Can Basketball Players Wear Gloves?

When you watch a basketball game, you do not typically see players wearing gloves. Many people would snicker at the sight of a basketball player dribbling down the court with a pair of colorful gloves. However, why do players rarely wear gloves on the court? Is it legal for basketball players to wear gloves during their games? 

Basketball players can wear gloves. Not only is it legal to wear gloves in the NBA, but several players have also done it already in the course of the league’s history. The rarity of gloves in basketball is due to their impracticality. While gloves are perfectly legal, they are not very useful.

Gloves can offer basketball players a very particular set of benefits for specific situations. Their general impracticality typically overshadows these benefits. Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of wearing gloves while playing basketball. 

Is it Legal to Wear Gloves While Playing Basketball?

Almost all of the players in the NBA are going to be seen dribbling down the court, passing to their teammates, and going up for rebounds without the use of gloves. The image of a basketball player wearing gloves is something that is unnatural to even the most casual fan. Still, basketball players are allowed to wear them. 

Players have used gloves in the NBA in the past. These instances have been extremely few and far between, but nevertheless, it has been done. The NBA does not place any serious regulations on players opting to wear gloves.

This is good news for players that are looking to use gloves to aid them in the following ways.

  • Protect their hands
  • Acquire better grip
  • Add a little flair to their game

Tim Duncan wore gloves in a few of his games when he was playing with the LA Lakers. It is such an uncommon image to see a professional basketball player wearing gloves in a game that it is hard to imagine what Duncan looked like with gloves on the court unless you saw it personally.

Why Do Players Choose Not to Wear Gloves?

The number one reason that people are not likely to see many players sporting a pair of basketball gloves during a game is that they are impractical. Players are convinced that the gloves interfere with their abilities to play the game. Whether it is due to a lack of experience with the gear or a fault with the gloves, themselves remains to be seen.  

A few of the reasons players avoid wearing gloves during a game include:

  • The players’ hands will not be able to feel the ball as well.
  • The grip on the glove could create problems for handling the ball well.
  • It looks a little strange and can cause distractions.
  • Many people learn to play the game without gloves.

Certain gloves, like those used in football, offer the wearer a tremendous increase in grip. This grip can be counterproductive to a basketball player when he or she is shooting. When a player is making a shot, finesse and precision are the most important pieces of the equation. Too much grip could throw the balance off shots.

Most players are not willing to deviate from the traditions and rituals of their games. They have spent years of their lives mastering the various skills and disciplines of the game through practice and repetition. Traditionally, players will learn to play without gloves. Introducing gloves creates an unnecessary obstacle to overcome.

When a player has learned to play the game a certain way, they are not likely to change things and relearn the techniques they have mastered so that they can wear a pair of gloves. It is like a self-fulfilling prophecy in a way, but players have avoided gloves for decades, and it seems as though they always will. 

Does Anyone Wear Gloves to Play Basketball?

If one were to search basketball gloves online, they would discover that there is such a product on the market. So, to whom are these basketball gloves being marketed? While most players avoid playing competitively in gloves, there is a proportion that uses different kinds of gloves to aid them in their training.

Any players that do use gloves usually opt for a pair that is missing the fingers. These fingerless gloves can help a player acquire a better grip without sacrificing the sensitivity needed to shoot accurately. Fingerless gloves can also provide added padding to the palms and knuckles of the player for extra protection while playing on a hard court. 

In the rare chances that gloves are used, it is typically done during training. Certain gloves can inhibit the wearer’s grip, which can be used to train the player’s ball-handling abilities. These gloves can be used at irregular intervals to stress the player’s grip, exposing them to adverse conditions that will make normal situations seem even better. 

Players that are training outside in cold conditions might opt to wear gloves to ensure their comfort and retain the dexterity of their fingers. Cold conditions can make a player’s hands react slower than they normally would in more common conditions. These players will choose gloves to keep their hands warm and their shots on target.

Can Basketball Gloves Be Effective?

When a player trains with gloves day after day and incorporates them into their technique, they can be very effective. When gloves are treated as an extension of the player’s self, they can give him or her an advantage over their competitors. Added grip, extra padding, and some unique flair are all benefits of wearing gloves in basketball.

The best basketball gloves will offer players:

  • Better grip for catching passes
  • Added support for the wrists
  • Fingerless design to limit interference with shooting

Some strategies call for players to receive long passes. Gloves with added grip would offer them added security and help them retain possession of the ball. When players go up for the ball against an opponent, they will have a unique advantage. In these situations, the extra grip can literally be a game-changer for the player wearing them.

Gloves can offer players protection when they fall on the hard wooden court. The palms will be more protected, which can help when players go to brace themselves in a fall. Certain gloves can offer support to the wrists as well. This added support will reduce the risk of players injuring their wrists during a fall or in general play as well. 

Some people have speculated that wearing gloves could offer benefits to players in the wake of the widespread illness. Wearing gloves could help stop the spread of germs and keep the game safer for players. However, it is unlikely that the NBA will adopt this policy in the near future. 


Although a person is not likely to see their favorite basketball player dribbling down the court in a pair of gloves anytime soon, it is possible. The NBA allows players to wear gloves during games. Players have even worn them in the past. Just because it is not common does not mean that it is forbidden by the governing body of the game.

Players simply choose not to wear them. Gloves can be hot, uncomfortable, and impractical to players who are not used to them. Their added grip can even hinder a player’s efforts to shoot the ball. It is because of these reasons that basketball players tend to shy away from wearing gloves during their games.

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