Basketball Knee Pads

Basketball Knee Pad

Basketball is a physically demanding sport and can cause injuries to players if they are not taking necessary safety precautions. Of these safety measures, few are more important than knee pads, which protect the most important leg joint from high speed collisions that occur while playing basketball.

What are knee pads used for?

Knee pads come in many different shapes, sizes and materials that are all utilized for different purposes. Some knee pads are used to soften the blow from collisions while others aim to prevent re-injury by protecting knee ligaments and tendons. Certain knee pads simply aim to reduce the risk of future injury and are not as sturdy as others. For some players, having a layer of protection around their knees provides a sense of safety allowing them to play freely without the thought of injury.

Regardless of purpose, the speed of basketball places an extreme burden on a player's knees while running and jumping at full force. Therefore, it is important for every basketball player to understand the needs of their bodies and take proper precautions to ensure their knees are being protected while running up and down the court.

Things To Consider

When looking for knee pads, you'll want to consider the following:

  • What type of knee pad do you need?
  • What type of injury are you treating or looking to prevent?
  • How much do you have to spend on knee pads?
  • Do the knee pads you are looking at provide the proper support?
  • What material do you want your knee pads to be made out of?


The three types of knee equipment in basketball are knee braces, knee pads, and knee sleeves.

Knee Brace

Basketball Knee Brace

Knee braces are the most sturdy and reliable protection for a basketball player's knees. While they can be used to prevent injuries from occurring, they are typically used in recovery to reduce the risk of re-injuries. Braces, in comparison to sleeves and pads, provide knee stability and prevent the joint from bending the wrong way.

Knee Pad

Basketball Knee Pads

Knee pads provide basketball players with a cushion to absorb impact from the high-speed collisions on the court that can result in bruises, abrasions or even broken bones. The padding protects the patella and reduces the risk of a fracture or break giving athletes a sense of security while playing.

Knee Sleeve

Basketball Knee Sleeve

Knee sleeves are predominantly used for future injury prevention, but also provide compression that can alleviate knee pain while playing basketball. These have become wildly popular in the NBA, with many players using the compression of knee sleeves to prevent wear and tear as the season progresses.


Knee pads are made out of a variety of materials including spandex, cotton, rubber and silicone. Some knee pads contain other materials as well.

  • Polyester: Polyester is a good choice for knee pads as it is durable enough to withstand the rough conditions of basketball.
  • Neoprene: Neoprene is abrasion resistant, meaning even the hardest of falls will be absorbed by the material, providing superior knee protection.
  • Polyurethane: This material is used to make foam, making it perfect for knee pads by providing a cushiony impact for the player's knees.
  • Elastane: Elastane is best used in knee sleeves with its elasticity and compression allowing for a firm, flexible fit.
  • Cotton: Cotton is used in knee pads to add comfort and breathability to knee pads to avoid skin irritation while playing.
  • Gel: Knee pads with gel are both elastic and resilient, forming a cushion unique to each knee that allows for softer impacts.
  • Rubber: Rubber's flexibility and water resistance makes for a perfect knee pad material that allows the protector to bend and resist sweat.
  • Silicone: Silicone is most often used in the lining of knee pads due to its ability to stick to skin and keep the knee pad in place while moving.


Three of the most popular brands for knee pads are McDavid, Nike, and Shock Doctor.

  • McDavid: While McDavid knee pads are on the pricey side, they have some of the best products on the market. This includes their HEX pads that evaporate moisture quickly allowing for a cool, dry fit while playing.
  • Nike: Nike produces stylish, high-quality knee sleeves that are well worth the price tag. Nike dominates the basketball landscape with durable and fashionable products that protect players like no other.
  • Shock Doctor: Shock doctor is more known for their sturdy knee braces with a reputation for effectiveness and safety. They are a solid choice for recovery knee braces as players ease back into playing.


Some important factors to consider when looking for basketball knee pads are durability, cost, and amount of support the pads provide.


Knee sleeves are far less durable than pads, which are less durable than braces. While sleeves can tear after a player slides on a basketball court, braces are usually tougher against general wear and tear. If a player is looking for a knee sleeve, well-known brands are the most reputable sources for durable, long-lasting products.


Knee braces provide more support than either pads or sleeves. If players are looking for stability after an injury or resilience to prevent ligament or tendon damage, knee braces are the way to go. They feature straps, hinges and even sewn-in support to ensure the knee stays in place.


Knee braces are typically more expensive than pads and sleeves, but players pay for more protection when buying a brace. Overall, high-quality brands like McDavid, Shock Doctor and Nike are usually more expensive but will provide more protection and last longer than other manufacturers.

What are the best basketball knee pads?

See Basketball Knee Pads


What are the benefits of using knee pads?

Knee pads have many benefits depending on whether you are looking for a brace, a sleeve or a pad. Braces provide stability for players returning from injury, sleeves prevent future injuries from occurring and pads ease the burden of impacts on the knee's tendons and ligaments. Furthermore, a player will be more comfortable playing if they feel safe and protected by knee pads enabling them to attack stronger than they would without a protector.

How much do the different kinds of knee pads cost?

Basketball knee pads can range in cost depending on brand and quality. Lower quality brands can manufacture less durable knee pads for around $10, whereas higher quality brands will sell pads and sleeves for around $50. Braces are the same way, with better brands having more expensive products. Knee braces typically sell in the $60-$150 range.

What materials are basketball knee pads made from?

Since knee pads differ in function, many differ in material depending on what players are looking for. Knee sleeves can be made from elastic, resilient material like elastane, but knee pads call for more protective materials like gel, polyurethane and neoprene. Braces are much different, usually blending together materials like cotton, elastane and even tempered aluminum to provide stability and comfort.