Why Do Soccer Players Tape Their Wrists?
Many soccer players all around the world wear different kinds of accessories. We’ve seen major shifts in fashion both on and off the pitch in the past decade or so. But why do soccer players wear tape on their wrists? Is that a fashion statement or something a bit different?
We are all used to players taping their ankles for safety reasons – by doing so, shin pads fit much better, and they don’t tend to move as much as they would without wearing a tape. However, players tape their wrists for several other reasons other than safety.
First of all, let’s take a look at an example of a player who tapes his wrists. The first one that comes to mind is Luis Suárez. The Uruguay, Ajax, Liverpool, Barcelona, and now Atlético Madrid legend is famous for having tape around his right wrist. While the color of the tape may vary depending on the kit he’s wearing at the moment, the tape placement is always the same – right wrist.
Some of the major reasons why both Suárez and other soccer players tape their wrists are:
- Using tape as protection from potential and previous injuries
- Being superstitious
- Covering tattoos and bracelets
As strange as it might sound, the second reason for taping wrists is quite widespread. After sustaining various wrist injuries, players have to wear some sort of protection for some time during recovery. There are cases in which some players perform quite well during this period. The reason they decide to keep wearing it is, of course, superstition. For example, they feel like they will score more goals if they keep wearing their lucky charm.
If we take a look at the photo of an average player from a couple of decades ago, we will notice that the wrist tape was not an essential accessory to many as it is today.
Reasons That Soccer Players Tape Their Wrists
Let’s take an in-depth look at the three most common reasons for taping wrists:
1. Protection from new and previous injuries
The main reason for taping your wrists is this one. During every soccer game, players tend to push, shove and fight each other for a better position. Wrists, fingers, and other body parts tend to twist in these scenarios, and the majority of the players need to wear some sort of protection – either to prevent a potential injury or avoid sustaining a new one.
Both offensive and defensive players are vulnerable to sustaining injuries through tackles. The tape helps both the players who are tackling and who are being tackled since they can try to soften the fall by landing on one of their tape-covered hands.
Having their wrists taped is also another common occurrence among goalkeepers. Goalies are constantly under pressure every game, and they need to be ready to save those rapid and strong shots that come from various angles. Having a tape underneath the gloves can reduce the potential risk of sustaining a long-term injury.
It’s also quite important to note that players who tape their wrists are not immune to injuries. While taping their wrists might help them reduce the risk, there’s still a chance that players can sustain an injury that will keep them off the pitch for some period.
As previously mentioned, there are players who tend to wear wrist tapes for superstitious reasons – the better the form they are in at the moment they are wearing tape, the more likely they will keep wearing it even if they don’t have a prior injury, or are not expected to injure that wrist. Some just believe that the wrist tape brings good luck and it’s their lucky charm.
3. Covering tattoos and bracelets
Like many people all around the world, soccer players tend to wear various pieces of jewelry outside of a soccer field. Since it is prohibited to wear any kind of jewelry on the field, some players, like Gareth Bale, have found a way around it, and they tend to tape their bracelets so they can keep them hidden from the referees.
What players other than Luis Suárez tend to tape their wrists?
One of the most famous players in the entire world and the Brazilian star, Neymar, is a good example of a soccer player associated with wrist tapes. The current PSG and former Barcelona and Santos star usually put tape on his right wrist. His main reason for doing so is fairly obvious. Neymar sustained an injury a couple of seasons ago. After getting back and fully recovering, Neymar decided to keep wearing a wrist tape for safety and comfort reasons.
Another one would be Raúl Jiménez. The current Wolverhampton Wanderers star is now also familiar for wearing a Petr Čech-esque helmet after sustaining a head injury. In addition, the Mexican is known for wearing tape on his left wrist. The tape color usually matches the kit color – which can also be seen in several soccer video games.
Gareth Bale, the current Real Madrid star, is also known for wearing tape on not one but both of his wrists. As mentioned earlier, the main reason for this is the fact that he wears a bracelet that, according to rules, can’t be worn during a game since it could harm both Bale and other players. So the Welsh star found a solution – he wears tape over the bracelet, which technically isn’t considered a penalty.
What kind of tape do players use?
The most typical kind of tape that players tape their wrists with is athletic tape. It is some sort of medical tape that gives additional strength both to strengthen the wrists and the ankles. While it is mostly used for the treatment of sprained ankles and joints, medical tape is also used to help with the movement of an already injured body part.
A sport synonymous with harsh tackles and duels sees wrist tapes as a necessity. The tape controls ankle movement and supports the injured areas. Athletic tapes can in that case be either elastic or non-elastic, depending on what the player prefers. Elastic tapes are used mostly for movement, while the non-elastic ones help with stabilization.
As much as it might seem like some sort of fashion statement or a superstition, main reasons for taping your wrists is to, as mentioned, prevent an injury or recover from an existing one. With the development of soccer as a game, we’ve noticed an improvement in the medical aspect of the sport as well. The reason the trend has caught on is obvious – many players don’t want to potentially be sidelined. Next time you watch a soccer game, make sure to take a look at the players’ accessories.