What Kind of Undershirts Do NBA Players Wear Under Jerseys?

The undershirts worn by NBA players are almost invisible under their jerseys, so most people watching don’t even notice that they’re wearing anything under their jerseys. For players, the undershirt is important for comfort during the game and for faster recovery. You are probably now wondering what kind of undershirts NBA players wear.

NBA basketball players are not allowed to wear an undershirt under their jersey due to rules. If they are recovering from an injury, they can wear specialised compression undershirts that provide compression and stabilise their shoulders. Most NBA players wear tank tops under their jerseys.

Do you want to know what kind of undershirts NBA players wear under their jerseys so you can wear them too? I’ll explain what kind of undershirts NBA players wear and how they improve their performance.

What kind of undershirts do NBA players wear?

Most NBA players wear the official NBA compression tank top underneath their jersey, which is a Nike compression tank top in either white or black (depending on the colour of the team’s jersey). In the case of injury treatment, NBA basketball players may wear a compression tank top with sleeves to stabilise their shoulders.

Anthy Davis wearing compression shirt for supoort of his shoulders.
Anthony Davis wearing compression shirt for supoort of his shoulders.

Tank tops are made to fit perfectly on the jersey, so you hardly notice it while watching the game. On match day, if players are wearing light colored jerseys, they must wear a white tank top, if they are wearing dark colored jerseys, they must wear a black tank top. The same applies to the choice of socks that NBA players are required to wear during the game.

NBA players have very little choice in what uniform they wear, due to the strict rules dictated by the NBA rulebook. Unlike college basketball players, who have more options and can wear a plain t-shirt under their jersey, which must be in the colors of the jersey they are wearing. Some NBA players who played college basketball in the past would like to be able to do the same in the NBA. One such example is former NBA All-Star centre Patrick Ewing.

Patrick Ewing wearing undershirt while playing for Georgetown college.
Patrick Ewing wanted to wear undershirt as he was while playing for Georgetown college.

Similar rules exist elsewhere in the world. When I was still playing semi-professional basketball in Europe, we were also not allowed to wear regular T-shirts under our jerseys, but only compression undershirts. Ordinary T-shirts are too loose and it is easy to get your fingers stuck in your opponent’s or teammate’s T-shirt and twist your finger. For the same reason, necklaces and bracelets are also prohibited when playing basketball.

Do NBA players wear anything under their jerseys?

Most NBA basketball players wear a compression undershirt under their jersey. Compression garments have become popular with athletes in recent years because they contribute to improved game play and speed up recovery during training/matches and after injury.

Michael Jordan wearing undershirt
Michael Jordan wearing undershirt

Basketball players used to wear plain t-shirts under their jerseys, but now this is banned and they can only wear compression tank tops. In NBA compression shirts can only be worn by players for medical reasons, to provide compression and support for their shoulders.

Do NBA players wear compression shirts?

NBA players wear compression shirts because they help prevent injuries and help them feel better and more rested while playing. Compression underwear is elasticated and fits the body perfectly, so it doesn’t distract players while they play.

Melo Ball wearing official Nike NBA compression tank top undershirt.
Melo Ball wearing official Nike NBA compression tank top undershirt.

NBA players and basketball players around the world wearing compression shirts is nothing new. This garment has been worn by basketball players for a very long time, but it reached its peak of popularity when Michael Jordan started wearing it. With the arrival of the new millennium, the NBA league has started to put more attention on basketball players’ equipment. Which can help with better recovery and more comfort during the game, which is very important as NBA players play more than 80 games in the regular season.

What do compression shirts do for basketball?

The compression undershirt reduces the chances of injury by warming up the muscles during play. Due to its elasticity, it promotes blood circulation throughout the body, which reduces muscle swelling. It is also important for comfort during play, as it protects the skin from rubbing the jersey and absorbs sweat, making the jersey drier, which makes it easier to play.

Small details in the garments such as the compression undershirt improve the basketabll players form and can affect the quality of their play.

  • It keeps muscles warm and reduces the chance of injury. For contact sports such as basketball, it is a good idea to wear a piece of clothing that hugs the body well and keeps it warm, which is especially useful when the player is resting on the bench.
  • It speeds up blood circulation and ensures faster recovery. NBA players have a demanding pace of games, so clothing and accessories for faster recovery are always desirable.
  • It prevents the jersey from rubbing against the skin and protects it from scratches and rashes. Unpleasant scratches quickly occur while playing basketball, as anyone who has ever played knows well.
  • Absorbs sweat and keeps the jersey dry. The feeling of a wet jersey on the skin is uncomfortable and makes it difficult to play as the sweat makes the jersey heavy. Players therefore wear an undershirt made of a quick-drying material so that sweat is not absorbed into the jersey and does not remain on the skin.

What kind of undershirts do NBA players wear? – Summary

Compression garments are popular with all athletes, including NBA players who wear compression underwear under their jerseys. Most of them wear the official tank top compression undershirt, but anyone who needs shoulder support for medical reasons wears a compression short-sleeved undershirt.

Players must match the colour of the compression under-shirt to the colour of the jersey they are playing in. If they are playing on home turf, they must wear light coloured jerseys with a white undershirt underneath. If playing away, they must wear dark coloured jerseys with a black compression undershirt underneath.

In the NCAA, the rules for wearing the jersey underneath the jersey are slightly less strict. Players can wear a t-shirt under their jersey, they just have to make sure that it matches the colour of their jersey.


My name is Gregor and I'm a sports and fashion enthusiast. Like you, I want my clothes to be good quality and comfortable. I hope my articles will help you choose the right underwear for you.

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