How to Buy an Athletic Cup

When the game gets personal, make sure you own an athletic cup that provides both optimal comfort and an excellent fit.

December 13, 2016

Men understand that getting hit below the belt is a very unpleasant experience. Not only is it painful, but groin injuries can be especially serious. That’s why most male athletes who play contact sports have invested in the athletic cup since the turn of the 20th century. However, with recent advancements in protective sporting equipment, modern cups are much different than they were 100-plus years ago.


Today’s athletic cups are lightweight and designed to protect the testicles from impact during a game. Despite these benefits, shopping for cups can be difficult, especially if you’re a parent. What size should you look for? What materials are more protective than others? With this in mind, let’s dive into these questions so you can find the one that’s right for you and learn everything you ever wanted to know about athletic cups.




Back in the day, most athletic cups were made of perforated steel. While this offered great protection, they weren’t exactly comfortable. Now, things have largely changed. While some brands offer lightweight plastic cups with steel shields, most are made with tough polymers or carbon fiber. These materials help shield and transfer shock away from the groin.


For added comfort, most athletic cups have a gel pad surrounding the edges to prevent the polymers from pinching or digging into the skin. This is great because the padding helps combat irritation and chaffing during movement.

In addition, most cups are machine washable, but always check the packaging to make sure. If the style you buy is not, you can wash it in a tub or sink filled with hot water and laundry detergent or antibacterial soap. Allow the cup to soak before scrubbing it with a fresh sponge or dish cloth. Be sure to air dry it after washing.




Many brands make it easy to pick out the correct size. All you really need to know is your waist size. Boys’ athletic cups range from about 19˝ to 30˝ while men’s cups range from 28˝ to about 46˝. Check out this chart below to find out what size cup is best for you:




Most brands that sell athletic cups also sell undergarment supporters that help keep your cup from moving around during an activity. The three main types of supporters include compression shorts/briefs, jockstraps and impact shorts.


Compression shorts and compression briefs are form-fitting underwear that offer extreme comfort. In the front, they feature a pocket that is able to securely hold an athletic cup. These are great for wearing under most uniform bottoms.


Jockstraps consist of a pocket for your cup and a connected waist band as well as retention straps, which wrap around under your backside. With the rise of compression shorts, jockstraps seem to becoming less popular, as compression shorts can be much more comfortable.


Impact shorts not only have a pocket for your cup, but pockets for hip guards and thigh guards. These are great for athletes who play high-impact sports like hockey or rugby. They tend to run more expensive than the other two options, but the protection can’t be beat.


Protecting your groin is very important, of course, so don’t be embarrassed to ask a coach or a store associate if you still have any unanswered questions pertaining to athletic cups. When the game starts to get personal, make sure you’re properly protected.