Why Do Basketball Players Tuck Their Shirts In?

Basketball players tuck their shirts in as it is a requirement by most referees and not following this rule during the match is, in fact, a violation. 

NBA rules state that a player that walks into the court with an untucked jersey calls a play delay infraction upon themselves. This means that if the infraction or mistake is repeated, it will be considered a technical foul and granted to the opposition.

Tucking the jersey in also shows professionalism. It highlights that a player has proper attire and is focused and ready to play.

A tucked-in shirt also prevents the fabric from tangling into surrounding objects or another player’s jersey, which can cause a hindrance during the game.

Related Questions

Should You Wear A Shirt Under A Basketball Jersey?

Even though it is a personal choice, you can wear a shirt under your basketball jersey. Even the NBA allows it. Wearing a shirt helps absorb excessive sweat, regulates body temperature, prevents skin irritation, allergies, and injuries, supports chest muscles, and makes you appear professional.

Can NBA Players Wear T-shirts Under Their Jerseys?

While the NBA initially did not allow it, t-shirts quickly became popular, and today players are surely allowed to wear them under their jerseys. Wearing an undershirt helps keep the body cool, gives a professional look, activates chest muscles, and even prevents injuries.

What Type Of Shirt Do NBA Players Wear Under Their Jerseys?

NBA or professional players prefer to wear a compression shirt under their jerseys. The shirt’s wicking fabric soaks moisture and keeps the body cool during gameplay. Padding inside the shirt supports the chest muscles and improves oxygen and blood flow. Not only this, it can even prevent injuries to sensitive body parts.

Key Takeaways 

  • Basketball players can wear any of the 3 shirts under their jerseys.
  • College students often wear V-necks and cotton T-shirts, while professionals prefer wearing compression shirts.
  • A compression shirt soaks sweat, prevents bad odor and skin irritation, promotes oxygen flow, reduces chest muscle fatigue, protects sensitive body parts, and even regulates body temperature. 
  • Compression shirts give off a professional/casual look and are less revealing than vests worn alone.
  • A vest must be tucked in during an official NBA game as this can lead to delay of play infraction.
  • NBA players were not always allowed to wear jerseys. The first player to bring this into fashion was Patrick Ewing.
  • NBA vests help officials, coaches, and viewers identify players by their shirt color and number.
  • NBA vests are tight-fitting, stretchy, and do not hinder gameplay.

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