Should Volleyball Players Wear Ankle Braces? Pros & Cons

should volleyball players wear ankle braces

Volleyball is a sport that is known for high intensity, speed, quick directional changes, and remarkable vertical jumps.

The game’s dynamic nature increases the possibility of sprains and other ankle-related issues.

Here, the question arises: “Should volleyball players wear ankle braces?”

Key Takeaway: Yes, volleyball players should consider wearing ankle braces as a preventative measure to reduce the risk of ankle injuries, which are common due to their high-impact movements.

However, the decision should be individualized, considering personal comfort and any history of ankle injuries.

In this guide, I will tackle the critical question of whether volleyball players should wear ankle braces, examining the pros and cons and understanding why players choose to use them.

So, whether you’re new to ankle braces or want to learn more about their benefits for volleyball, this article will guide you toward the best decision for your athletic needs.

Why Do Volleyball Players Wear Ankle Braces?

Volleyball players are known for their agility and high-flying actions on the court.

This intensity of the game contributes to the risk of injuries, particularly to the ankles.

Surprisingly, fifteen percent of all sports-related injuries are ankle-related, marking it the most common injury among athletes. 

This statistic shows the importance of understanding why and how these injuries occur in volleyball, where the action never stops.

The front-row players, like Opposite Hitter and Outside Hitter, are more affected by them.

The reason is the nature of their role, which requires them to execute quick, lateral movements to block or spike the ball.

These kinds of high-intensity activities naturally increase the risk of ankle sprains.

For example, when players repeatedly jump and land on uneven surfaces or accidentally on another player’s foot, the likelihood of ankle injury significantly rises.

The most common injury they face is a lateral ankle sprain.

This type of sprain occurs when a player lands in such a way that the outside part of their foot bears the brunt of the impact.

It causes the lateral ankle ligaments to stretch beyond their normal range.

Such injuries are painful and can lead to prolonged periods away from the game for recovery.

The recovery period is the most painful time for any volleyball enthusiast. Right?

A volleyball player peacefully walking with ankle brace

Given these risks, it’s clear why ankle braces have become a popular protective measure among volleyball players.

They provide the necessary support and stabilization to reduce the risk of lateral ankle sprains and other related injuries.

Ankle braces also play a crucial role in stabilizing the ankle after an injury.

They ensure that the ankle regains strength and flexibility without further risk of injury.

This support is vital for the players looking to return to the court confidently.

Do Ankle Braces Affect Performance?

The impact of ankle braces on volleyball player performance is a complex question with no simple yes or no answer.

There are a few factors that you should keep in mind before concluding.

Rigid braces can restrict ankle movement, impacting jumping, agility, and overall performance.

However, modern braces offer improved flexibility while still providing support. 

Some coaches also believe that overreliance on braces can lead to neglecting preventive measures like strengthening exercises.

Also, wearing braces can cause discomfort or skin irritation for some players, especially if not fitted properly or worn for extended periods.

Remember that ankle braces, by design, offer stability and support to prevent injuries but may also influence an athlete’s ability to perform specific movements at full capacity.

Specifically, they can restrict the ankle’s natural flexibility and movement, potentially decreasing vertical jump height. 

So, the decision to wear an ankle brace depends on individual preference, injury history, and the type of brace.

a volleyball player having ankle brace on his ankle to avoid injury

Some players simply prefer added support, while others prioritize freedom of movement.

Most importantly, coaches can provide valuable guidance based on individual needs and playing style.

My recommendation is to consult a healthcare professional for it.

He can assess your needs and recommend the best course of action, including whether or not to wear a brace.

Pros and Cons of Ankle Braces for Volleyball

Hitting the court with confidence is every volleyball player’s dream.

But a sprain can bring that dream crashing down in an instant.

Every ankle brace promises a shield against the injury and a boost to your performance.

But are they a game-changer, or do they come with hidden drawbacks that affect your agility?

Let’s first discuss the pros of wearing ankle braces on the court.

  • Knowing your ankles are protected can free your mind from worry and allow you to focus on your performance and utilize your full potential.
  • They can significantly reduce the risk of sprains, especially for players with a history of them. It means fewer missed games and more time perfecting your skills.
  • If you’ve already experienced an ankle sprain, braces can help manage swelling and fast recovery, getting you back in action faster.
  • Braces come in various colors and styles, letting you express your personality while safeguarding your ankles.
  • They provide better balance and stability, helpful for powerful jumps and game-winning digs.

Some of the possible downsides of wearing ankle braces are:

  • Relying solely on braces can lead to neglecting other preventive measures like strengthening exercises. Remember, a strong foundation is key for long-term ankle health.
  • Wearing braces for extended periods or without proper fitting can cause discomfort or skin irritation.
  • Overreliance on braces might decrease your focus on proper footwork and technique.
  • While generally affordable, high-end braces with specific features might come at a higher price point.
  • Rigid braces can limit ankle movement and can impact the jumping ability. 

Is it Okay to Wear an Ankle Brace All Day?

No, wearing an ankle brace all day is not recommended because continuous usage can weaken the tendons that naturally support the ankle joint.

Wearing it throughout the day can also affect your gait (how you walk) and cause discomfort.

However, there are specific circumstances where it might be necessary.

After a severe ankle sprain, your doctor or physical therapist might recommend wearing a brace all day for the initial healing period.

It’s also advisable to wear a brace during activities with a high risk of ankle injury.

Again, it depends on personal preferences, like I am uncomfortable wearing it for more than an hour.

But, some of my friends have no issue, even if they wear it for 10 hours.

A player tightening his ankle brace

Do College Volleyball Players Wear Ankle Braces?

Whether or not college volleyball players wear ankle braces depends significantly on the individual coach and the team’s philosophy.

Personally, I highly recommend ankle braces for my players.

Volleyball is a sport filled with quick movements that stress the ankles. 

A good ankle brace can be the difference between a minor twist and a season-ending injury.

I also understand that some players might feel restricted or uncomfortable wearing a brace.

If one of my athletes genuinely feels that an ankle brace hinders their performance, I won’t force them to wear it.

However, I will strongly encourage them to try different brace styles (some are very lightweight and flexible) to find one they can tolerate. 

Final Words

Whether you’re an experienced volleyball player or new to the sport, understanding the benefits and potential drawbacks of ankle braces is essential.

Ultimately, choosing to wear it comes down to individual preference, injury history, and a discussion with a healthcare professional.

If you have concerns about ankle stability or have experienced previous injuries, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor or coach about whether the ankle brace is the right protective gear for you. 

Remember that taking precautionary measures to safeguard your ankles can help keep you on the court, playing the game you love.

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