5 Essential Facts About Basketball Socks (Ultimate Guide)

I know what you’re thinking, do basketball players need specialized basketball socks just to play basketball? Great question! 

Basketball socks are not essential to playing the game but can add to the experience in quite a few ways. We’re going to give you the knowledge you need to determine if you need basketball socks, the different types, and a handy guide to finding the right pair for you.

Your feet will thank you.

1: What Are Basketball Socks?

Basketball socks are specialized socks that provide extra cushion, support, and protection to your feet while playing basketball. While not essential to playing basketball, these socks do help protect your feet from blisters or injury and allow you to play longer.

Many manufacturers add protective areas to basketball socks that will protect your feet in high-wear areas. All those sensitive areas where blisters can form or there could be pinching from tight basketball shoes. A standard sock can be thin and loose on your foot, which can lead to blisters and even injury.

Basketball socks can also provide moisture-wicking and odor control. Basketball shoes are designed to be tight and contain the foot during hard lateral movements and jumping. This also means they don’t always have good airflow. Specialized socks can wick away the moisture and keep the stinky toes to a minimum.

Woven using polyester, cotton, nylon, and even spandex, basketball socks will usually have a premium feel that conforms to the foot. 

Basketball sock features graphic

2: What Are The Best Basketball Socks To Wear?

Taking into consideration what kind of player you are, or the player that you are buying for, the best basketball socks will be able to give a level of comfort and support regular socks can’t touch.

Here are the shopping tips for finding the right pair:

Shoe Height

Basketball shoes can come in three “heights”. Low, mid, and high-top shoes will come into consideration when determining what socks you may need.

  1. Low-top basketball shoes will allow for almost any sock length, however, “no show” socks may be too low to provide protection.
  2. Mid-top shoes will require a longer sock due to the slightly higher collar height of the shoe. Shorter socks will allow for rubbing on the achilles tendon or the front of the foot.
  3. High-top shoes will have the highest collar type and require a longer sock. As with the mid-top shoes, you will need a sock that protects from rubbing on the achilles tendon or front of the foot. 

ankle length sockslong socks no show socks


Looking good on the court is a very real consideration when deciding what socks to wear. Basketball socks come in a myriad of colors, patterns, and styles. 

Even sock length is an important factor that many players feel adds or detracts from their swag or drip. If you are buying socks for someone else, ask them what style or length of sock will work with their game.

Pro tip: If you are using the socks for regulation basketball, some teams may restrict the color of the basketball socks that can be worn on court.


It always comes back to the wallet, doesn’t it? Cost is an extremely important factor because specialized socks feel like more of a luxury than a necessity. 

You may also feel the need to have multiple pairs, especially if you play multiple times per week.

Basketball socks, at least the premium ones, will cost more than $10 PER PAIR. 

Don’t make your buying decision only on price, though. Basketball socks are a tool that can help your feet stay ready for gameday, and buying the cheapest socks may not give you all of the benefits. 


The game of basketball adds a lot of wear and tear to your feet. Basketball shoes are tight, stuffy, and built with performance in mind. A good basketball sock will have protective zones for the highest wear areas that players experience.

Look for socks that protect the achilles, ankles, and heel, and provide extra cushion to the soles of your feet.

Pro tip: Higher socks should have an elastic collar that keeps them up. No one wants a saggy sock hanging down around their ankles. 


3: What Are Elite Basketball Socks?

Elite Basketball socks are a brand of socks produced and sold by Nike. Nike is the largest manufacturer of sporting apparel and basketball shoes in the world. The Elite sock has become almost synonymous with performance basketball footwear.

Many other companies produce basketball socks, so you do not need Elite socks. However, they are an excellent sock and usually the preferred choice of a lot of players.

nike elite socks

4: What Are The Differences In Basketball Socks?

Here’s a handy breakdown of what to look for in basketball socks:

  • Length is an important factor in the comfort of a basketball sock. Socks can come in a variety of lengths including no-show, ankle, mid, and crew.
  • Protection will be another differentiating factor that will determine what socks you may need. A basic basketball sock may only have extra cushion and thickness, while a top-of-the-line sock will have multiple zones of protection. The highest level socks will have stretch zones in certain areas as well.
  • The material the sock is made of can make or break a good basketball sock. A good sock will be woven out of polyester, cotton, nylon, and spandex. This combination of materials makes for a well-fitting sock that wicks away extra moisture. A basic cotton sock won’t offer the same features or comfort.
  • The color of the sock may not contribute to the performance, but hey looking good can make you play well. Think about what color will work with your shoes, or what they will be washed with. Basketball socks will need to be washed often, so pick a color that won’t bleed or run into other clothes.

Pro tip: White socks can start to look dingy or gray after a few washes. 

5: How Often Should You Replace Your Basketball Socks?

Basketball can be brutal on your feet, but can you imagine how your socks must feel? High levels of heat, sweat, friction and washing can make socks unwearable in time.

Replacing your worn-out socks is part of being an athlete. Here is a list of factors to consider when debating tossing a pair out:

  • Pilling: High-wear areas of socks can get pilling, which is the tiny balls of material that build up. These can cause extra irritation and could warrant a replacement.
  • Elasticity: High amounts of wear can lead to the socks losing their elasticity. Once your socks start to feel loose, or your feet start sliding within your shoes, it’s time for a new pair.
  • Holes: If you can see your toes, it’s time to toss the socks. Luckily, basketball socks are much more durable than regular socks.
  • Stiffness: Some socks can get stiff or rough with enough time and wear. If you are feeling stiff portions in your socks, chuck them out.

Pro tip: After a lifetime of basketball, I find that basketball socks can usually last up to a full year of regular play. For reference, I play 2-3 times per week.

adidas basketball socks and shoes on foot

Bonus Tips

  • Basketball socks can be used for any sport or training. 
  • Rotate a few pairs so that all of the pairs last longer.
  • No-show socks can lead to blisters on the back of your feet.
  • Black socks are almost universally accepted for any league or team.
  • Expensive doesn’t always mean better. 


Choosing the right basketball socks can be tricky. But with a little research, you can find the perfect pair for your needs. We recommend you shop around and use our tips to find your perfect pair.

Don’t overlook the importance of keeping your feet protected, comfortable, and dry. The better your feet feel, the longer you can play. The better your socks are, the less time you spend nursing a blister or injury.