Basketball Buying Guide: How to Choose Arm and Leg Sleeves

Discover what to look for in compression and padded sleeves and how they could help elevate your game.   

October 05, 2017

When a basketball player chooses their gear, it has to be right. It has to perform well in game-clinching situations, help the player feel like they can make the clutch play and, of course, it has to look good.

Basketball arm and leg sleeves are no different.

Arm sleeves are accessories that typically run from the wrist up to the bicep. Leg sleeves, meanwhile, can stretch from your thigh down to the calf. There are even sleeves made specifically for your calf and knees.


Some players simply like the feel of sleeves. While they are made to fit snuggly to your body, they’re also lightweight and breathable so you can remain cool under pressure. Some varieties even have moisture-wicking fabric that can help keep you dry when the game gets heated. Some arm and leg sleeves even come designed with compression technology.

Hey, let's be honest: athletes like to look good and sleeves can also be a fashion statement. A number of pros and college players wear arm and leg sleeves on the court, and younger players love to emulate the same style as their hardwood heroes. These sleeves come in a variety of colors and designs, allowing you to find one that will match your personal style.


When looking for sleeves, you’ll have to decide if you want to go with padded or unpadded options. If you’re a player who is likely to dive to the court for a loose ball, a standard sleeve could be beneficial in helping to prevent scrapes or friction burns from the court.

But some sleeves are made with extra padding. In arm sleeves, you’ll typically see this around the elbow and in leg sleeves padding is normally around the knee. The material used in the padding is designed to help absorb impact, which could be beneficial if you’re a player battling for rebounds in the post, driving through traffic or run a chance of taking a fall to the ground.

So, which do you go with? It all comes down to personal preference. If you think the extra padding could benefit your game, go with it. But some players will find a standard arm or leg sleeve best fits their needs.


Before buying a sleeve, you’ll want to make sure you have the right size. They should be snug but not tight. Specific sizing may vary by brand, but use the following measuring steps as a guide to help find the right size for you:

  • Arm sleeves: Measure the circumference of your bicep, elbow and the fullest part of your forearm.
  • Leg sleeves: While standing, measure the circumference of your calf, knee and ankle.
  • Calf sleeves: While standing, measure the length of your calf and the circumference of your calf, knee and ankle.

Arm and leg sleeves are a basketball accessory some players never want to be without on the court. They can add a protective layer to your traditional uniform and give you an extra shot of confidence while playing. Now that you’re suited up, you’re ready to dominate the court this basketball season.