Oftentimes, athletes are looking for any edge they can get to improve their performance. Some turn to supplements or more rigorous training regimens, while others focus on their diet. Others still look to their gear, and in particular, their sportswear. But does what you wear have an impact on your performance.
The short answer is yes, sportswear affect performance, but it's not quite as simple as that. Different types of sportswear can provide different benefits, and ultimately, it's up to the athlete to decide what works best for them. The type of sport you're playing, the climate you're playing in, and even your physiology can all play a role in how effective your sportswear is.
That said, some general principles apply to all athletes on how sportswear affects their performance, which we'll go over in this article.
1. Help you regulate your body temperature
Whether you're trying to stay cool in the heat or warm in the cold, sportswear can help. In hot weather, light, breathable fabrics will help keep you cooler by allowing sweat to evaporate quickly. In cold weather, layers of insulation will trap heat close to your body and help you stay warm.
To expound on point one, wearing the proper sportswear can help your body regulate its temperature, which in turn can have an impact on your performance. If you're too hot or too cold, your body will divert blood away from your muscles to try and regulate your temperature, which can lead to fatigue. This is why it's so important to dress appropriately for the weather conditions you'll be playing in.
2. Protect you from the elements
Sun, wind and even rain can all have an impact on your performance. Wearing the right sportswear shield you from the sun's rays, keep you dry in the rain, and provide warmth in the wind. Furthermore, sportswear can also help protect you from environmental hazards like dust, pollen, and even toxic chemicals.
3. Improve your range of motion
If you're trying to increase your flexibility or mobility, sportswear is absolutely essential. Wearing loose-fitting or form-fitting sportswear can help improve your range of motion, and in turn, your performance. This is especially true for sports that require a lot of movement, like basketball, football, or even gymnastics.
In terms of specific benefits, sportswear improve performance by compressing certain areas to improve blood flow and reduce muscle vibration. This can lead to improved power output and reduced fatigue.
4. Help you stay comfortable
Comfort is key when it comes to athletic performance. If you're not comfortable, you're likely to be distracted and your performance will suffer as a result. Sportswear is designed to keep you comfortable, whether it's with moisture-wicking fabrics that keep you cool and dry or padded shorts that protect you from chafing.
It's not just about comfort - feeling good is also important for optimal performance. If you don't feel good about what you're wearing, it can affect your confidence and your willingness to give your all. The sportswear that looks good and makes you feel good will help you perform at your best.
Feeling good about yourself can have a positive impact on your performance. Wearing sportswear that you feel good in can help boost your confidence and make you feel more comfortable, both mentally and physically.
6. Protect you from injury
Injuries are always a risk in any physical activity, but there are some things you can do to minimize the risk. Wearing the proper sportswear can help protect you from injuries by providing support and cushioning for your joints and muscles. For example, wearing a mouthguard prevents concussions, while wearing shin guards can prevent bruises and scrapes.
Additionally, while you might not think of it as sportswear, wearing sunscreen can reduce your risk of injuries by protecting your skin from the sun's harmful UV rays.
7. Help you recover from injuries
Injuries are inevitable no matter how careful you are. On numerous occasions, athletes have been able to return to their sport and perform at a high-level thanks to their sportswear. The right sportswear can help you recover from injuries by providing the necessary support and compression.
Wearing compression garments has been shown to help reduce swelling and improve blood flow to the injury site. This can speed up the healing process and get you back on your feet sooner.
8. Make you more visible
In some sports, it's important to be visible to other players. For example, in football, rugby, and hockey, wearing brightly colored sportswear can help you stand out on the field or rink. This can be helpful when you're trying to avoid collisions or make a tackle.
In other sports, like running or cycling on roads, it's important to be visible to drivers. Wearing bright colors or reflective materials can help make you more visible, and therefore, less likely to be involved in an accident. For example, many running shoes now come with reflective materials built into the fabric. This helps you stay visible when you're out on early morning or evening runs.
9. Improve your posture
Your posture plays a big role in your athletic performance. When you have good posture, you're able to breathe more deeply and efficiently. This allows your muscles to get the oxygen they need to function properly. Good posture also helps you maintain balance and stability, which can prevent injuries.
Wearing sportswear that supports good posture to maintain proper form while you're exercising. This includes clothing that fits well and doesn't restrict your movement. Additionally, sportswear with built-in support, such as compression garments, can help improve your posture by providing additional back and abdominal support.
10. Make you feel more powerful
Research has shown that what you wear can affect how you feel and perform. In one study, participants who wore Superman t-shirts were more likely to take risks and feel more powerful than those who didn't. While this research is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, it does show that what you wear can affect your mindset. Wearing sportswear that makes you feel powerful and confident can help you perform at your best.
Sportswear does not just make athletes look good - it can also help them perform better. The right sportswear can help an athlete to regulate their body temperature, stay hydrated, and move more freely. All of these factors can lead to improved athletic performance. When choosing sportswear, it is important to consider the climate in which you will be competing, as well as the specific sport you will be playing. With the right sportswear, you can help to improve your performance and reach your goals.