Best Knee Sleeves For Basketball

Basketball has always been an interesting sport in terms of athleticism and it seems to evolve year on year. I mean the average height in the NBA is a staggering 6’7 inches which is phenomenal! But how can we reach the heights of these great athletes?

Well, chances are slim, to be honest, but not impossible. However, there are certain things we can do to help improve our game. One method is using knee sleeves. Knee sleeves are great for increasing blood flow, reducing pain and improving proprioception which is all vitally important as each other in their way.

In this article, I will help provide some key details on 5 of the best knee sleeves right now which will help elevate your game! How’s that sound? You don’t need to say, I know you’re interested so let’s get down to business, shall we?

McDavid Hex Compression – Best Knee Sleeves For Basketball

Knee Compression Sleeves: McDavid Hex Knee Pads Compression Leg...
15,848 Reviews
Knee Compression Sleeves: McDavid Hex Knee Pads Compression Leg...
  • PATENTED HEX PROTECTION - Closed cell foam padding...
  • MOISTURE WICKING TECHNOLOGY - Keep Cool & Dry with...
  • DURABLE FOR DAILY WEAR - 9mm Hex technology is a...
  • ENHANCED FIT AND COMFORT - extended length of...
  • COMPRESSES WITH CONFIDENCE - Warm muscles = happy...

First, we have the McDavid Hex Compression knee sleeve and what a way to start this guide by setting the bar high with such a fantastic choice of physical aid. Now, it won’t turn you into a Monstar from Space Jam, but it has many great benefits that are sure to improve your performance!

Specific features include the patented hex protection which helps protect your knees from high impact movements. In addition to this, they also help stay cool and dry with a special hDc moisture management tech along with sustained durability for players from beginner to professional. But how do they fit? Well, they come with an extended length of the sleeve to fight away any potential scrapes or cuts which is made of a non-slip material to help ensure a great fit! Not only that but the compression from these sleeves aid in keeping muscles warm to reduce fatigue and cramp. This means you may even turn into Lebron if you wear these sleeves. But don’t hold me to that.

In my opinion, the McDavid Hex sleeves are a brilliant choice for any avid basketball fan from all levels. They have an array of high tech and valuable features that will improve overall performance for anybody who wears them!


  • High-level technology integrated
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Machine washable
  • Enhanced fit and comfort
  • Increases vital physiological elements


  • Sizing comes a bit small, double-check correct sizes

McDavid 429X – Best For Pain Relief and Knee Support

McDavid Maximum Support Knee Brace with Hinges (429X)....
2,118 Reviews
McDavid Maximum Support Knee Brace with Hinges (429X)....
  • SUPPORT – Geared side hinges (on both sides of...
  • COMPRESSION - Elastic crossing straps for enhanced...
  • ADJUSTABLE - Top and bottom straps assure a...
  • COMFORTABLE – Fits both left and right knee....
  • KEEP COOL & DRY- Perforated back panel sleeve...

Although this isn’t necessarily a knee sleeve, it does hold specific benefits that basketball players should consider, especially in the pain relief and knee injury side of things as the knee can be a very vulnerable area in basketball.

So, you may think this is an attachment that Robocop would have worn to fight off criminals, but sadly it’s not. However, it does have the robustness that Robocop has in regards to protection. Just without the guns and explosives. With that said, the McDavid 429X is perfect for those who suffer from knee instability, tendonitis, fragile patellar tendons, and general unstable knee function. It supports these benefits with features from the geared side hinges to add stability and free movement, latex-free neoprene for thermal compression, patella support that has padded buttress to isolate and support the knee patella and many more relieving features.

For those who are considering to buy this specific product, I would advise buying it if you suffer from the above-mentioned knee problems or else it could be a costly investment that you don’t essentially need. In turn, if you do have said issues it honestly is a great piece of kit and I truly believe it would alleviate a vast amount of knee-related issues. Even if you’re Robocop.


  • High-performance neoprene for support and insulation
  • Elastic crossing straps for compression
  • Reinforced tabs for easy on/off
  • Bilateral geared polycentric hinges for stability and free movement
  • Patella padding for comfort


  • May be heavy to wear for some people
  • Wouldn’t recommend for juniors

Shock Doctor Maximum Support – Best For Injury Prevention And Healing

Hinged Knee Brace: Shock Doctor Maximum Support Compression Knee...
12,660 Reviews
Hinged Knee Brace: Shock Doctor Maximum Support Compression Knee...
  • PREVENTS AND PROTECTS - Helps prevent and heal...
  • MOISTURE AND ODOR PREVENTION - Airflow vented tech...
  • BOOST MOVEMENT AND COMFORT - Heavy duty bilateral...
  • PREMIUM MATERIALS - Latex-free, premium stitching,...
  • LIFTS AND COMPRESSES - Compression supports soft...

A lot of knee sleeves or braces out there are great for stimulating performance through blood flow and avoiding cramp and fatigue but in my opinion, it’s just as important to use a product that has a keen focus on injury prevention and the healing process from an injury. The Shock Doctor knee brace does exactly this and does it extremely well!

It comes packed with many advanced benefits that help combat ACL/PCL injuries, supports the patella and sprains, and is a great aid for hypertension too. All factors are enormously important to avoid during basketball as the mechanics of the game can affect said problems in a bad way. The Shock Doctor is made up of various components, one component being heavy-duty bilateral dual hinges for greater support and range of motion. Another is the aluminum stays that add brilliant stability along with an X-fit strap system to ensure a highly secure fit which is adjustable. I mean they look bionic for a reason; they’re designed to prevent the worst kind of sports injuries and this product will do exactly what it says in my opinion!

I very much like this product; it seems to be more streamlined and lighter than other knee braces which helps you move much more efficiently. However, at the same time, it also has undeniable protection and preventative components in place to look after you. I’m going to brand this one as the guardian angel of knee braces for obvious reasons!


  • Help avoid an array of serious knee injuries
  • Great for comfort and support
  • Lighter than other models
  • Comes with very high-end technology
  • Can be used for both knees


  • Can be quite pricey for only one knee brace

McDavid 6440 Hex – Most Versatile Knee Pads For Basketball

Mcdavid 6440 Hex Knee Pads/ Elbow Pads/ Shin Pads for Volleyball,...
4,072 Reviews
Mcdavid 6440 Hex Knee Pads/ Elbow Pads/ Shin Pads for Volleyball,...
  • Hex Technology is superior, closed cell foam...
  • Can be used for the knee, elbow or shin
  • Moisture Management Technology is all about cool...
  • Highly versatile pad available in 9mm Hex...
  • Machine washable/dryable

Ah, McDavid, a name that is thrown around an awful lot in terms of knee brace/sleeve protection and for a good reason too. The reason being, the brand is reliable and has many products that cater to many different people. A brand for the people, if you will.

Now, it’s clear McDavid is an industry leader for the products they sell due to the quality in their designs and their great reviews. With that said, what makes the 6440 different from others? Well, it’s much smaller than other sleeves but upon closer inspection, it’s easy to tell why. The 6440 is more versatile as it can be used for knee pads, elbow pads and shin pads across a spectrum of different sports that involve some form of impact in said areas.

If you’re looking at the 6440 with hopes of avoiding heavy injury prevention or to support existing injuries then, sorry to say, this wouldn’t be a wise choice. However, if you want a small, dynamic, yet versatile sleeve to avoid minor impact and help with compression then this is a more than worthy option to consider!


  • Very versatile across the body and sports
  • Sold as a pack of 2
  • Great for youth and adults
  • Very generously priced
  • HEX foam padding for comfort
  • hDc moisture technology to stay cool and dry


  • Wouldn’t recommend for those with serious joint problems

McDavid 6440 Hex – Most Versatile Knee Pads For Basketball

Shock Doctor Knee Compression Sleeve (Black, Large)
1,323 Reviews
Shock Doctor Knee Compression Sleeve (Black, Large)
  • SUPPORT / RELIEF – Get instant relief thanks to...
  • LATEX FREE COMFORT – Extremely breathable and...
  • SHOCK DOCTOR GUARANTY – We have been a leader in...
  • PREMIUM QUALITY – Made from the highest grades...
  • 100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE - If you are not...

Please give another warm welcome to Shock Doctor. Yet again we have another entry from this fantastic company who offer another impressive alternative for those in need of a solution for their troublesome knees.

This particular model is very different from the maximum support option we previously discussed earlier in the article. The compression sleeve here is a much more dynamic option for those who may not suffer with as severe injury woes. When I say dynamic, picture Sonic The Hedgehog. That’s the sort of dynamic I’m talking about here. Fast, agile, reliable, just not a hedgehog. Although it’s not for severe injuries it still helps with much lower scale ones such as meniscus tear, patella alignment, arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis and many more. Because of its curved design, it assists in support and relief and also offers a latex-free comfort which is breathable and low profile for a snug fit.

It seems Shock Doctor is another fine example of being industry leaders and with this particular product, their reputation will only uphold even further. The brace is a stellar and active alternative to those that seem too bulky and industrialized to wear whilst being able to maintain, to an extent, the same efficiency and quality.


  • Options for closed or open patella sleeve
  • Pre-curved anatomical design for enhanced fit and comfort
  • Flexible side stabilizer for added support
  • Four-way stretch Lycra for comfortable flex ventilation
  • Padded patella buttress to stabilize knee cap


  • Wouldn’t recommend for severe injuries
  • Not as robust as other models
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The Only Buying Guide You’ll Ever Need

As you can see, there are different types of knee braces or knee sleeves that are widely available in today’s market. But unfortunately, not every product will apply to the same individual. This is because certain products will cater to those with varied needs. One individual may have recently returned from an ACL injury whereas a different individual may only have a strain.

In this case, they would both require two very different products. To put this into perspective, you wouldn’t put a Fiat 500 engine inside a Lamborghini Urus as the mechanics wouldn’t match the required specification, would it? Or better yet a doctor wouldn’t put a plaster over a compound fracture, well I would hope not anyway or it might be time to change where you seek medical assistance.

Knee Braces for Injury Prevention/Healing

These types of braces usually look heavy duty and are very resilient. This is because they are designed to provide maximum support for those that have suffered more severe injury problems such as ACL repair or knee displacement issues. The key thing to look out for here is they are typically referred to as braces rather than sleeves as sleeves are more commonly considered for those of minor severities or performance aids.

In addition to this, it’s vital to observe what product would suit you and your situation best. Ask yourself how bad your injury is or was? How much support is required? Will I be conducting low, moderate or intense activity with said brace? Will this brace provide me with the aid that I need? All are vitally important to consider before making the right purchase!

Knee Sleeves for Minor Injury and Performance

Knee sleeves are great and can be a lot more versatile than heavy-duty knee braces. They are usually a lot lighter, less bulky, and can enhance performance under more intense activities than their robotic-like counterparts. More often than not they are used to increase compression in a slightly fragile area such as the elbow, knee or even shins.

They are also superb in helping increase blood flow and to prevent cramp or fatigue in muscles as well. Keep these handy products in mind if you are competing in activities that are more intense as chances are, they will supply the added benefit you need to avoid minor injuries from knocks, cuts or strains. Nonetheless, they should always offer great compression at all times and be slim so you are still able to perform at your best while wearing them for practice and match play.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do basketball players wear rubber bands on their knees?

Basketball players wear rubber bands on their knees to help avoid minor injuries such as knocks or cuts and soften the impact from landing or falling. The compression also helps by enhancing blood flow which will prevent cramp and fatigue.

What knee pads do NBA players wear?

NBA players wear knee pads that are slim, compressed and usually long so that it covers a large proportion of the lower thigh, knee and upper shin. A perfect example would be the McDavid Hex Compression knee sleeves.

Does basketball ruin your knees?

Basketball, when played without proper recovery measures, can be bad for knees. This comes from inflammation being a result of prolonged, repeated jumping and additional activity in the knees. A common injury is known as patellar tendonitis (jumper’s knee) which, if left untreated, can result in ongoing pain during and after activity.

How long do NBA players ice their knees?

Although I cannot speak for every NBA player, what I can say is that icing knees should be done in bouts. The best way to do this is to place something that is freezing cold (ice or frozen peas) on the inflamed area for 10-20 seconds, then take it off for a few minutes and repeat this process for 10 minutes.

Best Knee Sleeves for Basketball – Final Words

Although we’ve come, to the end, of, the road. Sorry, I love Boys ll Men. But In all seriousness, I hope this article helps you in choosing the most effective knee aid for your circumstance. There are so many to choose from so please ensure you break down the specifics of all potential options before deciding which one would be most beneficial for you.

Additionally, be very careful of cheaply advertised products as this could make your circumstances a lot worse both in the long and short term. The key thing here is to invest in a well-built sleeve or brace by a reputable company that has a long-standing reputation with great reviews to back up their products. Or just ask the company who manufactured the Robocop suit. What a film. I will end this with a question to keep in mind so please leave your answer in the below:

Do you think knee braces/sleeves work to prevent injury and aid performance?

Justin D. Johnson
Justin D. Johnson
Justin is a PhD student at Stanford University and has been a basketball youth coach for over ten years. He is passionate about sports, cinema, astronomy, and sharing knowledge.