Why Soccer Players Wear Compression Shirts

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If you’ve watched a soccer game over the past 5 to 10 years, you probably noticed the skin-tight compression shirts players wear under their uniforms. Nowadays, layers rarely wear long-sleeved shirts. Instead, they opt for compression gear if they need extra length. 

Have you ever wondered, why soccer players wear compression shirts?

This article looks at compression gear and explores the main reasons players wear it. Some of the key areas of focus we’ll touch on include: 

  • Benefits of wearing compression gear
  • Compression shorts
  • How to buy the right type of compression gear

If you’re looking for ways to take training to a new level, read on to find out the key benefits of compression clothing. 

Why do soccer players wear compression shirts

What Is A Compression Shirt?

A compression shirt is a skin-tight garment, usually made from a nylon and spandex blend. This type of clothing is designed to be worn under a shirt or top as a base layer.

There are several different types of compression clothing. Some compression garments are made specifically for medical use. 

When it comes to sports, compression shirts cling tightly to the muscles, offering support. This pressure not only offers reinforcement to the upper body but is also believed to reduce inflammation and enhance muscle recovery. 

Soccer Compression Apparel FAQs

Are Compression Shirts Good For Soccer?

There have been many studies to determine whether or not compression shirts and shorts are good for soccer. While the full extent of the advantages hasn’t been fully understood just yet, the general consensus is that they are good for soccer players and other professional athletes.

A major study, published by the British Medical Journal, monitored the injury rates of soccer players over an 18-year period. The study found that injury incidences decreased by around 3% per season.

It took place from the 2000/01 season to the 2018/19 season, during a time when sports science began to increase in importance for major teams. 

While this study doesn’t link directly to the wearing of compression gear, plenty more benefits have been found by scientists. The primary reasons soccer players wear compression shirts are:

Reduced Muscle Damage

During high-impact and explosive exercises, like jumping and sprinting, compression garments can reduce the impact on the muscles. Muscle damage is measured by a biomarker called creatine kinase (CK).

Tests have found that CK levels can be lowered when the athlete wears compression gear, like an undershirt. 

The tight fit means muscle oscillations are lowered, also contributing to reduced fatigue. Other tests have shown a reduction in inflammation and swelling after a workout. 

Improved Blood Circulation 

Compression shirts and pants can increase the blood flow and lymphatic outflow, enhancing the body’s recovery process. This is believed to be due to the increased muscle coordination caused by the tight structure of the clothing.

Improved blood flow circulation ensures oxygen moves through the body continuously, keeping your muscles enriched. 

Injury Rehabilitation 

Compression shirts are also used for injury rehabilitation. In fact, compression gear is most effective for muscle recovery after exercise has been completed.

Tight compression shirts or shorts can help the body release lactic acid from the muscles after intense exercise. This reduces inflammation and discomfort, making muscular injuries easier and quicker to recover from.

“Analysis of pooled data indicated that the use of compression garments had a moderate effect in reducing the severity of DOMS. These results indicate that compression garments are effective in enhancing recovery from muscle damage.”

BMJ, 2014
Why do soccer players wear compression shirts 2
Compression gear is popular in cold-weather environments.

Temperature Regulation

Some soccer compression shirts help with regulating the temperature of the body. Although certain shirts are designed for hot weather, most temperature-related compression garments are intended to keep the wearer warm.

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They are made with special insulating fabrics that retain heat when the body gets warm. 

With cold weather compression shirts, once the upper body muscles are activated, the increased blood flow forces them to radiate heat. The insulating materials then ensure the heat is retained, keeping the body warm.

Heat is great for sore or stiff muscles. Insulated compression shirts are an effective injury prevention approach for soccer players during the winter months. 


Many soccer players are extremely self-conscious about their looks. While most dress for performance when they’re on the field, some are very particular about their style.

For example, some players insist on wearing shorts of a particular size or pulling their socks above their knees. Many players opt for super tight-fitting jerseys while others prefer a looser style. 

Wearing compression gear beneath their uniforms is often a fashion choice for professionals. You often see them coordinate the color of their compression shirt with their team’s signature shade. 

What Do Soccer Players Wear Under Their Shorts?

Most soccer players wear underwear, compression shorts, or both underneath their game-day shorts. For training sessions, some wear full-length compression tights, providing cover from the hip to the ankle.

While it’s uncommon, players are allowed to wear leggings or tights under their shorts in a game as long as they are the same color as their uniform. 

In some cases, substitutes wear compression shorts or leggings while they are on the bench. This helps keep their muscles warm and prepped as they wait to come on. 

Compression Shorts

Compression shorts often blend in underneath the regular uniform, making them hard to detect. However, they are very common across all levels of soccer.

Some players elect to wear compression underwear rather than shorts. Certain popular soccer brands create soccer-specific compression shorts with extra padding to protect high-impact areas. 

Tights For Soccer Players

Compression tights offer the combined benefits of shorts and socks. They can improve recovery and reduce muscle soreness in both legs.

Since calf muscles are extremely important in soccer, tights are an excellent way to add extra support and circulation to this area of the body.

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We see many players wearing compression tights during training, particularly in the winter months when the muscles are more susceptible to injury. 

Compression Gear Buying Guide

Compression shirts and other garments are available from a variety of sources. Most major sports manufacturers manufacture high-quality shirts for soccer players.

However, there are also a number of viable medical-grade options. However, these are intended for injury recovery. 

If you’re unsure about what type of compression gear you need, take a look at the levels of compression, which are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg):

Compression LevelmmHgPurpose
Mild8 to 15Before, during, and after soccer
Moderate15 to 20Before, during, and after soccer
Firm20 to 30Prescribed by a doctor for injury recovery
Extra-firm30 to 40Prescribed by a doctor for injury recovery
A basic guide for choosing a particular level of compression.
Soccer Analyst and Publisher at Soccer Blade | Soccer Blade | + posts

Joel is a seasoned soccer journalist and analyst with many years of experience in the field. Joel specializes in game analysis, player profiles, transfer news, and has a keen eye for the tactical nuances of the game. He played at various levels in the game and coached teams - he is happy to share his insight with you.

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Soccer Products FAQ

Can I Use Running Shoes for Soccer? 

You can play soccer in running shoes, but you won’t have the best performance unless you wear cleats or soccer boots.

Why are soccer balls black and white?

Soccer balls are traditionally black and white because when soccer was first shown on TV it was in black and white, so the mix of black and white on the balls helped viewers see the ball easier. 

How hard and what pressure should a soccer ball be?

The FIFA regulations say that the soccer balls should have a pressure between 8.81757 psi (0.6 atm) and 16.1655 psi (1.1 atm). If you’re playing soccer with friends, then opt for a pressure amount from the lower range.

What is the size of goals in soccer?

5-A-Side has dimensions that are 12-ft wide by 6-ft high. Such soccer goals are for under-7 and under-8 soccer games
7-A-Side has dimensions that are 12-ft wide by 6-ft high again. Such soccer goals are for under-9 and under-10 soccer games
9-A-Side has dimensions that are 16-ft wide by 7-ft high. Such soccer goals are for under-11 and under-12 soccer game
11-A-Side or full-size soccer goal has dimensions that are 24-ft wide by 8-ft high for the under-15 and over. Whereas, for the under-13 and under-14, it is 21 ft wide by 7-ft high

What is the soccer ball size and weight for each age group?

Size 1 - 3 years or under - 18 to 20 inches - 195 to 205 grams
Size 2 - 3 to 5 years - 20 to 22 inches - U4 - 250 to 280 grams
Size 3 - 5 to 8 years - 23 to 24 inches - U5 to U8 - 300 to 320 grams
Size 4 - 8 to 12 years - 25 to 26 inches - U8 to U12 - 350 to 390 grams
Size 5 - More than 12 years - 27 to 28 inches - U12 to Pro - 410 to 450 grams

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