A quality elbow guard is one of the must-haves for a basketball player, professional or not. An elbow guard will keep arm fatigue, swelling to the minimum and maintain the right muscle temperature on the shooting arm. Most importantly, it will drastically reduce the risk of elbow injury.
You must have seen many NBA players wearing elbow guards even on the bench and wondered what’s the point?
That‘s simple – they are keeping their shooting arm ready for the action by keeping their muscles warm.
Picking the right elbow guard/arm sleeve that provides adequate support and protection demands hours of research. To save you some precious time and effort, I have put together a list of 6 of my favorite elbow guards and also explained why they are my top picks.
- 1 A Roundup of the Best Basketball Elbow Guards in 2021
- 2 4. Mcdavid 6440 Hex Knee Pads/ Elbow Pads
- 3 How to Choose the Best Basketball Elbow Guard – Buying Guide
A Roundup of the Best Basketball Elbow Guards in 2021
I got the “small” size of this elbow guard for my 10-year-old nephew and it fits him perfectly. However, I do feel even the small size will be a tad big for 5-6-year-olds.
The “adult” size is perfect for average build teens and adults and the “large” size, I figure, is best suited for people with an athletic body, irrespective of their age. The quality of the material is pretty impressive.
It ergonomically molds to your arm to provide proper support. On the downside, though, you can’t reshape it easily once it’s molded. The padding used in the elbow guard strikes a perfect balance between soft and firm.
It’s breathable, keeps the arms and elbow warm, and offers impeccable protection when things get intense on the field. I witnessed this elbow pad saving my nephew’s elbow from nasty bruises on more than one occasion.
Is it a bit on the expensive side? Yes. But does the quality of comfort and protection offered by it justify the price? Also yes.
Should you decide to get this elbow guard, please read the instructions on how to mold the pad carefully before opening the package as the air-activated guards begin to harden immediately after you take off the plastic.
- When molded correctly, it can avert serious injuries.
- Easy to mold.
- Air-activated braces for uncompromising protection.
- Soft, breathable padding.
- Suitable for kids and tweens as well as heavily built people.
- The smallest size would be a bit too large for children below 10 years.
This one-size-fits-all elbow guard would make a great choice for kids, twins, as well as adults with a slender build. It comes with velcros, therefore, doesn’t need molding. It’s super easy to adjust to the circumference of your bicep and forearm.
The padding quality is nearly on par with EvoShield. It definitely has the potential to protect your child’s elbow against acute fracture, bruises, and scratches.
If you are specifically looking for elbow guards to minimize the pain and swelling caused by elbow tendonitis or lateral epicondylitis without spending a fortune, this is probably one of the best options around.
Besides delivering terrific protection, the padding material is lightweight and breathable as well. You can wear it for hours end on the muggiest day of the year without much discomfort.
- Ideal for skinny athletes, especially for kids and teens.
- Has velcro straps, doesn’t require you to mold.
- Lightweight and breathable material offers adequate muscle support.
- Ensures enough protection and comfort for athletes battling elbow tendon injury.
- The youth size would be too small for stout people.
When it comes to elbow guards for basketball, softball, or baseball, there are very few brands that come close to EvoShield in terms of quality. Although the Pro-SRZ is marketed towards baseball players, NBA players will get the same amount of benefit from it.
It’s super lightweight and can be worn by both left and right-handed athletes without a problem. The sleeves incorporate a gel-to-shell technology that allows you to mold the guard to the shape of your elbow on the fly.
It provides full coverage to the tricep area as well, a quality missing in many cheaper alternatives. The adult size would fit teenagers and adults just fine. The dispersion technology reduces the impact to a great extent. As long as can it fits right and is worn correctly, it will help the wearer dodge some serious damage to the elbow tendon.
- True to the size, fits well.
- Excellent shock dispersion ability.
- Lightweight and comfortable against the skin.
- Suitable for both left and right-handed athletes.
- None really.
These guards can double up as both elbow guards and knee guards and come in a pair. It provides a decent coverage, fits and feels perfect, and provides a good amount of protection.
Some would say that the padding isn’t thick enough to offer enough protection during intense takedowns. While partly agree that the padding could have been thickener, the current design offers a lot more mobility and flexibility than bulkier pads would.
If you are someone like me who prioritizes flexibility over everything else, these elbow guards might be the right fit for you. I’d suggest going a size up for a proper fit.
The material is a combination of nylon and spandex which allows it to easily adapt to the shape of your elbow or knee and stay in place, no matter how aggressively you’re moving around.
On the downside, if you are going to use it frequently, you might have to replace them often. Durability isn’t its strong suit but it’s also among that rare breed of elbow/knee guards that strike the perfect balance between protection and flexibility. Also, the material is highly comfortable and doesn’t slip – as every elbow guard for basketball should.
For a product made so thoughtfully, I’d be okay with having to replace it as often as needed.
- Not bulky and supremely flexible.
- Comfortable material doesn’t slip at all.
- Thoughtfully spaced silicone pads provide a decent protection.
- Provides great coverage.
- Can be used as both elbow and knee pad.
- Runs a bit small, you have to go a size up to get the right fit.
If you are a professional basketball player or an adventure sports enthusiast who seeks uncompromising protection, then this one is worth considering. I personally find the coverage of Marucci better than even EvoShiled guards.
If I ever have to play with a hairline fracture of the elbow, I’d confidently choose this to shield my bones from further damage.
Granted, it’s on the bulkier side but that’s a trade-off you’d have to live with if you want solid shock resistance. It’s a one-size-fits-all elbow guard that snugly fits both heavily built adults as well as young athletes. I loved how easily you can adjust it to get the right fit.
The material that touches the skin is soft and doesn’t slip even when you’re sweating like a pig. Overall, it’s an amazing choice for professional athletes as well as amateurs who are battling (or expecting) some kind of elbow injury.
- Ruggedly built, belts out great protection against heavy tackles and takedowns.
- Provides full coverage to the arm and forearm.
- No-slip, breathable material.
- Easily adjustable to get a snug fit.
- Suitable for athletes of all ages.
- A bit heavy.
I know a lot of athletes who swear by this elbow guard and rightly so. The “SmartFlex” pads have impeccable body conformity. The compression material keeps the elbow and tricep tight and toned.
The high-quality mesh fabric effectively traps warmth and is ultra-lightweight at the same time. If you have been suffering from fatigue or injury, you would appreciate the warmth resulting from the compression.
For those who can never seem to find the right elbow guard size, G-Form offers 6 size options to choose from. According to the majority of the users, the sleeves are true to the size and suitable for people of all age, body type, and build.
The level of protection you get from the G-form completely justifies the steep price tag. If you play aggressive basketball or expecting some serious aggression from your opponents, look no further.
What’s even better is that despite being one of the toughest elbow guards on the market, it doesn’t feel bulky or uncomfortable. To sum up, with these elbow guards on, you don’t have to worry about heavy blows in your elbow area and that’s kind of the whole point, isn’t it?
- Offers terrific protection, suitable for professional athletes.
- Has 6 size options to choose from.
- Doesn’t smell sweaty.
- Doesn’t restrict movement.
- Washing-machine safe.
- Runs a bit small, so you have to go up a size to get the perfect fit.
How to Choose the Best Basketball Elbow Guard – Buying Guide
While it’s ultimately the skill and dedication of the player that helps them achieve greater heights, the protective gears play a defining role in their success as well.
A quality elbow guard will not only maintain proper muscle temperature and blood circulation but also provide protection when you need it the most.
No two elbow guards are created equal which makes finding the right guard pretty challenging. Below I have outlined the basic criteria I use for choosing elbow guards for myself-
The thickness of the elbow pad totally depends on the level of protection you want. Obviously, the thicker the padding, the better protection you get. On the downside, thicker pads also make the elbow guard bulky, potentially resulting in compromised mobility.
If you are a well-built athlete, I’d advise you to start off with a medium-heavy guard to get that right balance between protection and comfort.
Heavier padding also drives up the price of the below guard. So if you are on a budget, you might have to settle for moderately padded guards. Nonetheless, it will do the job.
Coverage and Fitting
An elbow guard for basketball, softball, or simply any sport should primarily cover the following areas – elbow joint, forearm, and triceps. The wider the coverage, the better are your chances of dodging an injury.
The size of the elbow guard depends on the athlete’s height and build. Unless it’s a one-size-fits-all product, I’d suggest you go one size up and tighten the straps or mold it to get a snug fit.
Overly tight elbow guards can affect blood circulation in the arms, which defeats the purpose of wearing an elbow guard.
Elbow braces naturally get subjected to a disturbing amount of sweat and grime. Therefore, the ideal material for the arm sleeve would be something lightweight and breathable to avoid trapping moisture and odor.
Most professional-grade elbow guards use a blend of spandex and nylon. It’s a soft, moisture-wicking, non-slip fabric that stays in place and doesn’t smell awful when you’re sweating profusely.
Neoprene boasts an even better moisture absorption and breathability. Both materials ensure adequate muscle compression, keeping your muscles warm and fatigue-free.
Mesh is another common material and offers greater breathability than every other sleeve material. If you need better joint support, silicone would probably be your best bet.
The efficacy and comfort of the elbow guard partly depend on the wearer’s personal preference as well. All the 6 arm sleeves reviewed above offer incredible value for money, hence they are on this list. I have tried my best to lay out everything you need to know about them to make an informed decision.
Analyze the reviews thoroughly, know what you want, and make a decision accordingly. Keep practicing! My teammate owns a pair of these and he has never complained about flexibility issues.
Mind you that it’s only one elbow guard and not a pair like the previous one. But thankfully, you can wear them on either of your arms.