Why do soccer players wear thermal clothing? (detailed explanation)

Where in the past soccer players only wore a uniform, now you see more and more players wearing thermal clothing in today's soccer. But what is the reason soccer players actually wear thermal clothing? You'll find out in this blog.

This is why soccer players wear thermal clothing:
Soccer players wear thermal clothing to keep the muscles warm. A soccer player can perform better when the muscles have the right temperature. In addition, there is less chance of getting injured. Thermal clothing is also worn to keep from getting cold when they are standing still, such as during set-piece moments. 

When you read on, we will go into more detail on this topic. We will also explain if there are any rules regarding wearing thermal clothing, whether a soccer player can perform better with thermal clothing and what types of thermal clothing are available.

Why do soccer players wear thermal clothing?

As you have read in the intro, there are several reasons why a soccer player wears thermal clothing. Below we will go into more detail on these.

To perform well

During the 90 minutes of soccer, it is important that a soccer player's muscles stay warm. When they stay warm, a soccer player can move easier and better. This allows him, for example, to dribble past an opposing player more easily, sprint faster or jump higher. All of these components are important during a match.  

To reduce the risk of injury

It is important for a soccer player to keep the muscles warm. When this is not the case, a soccer player has a higher risk of injury. For example, when a player sprints with cold muscles, he is more likely to pull his hamstring.

To reduce the risk of injury, a warm-up is always done before a match.Learn more about this in our blog Why do soccer players do a warm-up?

To stay warm

It can get incredibly cold on a soccer field. Especially in the winter (especially at night in the winter), it can get so cold that it freezes. When the wind is also blowing, the temperature can feel incredibly cold. Thermal clothing helps a soccer player stay warm. 

Especially during set-piece moments, a soccer player can cool down quickly. For example, during a free kick or corner kick, it can take a while before the game is resumed. The same applies if there is an injury and a player needs treatment. Most players then stand still for some time and can cool down quickly. Wearing thermal clothing keeps players from cooling down so quickly. 

For this reason, some soccer players also wear gloves in the winter. You can read more about this in our blog Why do soccer players wear gloves?

Can a soccer player perform better when wearing thermal clothing?

Yes a soccer player can perform better when wearing thermal clothing. This is because the clothing keeps the muscles warm. Warm muscles have much less difficulty performing movements. Think, for example, about sprinting, entering into a head duel or dribbling past a player. Because of this, thermal clothing has a positive impact on a soccer player's performance. 

Are there any rules about wearing thermal clothing in soccer?

Regarding wearing thermal clothing, there is only one rule established by the IFAB*. The rule states that thermal clothing must be the same color as the color of the jersey a player is wearing. 


At a club like Borussia Dortmund, where they play in a yellow shirt it is mandatory to wear a yellow thermo shirt. At Real Madrid, where they play in white, it is mandatory to wear a white thermo shirt. 

However, this only applies if the thermal shirt has long sleeves. When a thermal shirt is worn it does not matter what color it is since it is not visible. 

* The IFAB stands for International Football Association Board and makes and monitors the handling of rules within soccer. 

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What protection does a soccer player wear?

What types of thermal clothing are there?

There are different types of thermal clothing. Below are the different ones:

Thermal shirt

The thermal shirt is the most commonly worn type of thermal clothing. It is available with short and long sleeves. The shirt is designed to keep the upper body, shoulders, upper and forearms warm. Muscles the shirt keeps warm are for example the chest muscles (Musculus pectoralis major), abdominals and all back muscles including the broad back muscles (Latissimus dorsi).

Thermal shirt (without sleeves)

The thermal shirt without sleeves is also widely worn by soccer players. However, you do not see this as it is hidden under the soccer shirt. This shirt keeps the upper body warm. However, the shoulders are not part of this. 

Thermo shorts

Thermo shorts are worn under soccer shorts and are designed to keep the upper legs and glutes warm. Among other things, it keeps the hamstring, quads, glutes and groin muscles warm. 

Thermo long pants

The thermo long pants keep all the muscles warm that the thermo short pants also keep warm. In addition, it also keeps the calf muscles warm. 

What is the difference between thermal pants and sliding pants?

Sliding pants and thermal pants are worn for almost the same reasons. They both help keep the upper leg muscles warm. 

However, both pants also provide protection when making slidings. The fabric protects the skin from possible abrasions. A player can incur these if he does not wear one of these shorts and makes a slide on a dry field. 

You can read more about why soccer players wear sliding shorts in our blog Why do soccer players wear sliding shorts? In addition, we have written a blog that answers other questions regarding sliding pants. In this we answer, for example, whether wearing sliding pants is mandatory, how to wash them out and what size you need. Click here to go to this blog.

What is the difference between thermal pants and compression pants?

The major difference between thermal pants and compression pants is that compression pants are much tighter. 

Compression pants are meant to keep muscles less vibrant. Thermal pants are meant to keep muscles warm. 

Because compression pants are so tight, the muscles are less likely to vibrate. When muscles vibrate less they will not get tired as quickly. This allows a soccer player to perform at a higher level for longer and has less chance of injuries in the hamstrings, for example.

What does a soccer player wear under thermal clothing?

Because thermal clothing is tight, a soccer player does not wear a t-shirt or shirt under the thermal clothing. A thermal shirt is meant as an extra layer of protection. An extra t-shirt or shirt is therefore unnecessary. 

Under thermal pants, many soccer players wear (sports) underpants. They do this because it is more hygienic, more comfortable and warmer. 


By now you know why soccer players choose to wear thermal clothing. Not only does it ensure that a player can continue to perform well, but therefore, it also reduces the risk of injury. In addition, players cool down less quickly when the game is paused. 

Weren't you wearing thermal clothing before but are you going to now that you have this information? Chances are it will improve your game! 

Curious to learn more about protection for soccer players? Click here for an overview of all blogs on this topic.

January 27, 2023
Published: January 27, 2023