How to Put Sports Tape on Knee: Master Athletic Taping Techniques

Ever found yourself sidelined by a pesky knee injury? It’s frustrating, right? Well, sports tape might just be your ticket back into the game. This stretchy savior can provide support, reduce pain, and enhance your performance when applied correctly.

But here’s the kicker: slapping on some tape willy-nilly won’t do the trick. There’s an art to taping your knee, and you’re about to learn it. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a seasoned athlete, mastering the technique can make a world of difference.

What is sports tape?

You might’ve seen athletes, from the ones sprinting down the track to those making incredible catches on the football field, sporting strips of colorful tape on various parts of their bodies. That’s sports tape, a stretchy, therapeutic tape that’s not quite like the traditional white athletic tape you used to secure shin guards or to tape up a wrist. Sports tape is designed with flexibility in mind, allowing you to move naturally while providing support and stability to your joints and muscles.

Think of sports tape as a second skin. When you apply it to your knee, it gently lifts the skin, creating a small space between the muscle and tissue. This space is key as it helps reduce inflammation by allowing better circulation which is vital for healing. Moreover, it’s more than just a protective layer; it acts as a reminder to your body to maintain a certain posture or alignment, especially useful when you’re pushing hard on the field or court.

While the traditional tape may restrict movement, sports tape is quite the opposite. It’s crafted to stretch and move with you, which means you can perform a full range of motions without feeling like you’re being held back. This is why so many athletes—weekend warriors and pros alike—have integrated taping into their pre-game or pre-activity routines.

Another standout feature of sports tape is its staying power. You’ll find that it can last through sweat, showers, and sometimes even a few days of wear, which is a testament to its durability. And don’t worry about discomfort; the tape’s adhesive is designed to be skin-friendly.

  • Supportive: provides structural support to joints and muscles
  • Flexible: allows a full range of motion
  • Durable: can withstand sweat, showers, and extended wear
  • Comfortable: typically skin-friendly and hypoallergenic

Now that you understand the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of sports tape, let’s look at how you’re going to leverage its benefits and get back in the game with confidence.

Why use sports tape for the knee?

As a sports enthusiast who’s played at a competitive level, you know firsthand the toll that high-impact activities can have on your knees. Whether it’s pivoting on the basketball court, sprinting on the baseball diamond, or tackling on the football field, your knees have sustained their share of stress. Now, as you coach youth sports teams and watch games, you understand the importance of knee care for athletes at any level.

Sports tape is not just another accessory; it’s a vital component for maintaining knee health. You’ve seen players sidelined because of knee injuries, and you know that proper support can make all the difference. When applied correctly, sports tape acts as a second skin, delivering tailored compression that helps stabilize the knee joint. It’s essential in preventing injury or re-injury, allowing you to play hard without holding back.

What makes sports tape a game-changer is its versatility. You can apply it in various patterns to support the specific area of your knee that needs attention. It could be the patella, ligaments, or surrounding muscles, the tape conforms to your unique anatomy. With every cut, jump, and stride, you’ll feel the support that echoes the natural movement of your knee, a feeling regular knee braces can’t replicate.

Remember, durability is key when you’re in the midst of the action. Sports tape sticks with you – through sweat, rain, and those inevitable water bottle drenches. You might forget you’re wearing it, but it’s there, working in the background, keeping your knee snug and secure. And when it’s time to remove the tape, its skin-friendly adhesive ensures you won’t be left wincing in pain.

By understanding why to use sports tape for your knees, you equip yourself with the knowledge to prevent injuries and enhance your performance. And with your knees well taken care of, you can focus on what you love most – playing the game and guiding your team to victory.

Choosing the right type of sports tape

When you’re ready to give your knee the support it needs, picking the right sports tape is crucial. Remember, not all tapes are created equal. You’ve got options: kinesiology tape, elastic adhesive bandages, and zinc oxide tape to name a few. Each type has its own set of features tailored for different needs. You’ve played your fair share of games and know that the choice largely depends on the kind of support your knee requires.

Kinesiology tape is your go-to if you need something that moves with you. It’s stretchy and mimics the skin’s elasticity, which is why it’s popular among athletes who want to maintain a full range of motion. It’s also the kind that’s been discussed so far; it lifts the skin to ease the pain and facilitates lymphatic drainage to reduce swelling and inflammation.

If you’re looking for more rigid support, maybe to immobilize the joint during recovery, then you might lean towards zinc oxide tape. It’s non-stretch and its strong adhesive makes sure it stays put during the sweat, dives, and tackles. A downside? It can be a bit more unforgiving on the skin when it’s time to peel off.

For those intense workouts or games when you expect to cover a lot of ground and need secure, flexible support, consider an elastic adhesive bandage. This type offers compression and can handle lots of movement, making it a staple for dynamic sports. Plus, you can adjust the tension, giving you tailored support where you need it most.

Think about your playing days, how the right tape could’ve made a difference during those crucial moments. Now, as you coach and guide younger athletes, you understand the importance of choosing the right support. It’s about more than just protection; it’s about enhancing performance without being held back.

Keep your individual needs in mind. If you have sensitive skin, look for hypoallergenic options. Always test a small piece beforehand to ensure there’s no irritation. Whatever your choice, ensure it adheres well to your skin and that you’re comfortable with the amount of support provided. After all, you want to focus on the game, not the tape on your knee.

Preparing the knee for taping

Before you jump into wrapping your knee with sports tape, it’s crucial to prep the area to make sure the tape sticks and does its job effectively. As a sports enthusiast who’s been in the thick of the action, you know that a knee that’s not prepared properly could mean your tape won’t hold up when you make that quick pivot or dash downfield.

Start with a clean canvas. Just like you wouldn’t paint over a dirty wall, don’t apply tape to an unclean knee. Make sure your knee is free of oils, lotions, and sweat. A quick wipe with rubbing alcohol can do the trick, ensuring that the tape adheres securely.

Assess skin sensitivity. You’ve already thought about ensuring you’ve got the right tape for sensitive skin, but it’s always a good idea to perform a patch test if you’re trying out a new brand or type of tape. Put a small piece on your skin and wait a few hours. If there’s any redness or irritation, you might need to choose a different tape.

Trim any hair. If you’ve got hair on your knee, it’s time to grab the clippers. Hair can create a barrier between your skin and the tape, reducing its stickiness. Don’t go too close to the skin – you’re not looking for a completely smooth shave, just a trim.

Apply a base layer if needed. For those whose skin might need extra protection or those who are taping for prolonged periods, consider using a pre-taping underwrap. This thin, foam-like material can help prevent chafing and makes tape removal less of a wince-worthy experience.

Check for injuries. You wouldn’t want to worsen an existing condition. If there’s any swelling or severe pain, it might be best to check in with a healthcare provider before you start taping.

Remember, the better the preparation, the more effective your taping will be. Once you’ve covered all these steps, you’ll be set to move forward with applying the tape correctly and hitting the ground running – or jumping, dodging, throwing; whatever your sport calls for.

Step-by-step guide to taping the knee

Once your knee is prepped and ready, it’s time to get taping. You’ll want to ensure you’ve got your sports tape and any other materials on hand. Remember, you’re aiming for support, not restriction, so keep a balance between the two. Here’s how you can go about it:

  • Position Your Knee: Slightly bend your knee at about a 30-degree angle. This position helps you apply the tape with the right tension, replicating the knee’s natural movement during sports.
  • Anchor Point: Start by placing an anchor strip of tape under your knee, where the joint bends. Ensure it’s smooth and secure but not too tight.
  • Support Strips: Apply strips of tape from the inside of your knee, crossing over the joint, and adhering to the opposite side. These strips will look a bit like an ‘X’ and provide critical stability.
  • Locking Strips: To lock the support strips in place, apply horizontal strips at the top and bottom of your knee. These should overlay the ends of your ‘X’ strips and anchor strip, creating a cohesive band of support.

While taping, always smooth out bubbles and wrinkles, as they can lead to discomfort or even blisters. The tape should feel snug but should not cause any numbness or color change in your leg. If that happens, you’ve applied it too tightly – take it off and try again with less tension.

Remember to move your knee gently after each strip to ensure that the tape isn’t too constrictive. Throughout the process, check your skin for any signs of irritation. You’ve done this enough times to know that comfort and function are king here – no one’s trying to set a trend with these tape jobs.

As a coach and former player, you understand the drive to get back into the game. Taping is just one tool you use to ensure you or your players can perform at their best while protecting one of the most critical joints in an athlete’s body. Keep an eye on how things feel during the activities. If the tape loosens or causes discomfort, you’ll need to adjust or reapply. Go on and give it your best play.

Common mistakes to avoid

When taping your knee for that extra support during your favorite sports, make sure you’re not inadvertently causing more harm than good. As someone who’s been in the thick of baseball, basketball, and football, and now spends time coaching the younger athletes, I’ve seen (and made) my fair share of taping mistakes. Here’s what you’ve got to watch out for:

Using the Wrong Type of Tape: Not all tapes are created equal. For sports applications, you need a tape that’s strong yet flexible. Avoid using non-sports specific tape like electrical or duct tape, which can impede circulation and movement.

Skipping Pre-Tape Skin Preparation: Make sure your skin is clean and dry before applying the tape. Any moisture, oils, or dirt can prevent the tape from sticking properly, which means your knee won’t get the support it needs.

  • Applying Tape Too Tightly: This is a common one. You might think the tighter the better, right? Wrong. If the tape is too tight, it could cut off circulation. You should be able to slide a finger under the tape.
  • Overlapping Strips Incorrectly: The strips should overlap by about half their width. Incorrect overlapping either too much or too little can lead to parts of the knee not getting enough support or the tape peeling off prematurely.
  • Ignoring Pain or Discomfort: If you feel any pain or discomfort after taping up, don’t just power through. This is your body’s way of telling you that something’s not right. It could be too tight, too loose, or the tape might be in the wrong position.

Remember, the key is to balance support with flexibility. You want to feel secure but still be able to move and perform at your best. It’s crucial to get the technique down pat, so take your time and practice. Good taping can make all the difference on the field or court, so make sure you’re doing it right. Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re prepping for a game, and you’ll be set for that slam dunk or touchdown pass.

Additional tips and tricks

As you become more proficient in taping your knee, you’ll want to develop a keen eye for the little things that can make a big difference. Remember, your goal is to maintain peak performance without sacrificing comfort or risking injury. Here are some insider tips and tricks to refine your taping technique.

Skin Preparation Matters
Make sure your skin is clean, dry, and free of oils or lotions before applying the tape. A well-prepped surface ensures that the tape adheres better and stays put. If shaving the area is necessary, do it at least a day before to reduce the risk of irritation. Consider using an adhesive spray or pre-tape, especially if you’re anticipating a sweat-heavy session.

Stretch Effectively, but Not Excessively
The tape’s inherent elasticity is your friend, but overstretching can lead to constriction and discomfort. Aim for a moderate stretch, enough to support the knee without hindering circulation. Practice makes perfect; try different levels of tension to see what works best for your body.

Optimize Tape Placement
Focus not just on the injured or vulnerable area but on the supporting structures around it. Proper placement can enhance stability and proprioception, amplifying the benefits of the taping. Don’t hesitate to seek advice from athletic trainers or physiotherapists experienced in kinesiology taping techniques.

Check for Wear and Tear
Regularly inspect your tape job throughout the day or sporting event. Is it peeling at the edges? Has it become loose? Adjustments may be necessary to keep the support consistent. Ideally, replace the tape every few days to maintain optimal support and hygiene.

Balance Is Key
When applying tape to your knee, consider the balance between movement and support. Your knee should feel secure, yet capable of the dynamic motion necessary for your sport. Tape can empower you to push your limits, but it should never hold you back.

By employing these additional tips and tricks, you’ll enhance your taping mastery and contribute greatly to your athletic performance.

Remember, these are guidelines based on experience – your individual requirements may differ. Listen to your body and adjust as needed. There’s no substitute for personal trial and error. Keep experimenting, and you’ll find the perfect balance that works for your knee and your sport.


Now that you’ve mastered the art of knee taping, you’re ready to take on your sports activities with confidence. Remember, practice makes perfect, and the more you refine your technique, the better the support you’ll provide your knee. Listen to your body and adjust as needed—your knee will thank you. Get out there and enjoy your active lifestyle, knowing you’ve got the know-how to keep your knee safe and supported. Happy taping!

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of tape should I use to support my knee during sports?

Use a rigid, non-stretch tape for structural support, and a kinesiology tape for dynamic support that allows movement. Choose a tape that’s skin-friendly and strong enough to withstand your activity.

How do I prepare my skin before taping my knee?

Clean your skin of oils and dirt with soap and water. Shave the area if necessary to prevent discomfort upon removal, and consider applying a skin-prep product for better tape adherence.

Can taping my knee too tightly cause problems?

Yes, applying tape too tightly can restrict blood flow and cause swelling or numbness. Ensure the tape is firm but not constricting, allowing for a normal range of motion.

How do you correctly overlap the strips of tape?

Overlap each strip of tape by about half its width over the previous strip. This ensures full coverage and support without gaps or bunching.

What should I do if I feel pain or discomfort after taping my knee?

If you experience pain or discomfort, remove the tape immediately. Pain may indicate improper application or an underlying issue that needs medical attention.

Are there any additional tips for refining my knee taping technique?

To refine your technique, focus on stretching the tape just enough to offer support without over-tightening, accurately placing the tape over the area needing support, and regularly checking for signs of wear or loose edges.

How do I find the balance between movement and support when taping my knee?

It’s crucial to apply the tape with the knee in a slightly bent position for dynamic support that allows movement. The tape should not restrict your full range of motion, yet should provide adequate support to the affected area.

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