Why do soccer players wear tape? (all your questions answered)

When you watch a soccer game or when you play yourself, you have probably seen soccer players wearing tape. This can be wrapped around their wrists, ankles or fingers, for example. There may also be tape on the thighs, calves, shoulders and pectoral muscles, for example. In this blog, we explain to you why soccer players wear this tape.

This is why soccer players wear tape:
There are several reasons why tape is worn. The first reason is for more support to the wrists, ankles and/or fingers. The second reason is to help muscles function better, cushion pain and affect subcutaneous structures. The third reason is to keep shin guards in place.

When you read on, we'll explain more about the three different reasons why soccer players wear tape. However, there is more to this blog. For example, we also explain whether soccer players can perform better by wearing tape, which famous soccer players wear tape and why soccer players used to wear tape.

Why do soccer players wear tape?

As you read in the intro, there are several reasons why soccer players may wear tape. Below, we will discuss these in more detail.

Tape for better support

You often see soccer players with tape around their wrists, ankles and/or fingers. They do this to give them more support, among other things. Below you will find more information about this. 

Why do soccer players wear tape around their wrists?
Soccer players wear tape around their wrists to give them more support. When soccer players fall, they often catch themselves with their hands. This creates pressure on the wrists. Especially if a player has weak wrists, bruising can quickly occur. 

Wrapping the tape tightly around the wrists gives them more strength. When they fall, they are much less likely to suffer a bruise or other wrist injury. 

Why do soccer players wear tape around their ankles?
There are several reasons why soccer players wrap tape around their ankles. 

The first reason is the same why players put tape around wrists. Namely, for more strength to the ankles. When a player jumps and then lands, the ankles take quite a bit of weight. The tape allows the ankles to bear this weight better. 

Another reason is to somewhat protect the ankles from possible slidings by the opponent. In this case, the tape acts as a kind of protective layer. When an opponent accidentally hits the ankle, it can prevent minor injuries and scrapes. 

Why do soccer players wear tape around their fingers?
For the same reason soccer players have tape on their wrists, they do the same for their fingers. It ensures that when they fall the fingers have more support. 

Defenders in particular also put tape around two or three fingers. This ties the fingers together. The reason for this is that they cannot pull on an opponent's shirt as easily. This gives them more assurance that they are less likely to foul. 

Another reason is to splint a finger. Sometimes two fingers are taped together if one of the fingers has suffered a fracture or bruise. Connecting the finger to another finger allows it to heal because it can't move as much. 

Why do goalkeepers wear tape?
Goalkeepers often wear tape around the wrists. They do this to ensure that the goalkeeper's gloves stay on properly. In addition, it gives more support to the wrists when they dive to the ground and land on the hands. 

Tape to keep shin guards in place

Some soccer players wear tape around their lower legs to ensure that the shin guards stay in place. This is necessary because the shin guards they wear are nothing more than two separate plates that are slipped into the socks. 

The tape keeps the shin guards from moving. If these are not wrapped with tape, there is a very good chance that the shin guards will move. This happens, for example, when the player makes a slide, falls or enters a duel. 

Want to know more about shin guards? Then read one of our blogs on the subject:

Tape to improve muscle function or cushion pain

You've probably seen players wearing tape on the upper legs, arms and shoulders, for example. When a player takes off his shirt after the game, you may also see tape on the chest or back. 

This tape is kinesiology tape and is often called kinesiotape. The tape is elastic and is applied by the physical therapist. The tape is applied in a way that creates space between the epidermis and the subcutis. Here there are all kinds of receptors of nerves, blood and lymph vessels. The tape stimulates blood and lymph circulation and reduces the pressure around the area where the tape is attached. 

This results in better muscle movement and provides pain relief when there are physical complaints. 

Because the top layer of skin contains 85% of the pain sensors, the application of kinesiotape can activate the pain relief system. 

Applying the kinesio tape can be done in different ways. This makes it possible to influence different physiological structures such as neuroreceptors, lymphatic vessels, microcirculation and fascia. 

What tape do soccer players wear?

Because there are different reasons why soccer players wear tape, there are also different types of tape to wear.

The tape that is worn for more support at the wrists, ankles and fingers is mostly ordinary sports tape. This tape is available at sporting goods stores but also often at drugstores. This tape can easily be put on by the player himself.

The tape attached to the body is kinesiology tape or kinesio tape. This tape can also be purchased at sporting goods stores and drug stores. However, attaching this tape requires some practice. There is a special technique involved to attach it properly. Therefore, this tape is (usually) applied by the physical therapist. 

This blog may also interest you
What protection does a soccer player wear? (a complete overview)

Can soccer players perform better by wearing tape?

Wearing both kinesiology tape and support tape for wrists, ankles and fingers have a positive effect on a soccer player's performance. 

The kinesiology tape in particular provides this. As you have read earlier, this tape allows muscles to move better. This can have a positive effect when, for example, a player has to start a sprint, win a head duel or dribble past a player. 

The support tape can make a player less likely to get injured. As a result, a player may not be able to perform as much better but can perform much more since he is injured less often. 

Bekende voetballers die tape dragen

A lot of famous soccer players wear tape. They do this for all of the above reasons. However, the biggest reason is to keep the shin guards in place. Below is a list of players who wear tape:

  • Lionel Messi
  • Cristiano Ronaldo
  • Neymar
  • Gareth Bale
  • Antonio Rüdiger
  • Mbappé
  • Virgil van Dijk
  • Paul Pogba
  • Hugo Lloris
  • Sadio Mané
  • Serge Gnabry
  • Depay
  • Marco Reus

Why did soccer players used to wear tape?

Tape used to be worn for a very different reason. Especially in the 1990s, soccer players wore tape around their wrists, fingers and even over their earlobes. 

The reason was that they wore jewelry that they didn't want to take off. With the tape, they hid the jewelry. This also made it safer to wear the jewelry. By using tape to cover the earlobe, they were a lot less likely to lose it during the competition or have it accidentally pulled out. 


So there are numerous reasons why a soccer player may wear tape. The vast majority of soccer players who wear it around the lower legs do so to ensure that the shin guards stay in place. So it is also worn to perform better and reduce the risk of injury. 

Curious about more blogs regarding protection for soccer players? Then click here for an overview. For example, you will find blogs about why soccer players wear shin guards, why some wear a protection mask and why they wear gloves.   

January 28, 2023
Published: January 28, 2023