Best (compression) sleeves for volleyball. Surprising insights

Volleyball sleeves offer several advantages. They can help you to deal with sweat, reducing the impact of sliding over the ground, reducing the sting of the ball and some argue that they help with recovery after the match.

During winter they can keep you warm, which can be useful in colder climates if the sports arena is not heated. They can also look fashionable and make you feel great. For these reasons, some volleyball players enjoy wearing compression sleeves. We have to distinguish between arm sleeves and knee sleeves if we want to discuss the best ones that are available. 

best arm compression sleeves for volleyball

Arm sleeves come in different sizes so you will have to check the sizing chart to see which ones work for you. Some are wider and longer than others. There are also different colors and designs and this comes down to personal preferences. Most of them are made in a combination of Silicone, Spandex, and polyester. 

The following pair is the official brand for the USA Olympic volleyball team. They are unisex and can be worn by both men and women. They are quite long so cover your whole arm. They come in black and navy and have a cool logo on them.

Arm sleeves are quite cheap to purchase so there is no point in buying smaller brands as the quality might be worse. Remember that you have to wash arm sleeves a lot so if they don’t use quality materials, you won’t be able to wear them for a long period of time. They use elastics so that the arm sleeves stay in place. Other brands use a system where you have a type of glove to keep the arm sleeve in place. You can try them both and see what system you like the best.

Each brand has its own sizing chart but the following can be used as a reference. You have to bend your arm at a 45-degree angle and measure around your elbow joint. This can be done by wrapping a tape measure around your arm. You can also just order different sizes and return the ones that don’t work.

SizeElbow circumference
S10-11 inches
M11-12 inches
L12- 13 inches

Some arm sleeves contain additional padding on the elbow so that you have less of an impact when you dive to get the ball. Other arm sleeves further reduce the sting of the ball by adding padding on the hands and lower arms. This can help to reduce the sting of the ball. Both of these options are worn by beginning volleyballers as they can be quite annoying to play with if you have to wear them for a long time or sweat a lot. 

Best knee compression sleeve for volleyball

These is often referred to as knee pads. Almost all volleyball players wear these as you can land quite hard on your knees when you play volleyball. To protect yourself, there are gels or foams that reduce the impact of your landing. This makes sure that you don’t get injured when you dive to keep the ball in the air. This is not worn by beach volleyball players as it is a lot softer to land on the sand. 

Photo by Stephen Baker on Unsplash

Knee sleeves can be slightly longer and protect you when you slide over the floor. It is often better to wear knee pads with long socks as the knee sleeves that are on the market are not designed for volleyball. A lot of players wear long socks as this help reduce the chafing when you slide over the floor.

The advantage of knee sleeves is that socks and knee pads are integrated and that they don’t move that much. I would still recommend that you wear socks with knee pads as this combination works well. You can always buy a smaller size of socks if you want to have the compression effect. Leggings can work as well if you want to have compression on your upper legs.

Knee pads come in different sizes and also differ based on the level that volleyball players work at. Some need more protection than others.

Defensive players really have to bend a lot and can hit the ground quite hard. Therefore they often wear thicker knee pads. It is a trade-off between protecting the knees while also keeping the agility that is required to play volleyball.  A general sizing chart can be found below, check with the brand that you intend to buy as each brand uses a unique system. This is based on the length of the player.

SizeLength of the player
XS/S3’11”- 4’7”
M/L4’7”-5’3”
XL/XXL5’3”-5’11”

These are quite affordable as well so it is better to stick with bigger brands as they have a better product. You have to wear knee pads a lot and will have to wash them from time to time. Therefore it can be a good idea to buy multiple pairs so that you can always have another pair at hand if one is still wet. Most players use four to five pairs per season. Once they start to get smelly, they are annoying to play with. 

To conclude we can state that compression sleeves have their function in volleyball. They can help reduce the sting of sliding the floor, the sting of receiving the ball, and help you with recovering after a game. They are also great if you sweat a lot as they can catch it.

Arm sleeves are not worn that often as some players find it annoying to play with. Knee sleeves (or knee pads and socks) are often worn as a lot of defensive players hit the ground quite often. You will have to wear these a lot so it is a good idea to test several brands and designs to see what works for you.