How to Put on Sports Tape Like a Pro: Step-by-Step Guide for Athletes

You’ve probably seen athletes sporting strips of colorful tape and wondered if it’s just for show. Well, it’s not! Sports tape is a game-changer for providing support and stability to muscles and joints during your workouts. But there’s a trick to getting it right.

Applying sports tape might seem daunting at first, but with a little know-how, you’ll be taping like a pro in no time. Whether you’re looking to alleviate discomfort or prevent injury, knowing how to properly put on sports tape is an essential skill for any fitness enthusiast.

So, roll up your sleeves and get ready to learn the simple steps to secure that tape and boost your performance. It’s easier than you think, and the benefits? They’re well worth the effort.

The Benefits of Sports Tape

You’ve probably seen athletes, from your favorite basketball stars to the kids on the local soccer field, sporting strips of colorful tape on their limbs. Ever wonder why? As an enthusiastic lover of all things sports who’s both played and coached, let’s dive into the advantages.

Sports tape can make a significant difference in your athletic performance and the way your body feels during and after sports. Here’s how:

  • Enhanced Stability: When you’re leaping for a catch or pivoting on the court, sports tape provides extra joint stability. It helps to hold muscles and joints in the optimal position, reducing the chance of injury.
  • Muscle Support: The tape isn’t just for looks; it gives your muscles a helping hand. By supporting the targeted area, it allows other muscles to take a breather, distributing the workload more evenly.
  • Pain Relief: You know the discomfort that can come from an overworked ankle or wrist. Taping can relieve pressure on the painful area, partially taking over the workload and easing discomfort.
  • Improved Circulation: Properly applied sports tape can improve blood flow, which promotes faster healing from injuries. Good circulation is key to recovery, and when you’re ready to get back to your passion, this matters.
  • Reduced Swelling: Swelling is a common response to injury. Sports tape helps compress the affected area, which can reduce swelling and speed up your recovery time.

Remember, to reap these benefits; you must know correct taping techniques. A poorly taped joint can do more harm than good. Fear not, though. With a bit of practice, you’ll be taping like a pro in no time. Then, you can feel the support as you coach your youth team to the finals or hit the gym for your workout with confidence.

Types of Sports Tape

When diving into the world of sports taping, you’re faced** with a variety of tapes, each with its unique properties and uses. Your choice of tape depends on the sport you play, your specific injury, and your personal comfort.

Kinesiology Tape
This is the stretchy tape you’ve seen in every color imaginable on athletes at all levels. Unlike traditional athletic tapes, kinesiology tape doesn’t restrict movement, making it a favorite for dynamic sports. It’s designed to mimic the skin’s elasticity, allowing you to move naturally while still providing support.

  • Enhances performance by supporting muscles
  • Allows for a full range of motion
  • Can stay on for several days, even through sweaty workouts or showers

Zinc Oxide Tape
Noted for its rigid nature, zinc oxide tape is your go-to for immobilizing joints that need a break. If you played baseball, basketball, or football like I did, you’re probably no stranger to the stability this tape offers.

  • Prevents joints from moving excessively
  • Ideal for wrists and ankles
  • Used for more static taping methods

Elastic Adhesive Bandage (EAB)
EAB is somewhat of a middle ground. It’s stronger and less stretchy than kinesiology tape but not as rigid as zinc oxide tape. It’s often used for areas that need both flexibility and support, such as the fingers and forearms—familiar territory when you’re coaching the younger crowd.

  • Great for compression
  • Adheres well to the skin or pre-tapes

Before you even get to the actual taping, consider the underwrap. Especially if you have sensitive skin, this thin foam layer can be a game-changer. It protects your skin from direct contact with the adhesive and makes for an easier removal process—which we all appreciate after a long game or intense practice.

Selecting the Right Tape

With your sport and injury in mind, compare the features of each tape to determine what’ll suit you best. If it’s a trial-and-error process, remember that’s okay. Finding the perfect fit could take time and maybe a little advice from a fellow sports buff or health professional.

Preparing for Tape Application

Before you dive into wrapping your joints with the chosen sports tape, ensure everything is in place for a smooth application. This upfront prep can make a world of difference in how well your tape holds up during rigorous activities.

First, clean the area thoroughly where you’ll apply the tape. Your skin should be free of oils, lotions, and sweat. Use soap and water, and if necessary, an alcohol wipe for that squeaky-clean surface. This step is non-negotiable; it’s key to getting the tape to stick correctly.

Next, inspect your skin for any cuts, scrapes, or irritation. Placing tape over broken skin isn’t just painful when you pull it off; it can also hinder the healing process. If you spot any issues, address them first or use a protective barrier like a gauze pad.

If you’ve got a lot of body hair in the area, you might want to consider trimming it down. Hairy surfaces can make tape application trickier and removal more painful. Plus, the smoother the surface, the better the adhesive will bond.

Let’s talk about positioning. You’ll need to be in the right pose when you apply your tape, one that mimics the movement of the sport you’re prepping for. For instance, if it’s for your knee and you’re a runner, slightly bend your knee as if you were mid-stride. This ensures that the tape has enough slack for when you actually start moving.

Remember, the goal isn’t to restrict your movement but to support it, so keep that in mind when you’re positioning yourself. This is where your knowledge of your body and your sport will come into play. Consider the motions you go through, and try to replicate them as you position the tape.

Finally, have everything you need within arm’s reach – the tape, scissors for cutting, any pre-wrap if you’re using it, and maybe even a mirror if you’re applying tape to a hard-to-see area. Once you’ve done all this, you’re good to go. Just follow the taping technique that suits your sport and injury, and you’ll be game-ready in no time.

Step-by-Step Guide to Putting on Sports Tape

You’ve prepped the skin and you’re in the right pose. Now, it’s time to dive into the art of taping. Remember, the way you apply your tape can make a huge difference in both the level of support and the freedom of movement you’ll experience during your game or workout.

Start with a Test Strip
Before going all in, apply a small piece of tape to your skin. You’re checking for any allergic reaction, which is rare but better safe than sorry. If your skin is fine after 30 minutes, you’re good to go.

Apply the Anchor
Most taping techniques start with an anchor strip, which is a single, short length of tape with no stretch. You’ll apply this at the start of the muscle area without applying any tension. Think of it as the foundation for the rest of your tape job.

  • Cut a strip of tape
  • Round the edges to avoid peeling
  • Place at the beginning of the muscle group

Add Support Strips
You’ll apply the support strips that may be needed for additional stabilization. These are typically longer and can be applied with some tension to help support the muscle or joint.

  • Stretch the tape to the desired tension
  • Lay it down in the direction of the muscle
  • Be sure not to overstretch, as it can restrict movement and circulation

Here’s where your knowledge of sports and your experience with movement come into play. You know what motions are essential in baseball swings, basketball jumps, and football sprints. Use that insight to guide the tape along the natural lines of motion for your sport.

Finish with an End Strip
Wrap up with another anchor strip at the end of the application area. Like your initial anchor, this should lay down without any tension, signaling the end of your taping job.

Throughout the process, rub the tape to activate the adhesive. Your body heat helps to secure it in place. Now, you’re taped up and ready to engage in the sport you love. Whether you’re pivoting, swinging, or sprinting, you’ll feel the support that sports tape brings to your game.

Tips for Proper Application

When you’re strapping up for your next big game or simply prepping for a rigorous training session, applying sports tape correctly can make all the difference in your performance and protection. As someone who’s been in your cleats, I know a thing or two about how to get the most out of this stretchy sidekick. Here are some tips that’ll help you tape like a pro.

First, keep your skin clean and dry. If your skin’s oily or sweaty, the tape’s going to have a hard time sticking. Make sure to give the area a good wipe down before you apply anything. If you’ve got a forest of hair where that tape needs to go, consider shaving it down. Trust me, it can save you a lot of discomfort and make the tape more effective.

Next, focus on the application process. Lay the tape smoothly against your skin, following the natural flow of your muscles. You don’t want any wrinkles or bumps—these can cause irritation and even decrease the tape’s efficacy. It’s kind of like drawing the perfect play in the dirt; make it smooth and deliberate, so everybody knows where they’re supposed to go.

Here’s a little trick I’ve learned: for areas that bend a lot like elbows and knees, apply the tape in a slight bent position. This gives you a good range of motion and can help prevent the tape from peeling off prematurely when you’re going for that touchdown or slam dunk.

Remember, sports tape isn’t just about sticking something onto your body and hoping for the best. It’s about giving your muscles and joints the backup they need to perform at their peak. Stick to these tips, and you’ll be taping with confidence in no time.

  • Keep skin clean and dry
  • Shave area if necessary
  • Smooth application, no wrinkles
  • Apply in bent position for joints

With every strip you apply, you’re not just supporting a muscle, you’re gearing up for victory. Whether you’re hitting the field, the court, or the track, proper taping is an essential part of your prep work. So take the time to do it right, and you’ll feel the difference every step of the way.


You’ve now got the know-how to tape up like a pro, ensuring you’re ready to take on your sport with confidence. Remember, taking the time to apply sports tape correctly can make a significant difference in your performance and protection. So next time you’re gearing up, give your muscles and joints the support they deserve. Happy taping, and here’s to your best game yet!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the correct way to apply sports tape?

To properly apply sports tape, follow the natural lines of motion for your sport, ensure the skin is clean and dry, shave the area if necessary, and apply the tape smoothly without wrinkles. When taping joints, do it in a bent position.

Do I need to prepare my skin before taping?

Yes, you should prepare your skin by cleaning it and ensuring it’s dry. If the area is hairy, you may need to shave it for better adhesion of the tape.

Can sports tape be applied with wrinkles?

No, sports tape should be applied smoothly and without wrinkles to ensure it functions correctly and does not irritate the skin.

Is it important to tape in a specific position?

Yes, it is important to apply the tape in a bent position when taping joints to accommodate the movement and provide the best support.

Why is proper sports taping important?

Proper sports taping is important because it helps to support the muscles and joints, promotes proper motion, and can enhance overall athletic performance. Additionally, incorrect taping can lead to injury and discomfort.

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