Best Knee Pads for Basketball: 2020 Buyer’s Guide and Product Recommendations

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Whether you’re on the court practicing your crossover moves or taking on dribbling drills, having the best basketball knee pads can provide the type of protection you need against any potential knee injuries. Nowadays, knee pads are more popular than ever since they’ve been proven to work and are designed to minimize bruising, severe pain and discomfort, and the type of knee injuries that can come as a result of a tough practice or an intense game. Unlike braces, knee pads should allow you to run up and down the court, make that jump shot, or weave around player after player freely, without the pads restricting your movement.

Since their rise in popularity, new models of knee pads have been flooding the market which can make it difficult to choose a pair that not only works, but a comfortable pair that can accommodate your playing style.  Because of this, I have created an in-depth buyer’s guide that will discuss the different types of knee pads available, how they differ from standard knee sleeves and how some knee protection gear tends to share some of the same features. I’ve reviewed many of the top-selling models on the market and I’ve narrowed it down to the best six sets.

These knee pads are not only thick and durable, but they’ll also provide the type of protection and comfort you need when you’re playing on the court. They’re also very flexible, so they won’t restrict how you move during a game.

The buyer’s guide will also discuss the type of features you should look for before you buy, how to tell a high-quality pair of knee pads from pads that will quickly wear out over a matter of weeks, and what type of padding and material to look for that can ensure both comfort and durability.

Below, you’ll find a chart that will list some of the similarities and differences between each of these pairs, how they rated, what you can expect in terms of price, and the types of features they have to offer.

Basketball Knee Pads Comparison Chart

ProductStyleSize OptionsCostRating
McDavid Hex Knee Pads
McDavid
Pad/compression6$$$
Mcdavid 6440 Hex Knee Pads
Mdavid 6440
Pads7$$$
BERTER Anti Collision Knee Pads
Berter
Pad/compression4$$
HOMZHEN Knee Sleeves
Homzhen main
Pad/compression3$
Cantop Knee Pads
Cantop
Pad/compression4$
COOLOMG Pad Protector
COOLOMNG
Pad4$
O-Best Knee Pads
O-best
Pad/compression4$

McDavid Hex Knee Pads Compression Leg Sleeve for Basketball

McDavid

Our Rating: (5/5)

This pair of compression knee pads offers the best of both worlds, featuring both compression material and thick padding that’s designed to protect you on the court while improving circulation and minimizing pain and inflammation. The pads feature the brand’s patented hex protection, which involves closed cell foam padding that’s designed to protect the knees for injury upon impact.

While many knee pads can cause discomfort and chafing due to a lack of breathability, the foam in these pads features moisture-wicking technology that will allow you to remain cool and dry as you fly down the court. This is all due to the padding’s moisture management technology. These pads are also available in six size options, allowing you to choose the perfect size to keep the pads securely in place, without causing irritation or increased swelling. The extended length of the pads will also protect the legs from burns, cuts, and scrapes. The compression material will not only provide pain relief, but it will keep your leg muscles warm, which can reduce both cramping and fatigue, allowing you to play at your best, for longer.

Pros

  • Compression material
  • Thick padding
  • Moisture-wicking technology
  • Six size options to choose from
  • Pads will remain securely in place
  • Breathable

Cons

  • Runs a size small

Conclusion

As you can see, these pads cover all the bases. If you’re looking for both protection and compression, these pads deliver. The moisture-wicking technology will keep your skin dry and cool, while the highly breathable padding makes these pads incredibly comfortable to wear out on the court. The flexible material will not restrict your movements on the court and will remain securely in place, so you can enjoy the max benefits during a game or intense practice. This pair earned a rating of five out of five stars.

Mcdavid 6440 Hex Knee Pads

Mdavid 6440

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

These Mcdavid pads come equipped with their patented and popular hex foam that’s designed to wick moisture away from the skin, which will prevent rashes, chafing, and general irritation. The padding is highly breathable, so you’ll remain cool and dry as you play. The closed-cell foam padding technology will also provide top of the line protection against collision and contact, providing ultimate protection when you need it the most. The pads themselves are best described as highly durable, so you can wear them for both indoor and outdoor courts. These pads can be used on the shins, elbows, and knees. They’re also washable, so you can toss them in the wash after a game and keep them smelling fresh.

Pros

  • Hex foam technology
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Thick padding
  • Flexible
  • Can be used for knees, shins, and elbows
  • Low price

Cons

  • Pads can run a size small
  • Does not provide full leg protection

Conclusion

This set of pads is very versatile and can be worn on the shins, elbows, and knees. You can also wear them for other types of indoor and outdoor sports such as wrestling and volleyball.

The thick padding provides ultimate protection against contact and injury upon impact. The pads are highly breathable and feature moisture-wicking technology that will keep your skin cool and dry. These pads are very flexible, so while they may remain firmly in place while you play, they also won’t restrict your movement out on the court. This pair earned a rating of four and a half out of five stars.

BERTER Anti Collision Knee Pads Support

Berter

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This pair by Berter features ultimate collision protection thanks to the honeycomb pad design that provides top of the line support upon impact. The fabric and padding are highly breathable and feature moisture-wicking technology that’s designed to draw sweat away from the skin, keeping you cool and dry as you play. This makes the pads more comfortable to wear for the duration of a game or practice session.

The anti-slip design will keep the pads firmly in place so you won’t find yourself constantly pulling them back up. This is due to the special anti-skid strip that prevents the pad from rolling down or sliding. The longer length of the pad makes them perfect for a wide range of sports and will also protect the skin from burns, scrapes, and bruises.

Pros

  • Breathable
  • Anti-slip technology
  • Moisture-wicking technology
  • Thick padding
  • Durable
  • Low price

Cons

  • Only four size options available
  • Not recommended for outdoor court use
  • Not washing machine safe

Conclusion

These pads feature anti-slip technology, moisture-wicking material designed to keep you cool and dry, and a longer length that can help to protect your legs from scrapes, burns, bruising, and more. The thick padding can provide the type of protection you need from an accidental fall, but the pads remain flexible, so they won’t restrict your movements on the court. I gave this pair a rating of four and a half out of five stars.

HOMZHEN Knee Compression Sleeves

Homzhen main

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

These pads are made out of highly breathable, elastic lycra material and come equipped with thick EVA foam that’s designed to protect the knees upon impact. The compression material will provide pain relief and can reduce inflammation. They’re also designed to keep the muscles warm, which can prevent cramping and strains. The pads are available in both hexagon and honeycomb styles. While the padding may be thick, the pads themselves remain very flexible so they won’t restrict your movement on the court. This pair is also made out of tear-resistant material, which makes them perfect for both indoor and outdoor court use. Each pad also comes with an anti-slip strip that’s designed to keep the pads securely in place and will also prevent rolling.

Pros

  • Breathable
  • Anti-slip technology
  • Flexible material
  • Compression and padding benefits
  • Low price
  • Perfect for indoor and outdoor use
  • Made with EVA foam

Cons

  • Only available in three size options
  • Not washing machine safe

Conclusion

These affordable, durable pads can provide the type of protection you need, whether you’re playing on an indoor or outdoor court. The flexible material and anti-slip technology will keep the pads in place without restricting movement. The thick EVA foam will significantly reduce your chances of a knee injury, while the moisture-wicking technology will keep your skin cool and dry. Their flexible design will not restrict your movements on the court, while the anti-slip technology works to keep them securely in place. I gave these pads a rating of four and a half stars out of five.

Cantop Knee Pads Long Compression Leg Sleeves

Cantop

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This pair by Cantop features hexagonal honeycomb padding that’s designed to provide ultimate protection upon impact. The material is made out of high elastic lycra material, so you can move around freely on the court. These ergonomic pads are also highly breathable, thanks to the special moisture-wicking material. This pair can be used for basketball, volleyball, and more. The pads are designed to protect both the knees and legs, thanks to the longer length. The compression material will reduce inflammation and pain while promoting improved blood circulation.

Pros

  • Breathable
  • Moisture-wicking material
  • Flexible
  • Remains securely in place
  • Low price
  • Ergonomic design

Cons

  • May not be appropriate to wear in warmer temperatures
  • Not designed for outdoor use

Conclusion

If you’re looking for pads that are designed to last, then your search is over. This pair comes equipped with thick padding that will provide protection against falls and can prevent bruising, scraps, and burns. The moisture-wicking material will keep the skin nice and dry, while the Lycra material is very stretchy and flexible, so it will not restrict your movement on the court. This pair earned a rating of four and a half out of five stars.

COOLOMG Pad Crash Proof Anti-slip Basketball Leg Knee Short Sleeve Protector

COOLOMNG

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This pad is sold alone, so if you purchase one and like how it feels, you’ll have to order an additional pad. The fact that the pad isn’t sold as a pair is a drawback for some potential buyers. The pad is made out of breathable, flexible lycra material and comes equipped with tough EVA foam which can provide all the protection you need from impact, scrapes, and more. The pad also features a non-slip strip which will prevent it from sliding or rolling.

The material can also provide UV protection and is made out of tear-resistant material. Both features make this pad suitable for outdoor and indoor use. Another huge plus is the fact that the pad is covered by a lifetime warranty and guarantee. If the pad tears or you’re unsatisfied, you can request a replacement or refund, no questions asked.

Pros

  • Designed for indoor and outdoor use
  • Eva foam
  • UV protection
  • Made out of tear-resistant material
  • Flexible
  • Low price

Cons

  • Does not feature moisture-wicking technology
  • Not breathable
  • Includes one pad only

Conclusion

Since the pad doesn’t feature moisture-wicking material and doesn’t have a reputation for breathability, it may be a bad choice to wear in warmer weather. However, it’s made out of tear-resistant materials and thick EVA foam, so it’s perfect for use on indoor and outdoor courts. The pad itself is very flexible and comfortable and will remain firmly in place as you run up and down the court. However, the fact that only one pad is included can be a major drawback for the potential buyer on a budget.

O-Best [Upgraded Version] Basketball Knee Pads

O-best

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This shield-shaped pad is said to provide better protection against impact compared to other pads that feature a square-shaped design. It also comes equipped with non-slip technology which prevents the pads from sliding down or rolling. The fabric is highly breathable and flexible, consisting of spandex and polyamide. The moisture-wicking technology will draw sweat away from the skin, preventing irritation and improving comfort, keeping the wearer cool and dry.

This pair is made out of high-density stable fiber textile, which improves durability, allowing you to wear them on indoor and outdoor courts. The longer length protects the upper and lower leg against bruising, scrapes, and more.

Pros

  • Breathable
  • Flexible
  • Perfect for indoor and outdoor use
  • Moisture-wicking technology
  • Non-slip silicone strip prevents pads from sliding or rolling
  • Low price

Cons

  • Longer length can make the pads a poor choice for warm weather
  • Not designed for children under the age of twelve

Conclusion

These pads are perfect for adults, teens, and children over the age of twelve, while the longer length of the pads can allow them to protect your skin from scrapes and burns, it also makes them too hot to wear in higher temperatures. The thick shield-shaped pads do a better job of protecting the knees, while the moisture-wicking materials will keep your skin cool and dry, preventing rashes and general irritation. Their flexible design will also allow you to easily run up and down the court, which is partially due to the non-slip strip that prevents the pads from sliding or rolling. Overall, this pair is a must-have if you normally enjoy playing on indoor and outdoor courts. I gave this pair a rating of four and a half out of five stars.

Basketball Knee Pads Buyer’s Guide

Whether you play basketball casually or you’re on a team, chances are you already know that staying injury-free is crucial. Considering how common knee injuries are in the game it’s especially important to protect them since they’re highly vulnerable to injury on the court. The best basketball knee pads can help.

These knee pads are designed to protect your knees from damage, in the event of a fall. Some models will also help to minimize pain by providing constant pressure on and around the knees as you play. This type of added support can significantly help to minimize both inflammation and pain, especially for players who have recently suffered an injury or are recovering from surgery.

While these knee pads are specifically designed for basketball players, they can also be used by other athletes for sports including football and volleyball. Considering the popularity of the game, the market is exploding with top models that are designed to keep you healthy, prevent injury, and improve comfort while you play.

However, there are many different brands of knee pads on the market. Some will only provide a cushioned design to protect the knees on impact, others also work as compression sleeves, which can provide instant relief. Below, I’ll cover the differences between knee pads, compression sleeves, and compression knee pads, in order to help you narrow down your choices and find the right type of knee pad, in addition to a pair of pads that can provide the type of protection you need.

Much-Need Protection on the Court

The purpose of wearing knee pads is much different compared to wearing a knee brace or knee sleeves. In fact, their main purpose is to prevent damage upon impact, whether you’re running into other players or you accidentally fall on the court. Whereas the purpose of a knee brace is to prevent damage to the tendons and ligaments. Sleeves provide much-needed compression in order to reduce inflammation.

In the past few years, these pads have become very popular with basketball players since they allow them to move and attack with an improved sense of security. However, there are some pads that can also provide compression, and can also prevent floor burns, reduce pain, and cushion your fall. If you’re familiar with the basketball rules, then you know there is a strict uniform requirement. Fortunately, knee pads meet these guidelines in most cases. If you’re not sure if you can wear full-length pads on the court, speak with your coach for more information.

Knee Pads and Sleeves: Key Differences

cross play

While many of these sleeves and pads function the same and both have a goal of protecting the knees, there is a slight difference between each type. Knee pads that come equipped with thick padding or cushioning are designed to protect knees in the event of a serious fault. The knee sleeves are designed to provide tight compression which can help to reduce inflammation and pain. However, some sleeves will also come equipped with some sort of padding.

Pads and sleeves can also both work to increase blood circulation and improve comfort while you play. Knee sleeves with pads are a great choice for someone who is rehabbing an injury, treating a past injury, or players that suffer from joint stiffness and chronic conditions such as arthritis.

Knee Sleeves

As I mentioned, knee sleeves are designed to offer mild to moderate compression that can provide many benefits such as a reduction in inflammation and reduced pain. Sleeves consist of a stretchy material that will fit snugly on and around the knee. However, you must be careful not to purchase a size that’s too small since it can increase pain and inflammation. Many knee sleeves now come equipped with padding, which is why people tend to use the term knee sleeve and knee pad interchangeably. However, sleeves cannot provide the type of padding that most knee pads do and knee pads cannot provide the type of compression that a sleeve can. Yet, there are hybrid designs that work equally well to provide compression and protection against a fall. So, you can choose between compression sleeves or pads, or opt for a hybrid pair.

If you’re considering purchasing a basic pair of sleeves, while they are great for their recovery and performance benefits they don’t offer the type of protection from a potential injury that knee pads do.

Material

The materials that are used to create knee pads is also important. Some models are made out of high-density foam for the padding, which is designed to wick moisture away from the skin. Others offer improved elasticity, in addition to an anti-slip strip which prevents the pads from sliding down your legs or rolling.

Size

These pads are available in a wide variety of sizes ranging from extra-extra small to extra-extra-large. Smaller pads are typically designed for children. It’s important to purchase pads in the correct size. However, because the size can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, it’s crucial that you pay close attention to the brand’s sizing chart in order to determine which size will provide the type of compression and protection you need.

Functionality

man jumping

Functionality is also very important. You’ll want to ensure that you don’t end up with a pair of pads that will limit your range of motion, making it uncomfortable to run or move quickly in a crossover move. The pads should be thick and flexible. Pads that are stiff and too heavily padded can restrict your movements on the court, causing you to run slower or they can make your movements stiff and almost robotic. If you end up purchasing pads that prevent you from moving around freely on the court, then the odds are you won’t wear them for long or often.

Compression

Knee pads are often made out of the same type of material that compression sleeves are. The point of this material is to improve blood flow to the area. Some pads will use light to moderate compression which will be applied below and above the knee in order to improve circulation to the calf muscles, quadriceps, and hamstrings. This type of improve blood flow means that the muscles will remain warm which can help to prevent muscle strains and serious injuries. Improved circulation can also promote a faster recovery time after an injury or a strenuous practice or game.

Knee sleeves are great for the performance and recovery benefits however offer little protection from injury or stability for rehabilitation purposes. If you are recovering from an ACL knee injury you would be better off choosing a basketball knee brace as they offer much more lateral support to the knee joint.

Comfort

How comfortable or uncomfortable a set of pads are will also have a major impact on how often you wear them. Look for a pair that is designed for long use. The goal is to find a pair that you can wear throughout the duration of practice or a game. If the pads fit too tightly it can cause swelling after hours of moving around on the court. If the pads are too loose, then they will start to slip down your leg as you move. As I mentioned earlier, a proper fit is essential in order for the pads to be effective.

Foam

Knee pads obviously come equipped with a type of thick padding which is useful when it comes to protecting and the knees from potential injuries. Knee sleeves tend to come with a thin layer of padding on and around the knee, but unlike knee pads, the type of padding found in sleeves will not provide protection upon impact. Look for a padding thickness of one to two inches. Padding less than one inch cannot provide the type of protection you need, while padding that’s over two inches can make it difficult to run. Additionally, EVA or hex foam both offer top of the line protection, so make sure you look for pads that offer this type of foam.

Indoor and Outdoor Court Use

Do you normally play basketball on an indoor court or outdoor court? If you normally play outdoors, then heavily padded, durable knee pads are a must. I recommend choosing a pair that’s specifically designed for both indoor and outdoor use. Models that are designed for outdoor game time are often thicker and more durable than those that are specifically designed for indoor court use only.

Knee Injuries and How to Prevent Them

young women

If you’ve been playing basketball for years, then you probably already know that knee injuries are among the most common type, and at times it can be the most serious. Severe injury can keep you off the court all season long, in addition to spending time working hard to rehab the injury itself. The first step towards protecting yourself out on the court is to wear knee pads. But by learning about potential knee injuries, how they’re caused, and what you can do to prevent them, you can ensure you remain safe on the court by wearing the proper gear that can provide top of the line protection.

Sprains

Knee sprains involve injury to the ligaments that occur when the knee is overstretched. When you’re playing basketball this type of over-stretching can happen when you stop suddenly while running, or if you fall and get up too quickly.  It can also be caused by a rapid change in direction. These types of sudden movements have an impact on the ligaments that join the bones together. This type of recurring injury can make the ligaments weaker, which will make you more prone to knee injuries in the future. If you have a history of knee sprains, then wearing pads made with compression material can keep your knee securely in place while promoting better circulation. This can help with a healing sprain or with general aches and pain. Keeping the muscles warm by wearing one of these compression pads will also help to minimize your chances of reinjuring your knee.

Meniscus Tears

This is one of the most common knee injuries and it involves serious trauma to the knee. When you’re playing, a tear can occur when you twist your knees awkwardly and suddenly. These injuries can often be difficult to heal due to the lack of blood flow to the knee. However, wearing knee pads during the recovery process can help to increase blood flow and improve circulation. Knee pads can also protect against this type of injury if the tear is caused by sudden impact to the knees.

Bruising

While you may think that some bruises may not be enough to keep you off the court if you’re dealing with extensive bruising or severe bone bruising, this type of injury can keep you off the court for several weeks. Knees pads can provide the type of protection against impact by cushioning your fall should you land on your knees or run into an opposing player.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, wearing the best knee pads for basketball can keep you safe and protected on the court, significantly reducing your risk of an injury. The goal of this guide is to help you find a pair that can meet your needs, whether you’re rehabbing an injury, you need added protection, or you’re dealing with a chronic condition such as arthritis or knee sprains. I hope these product recommendations and the buyer’s guide has helped you learn about the differences between knee sleeves, braces,  and pads, how each type can help, and how finding the right pair of pads can improve your performance out on the court.