shooting sleeves basketball

Best Arm Sleeves for Basketball – Top 5 Shooting Sleeves

NBA players are always sparking new fads. Remember when the players were wearing seeing glasses without any lenses in them during their interviews? Well, that caught on. Young people all over the world started buying seeing glasses that they didn't even need.

So what's the deal with all this compression wear? Players seem to be wearing compression sleeves all over their bodies including their legs and arms. It seems only a matter of time before there's compression for the neck and head. But before you go buying into this fad, you must ask yourself one simple question -- does it really help your game?

Do arm sleeves improve your game?

Let's take a closer look!

Compression, Explosivity and Recovery​

I'm always pretty skeptical when I see a new trend in the NBA. There are always companies trying to get their clothes and gear on NBA players in order to sell their products to the general public. Are these compression sleeves for your arms helpful at all or are they just a clever marketing scheme? I've dug a little deeper.

As it turns out, there is some evidence that suggests compression wear helps muscles explode more powerfully. When the muscle fibers are condensed, they tend to fire off more rapidly. This increase in explosivity is fairly minor but it can help your game. It can make your hands just a little bit faster to get that steel or snap off that pass. It also may help you add just a little bit of range on your deep jump shots.

There is also some evidence that suggests compression sleeves on the arms accelerate recovery. That means you can play more ball throughout the week and month. If you wear these compression sleeves, you may be able to play more basketball during your entire lifetime. Again, the increase in recovery is pretty small. It's only about 1% or 2%, but that can add up over time. If you're a ballplayer looking for longevity, the compression arm sleeve might just be for you.

How to Choose The Best Arm Sleeve

There are a few different concerns you need to address when choosing a compression arm sleeve for basketball. First and foremost, you need to ask yourself about functionality. The second concern is cleanliness because of this arm sleeve is going to experience quite a lot of sweat. The last thing you need to concern yourself with is looks. Some people really get an emotional boost when looking good on the court while others could care less about how they look so long as they perform.

Performance concerns include the fabric that the arm sleeve is made out of. Certain fabrics breathe better than others, but the non-breathable fabrics heat up your arm to keep it loose for a longer period. You also have to question the mobility of the fabric itself. Some compression sleeves are very restrictive while others are a little bit loose. You have to choose the right arm sleeve for your game.

One of the biggest concerns when it comes to compression arm sleeves for basketball is cleanliness. You're going to sweat into your arm sleeve and you're going to rub up against other sweaty guys on the court. That can make the arm sleeve as smelly as a varsity locker room, but some fabrics resist this bacterially-driven scent.​

And then there's looks. Some arm sleeves come with crazy prints that look like camouflage for a paintball arena. And then, of course, there's the classic black for those who don't want to stand out. The looks of the arm sleeve are completely up to you, but some basketball leagues may not allow you to play with particularly loud colors.​

Do not forget that performance is king. When it comes to choosing your compression arm sleeve, cleanliness and looks should take a backseat to any performance gains you might receive. You can always run your arm sleeve through the laundry or wash it by hand in the sink. And you always look good winning on the court no matter what your arm sleeve looks like.​

The Best Shooting Sleeves for Basketball

Shooting Sleeve


  • Price: $12.74
    Was: $17.99

  • breathable material
  • simple and affordable

  • Price: $14.99

Under Armour Men's Shooter Sleeve

  • keeps your arm warm and loose
  • great for outdoor use

  • Price: $39.99

Men's Nike Pro Combat Elite Sleeve

  • Popular "Elite" series design
  • wide variety of colors

  • Price: Out of stock

Adidas Compression Arm Sleeve

  • keeps your arm cool
  • unique styles available

  • Price: $13.00
    Was: $13.99

McDavid 6500 Padded Shooter Sleeve

  • padded elbow reduces bumps and bruises
  • best shooting sleeve for aggressive, attacking players 

1. McDavid Compression Arm Sleeve

This simple arm sleeve is incredibly affordable and only comes in flat colors. The material is made out of 80% nylon and 20% spandex. These materials tend to be very tight but they allow the skin to breathe well. That means this arm sleeve gives you a good amount of compression while staying cool. It is a good option for somebody who sweats a lot or heats up quite a bit on the court. It is also a good outdoor option as it is 100% UV protective and it allows your skin to keep cool in the sun.

The material is moisture-wicking. This is sort of a double edged sword when it comes to cleanliness. The sweat tends to evaporate away quickly but it leaves behind the salt and smell-causing bacteria of the sweat. You may start smelling on the court without even feeling a drop of sweat rolled down your arm.

The sleeve only comes in different colors. There is a McDavid logo near the wrist. The tight material also may not allow you to cover your entire arm especially up near the armpit. All things considered, this is an affordable and effective arm sleeve that is great for outdoor use.

2. Under Armour Men's Shooter Sleeve

The UA company is trying to sell you on the fact that this sleeve helps you shoot the basketball. Now, that's not necessarily true. An arm sleeve will not increase your accuracy but may help you shoot the ball a little bit further. This sleeve and all the others reviewed here will help your range but not your accuracy.

But this arm sleeve may help you heat up, literally. The sleeve is made out of 100% polyester which is notorious for not letting the skin breathe too well. This can be a good thing for some players. The extra heat trapped by the arm sleeve will keep your arm loose for a longer period of time. This is an especially attractive option for players who have a hard time loosening up.

The fabric is UPF 30+ so it is a good sleeve for outdoor use, especially in the cold weather. The polyester may trap some of your sweat inside the sleeve so you won't smell until you leave the court. And the sleeves only come in flat colors. It is ultra-tight but it will fit the entire length of your arm.

3. Men's Nike Pro Combat Elite Sleeve

The most expensive sleeve on the list, the Men's Nike Pro Combat Elite Sleeve is the first option on this list to come with a print. A line of blocks descends down the bicep and a straight black line is drawn across the forearm until it comes to the familiar Nike swoosh at the wrist. You'll probably know the design from the popular Elite basketball socks. It comes in a variety of colors but the print always stays the same. The design helps your arm muscles look bigger to perhaps intimidate your competition on the court. It is the only instance where design actually meets performance.

This particular arm sleeve is designed to warm up your arm quickly. Again, if you are a player that runs hot this may not be the option for you. But it makes this arm sleeve another good option for outdoor wear when the weather turns cold.​

This sleeve also features the moisture-wicking technology. This type of fabric can prevent sweat from rolling down your wrist and on to your shooting hand. It keeps your hand dry which may actually improve accuracy. It also keeps your arms from becoming slippery where you can literally slide off your opponent.

4. Adidas Compression Arm Sleeve

The Adidas version of the arm sleeve comes in a variety of colors and prints. This is the arm sleeve for someone who cares about how they look on the court. But if you are going after an extravagant print know that the Adidas compression arm sleeve is designed to keep your arm cool. It is not exactly a good option for outdoor wear in cool weather. It also may be a poor option for somebody who needs a little more time to warm up, such as older players. But I don't think many older players will gravitate towards these extravagant prints from Adidas.

The reason the arm sleeve keeps your arm cool is the fact that it is completely made of nylon. Nylon tends to be tight on the skin but breathes rather well. Nylon may be tight enough to actually change your shot if you lack the strength to fight the fabric.

The product makes no mention of being protective against UV rays so you may still need to wear sunscreen underneath the arm sleeve when playing outdoors for long periods of time.​

5. McDavid 6500 Padded Shooter Sleeve

This is essentially the same arm sleeve as the other McDavid arm sleeve reviewed above. It is affordable, comes in only flat colors, and is made of 80% nylon and 20% spandex. But there is one key difference that I must recommend -- it comes with a cushioned elbow.

The hex pattern on the elbow allows for maximum range of motion. The weight of the padding isn't even noticeable and should not affect your shot. But the padding is there to reduce the impact of any falls you may have on the court. This is especially helpful out on asphalt courts. If you are wearing an arm sleeve for recovery so that you can play more basketball during your lifetime then this may be the sleeve for you. It reduces those bangs and bumps that everyone experiences when playing at full speed.

Added bonus -- you don't have to worry about knocking anybody's teeth out.


There really is no wrong way to go when choosing an arm sleeve. Some of the arm sleeves lend themselves to warmer weather by keeping your arm cool. Other arm sleeves heat your arm up quickly which may be good for older players or basketball played in the cold. But each of these sleeves will compress your arm effectively to increase explosivity and reduce the amount of time you need to recover between games.

The arm sleeves are going to get dirty, sweaty and smelly no matter what. Some materials are quicker to smell while others trap your sweat inside the sleeve. You are sort of damned if you do, and damned if you don't in this case. And, of course, looks are always up to you. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but never let looks get in the way of performance or application.Jump to top

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