Updated May 2022
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Buying guide for Best athletic tapes

For competitive and casual athletes alike, having the right equipment impacts the quality of every game and/or training session. In fact, the accessories you wear have a great deal of influence on your performance, which is why athletic tape is embraced by so many athletes. When wrapped correctly, athletic tape provides support, increases circulation, and reduces swelling.

While athletic tape is often associated with contact sport players, any athlete can benefit from wrapping. The thin, self-sticking support is an ideal alternative to bulky, poorly fitting braces. As it’s applied directly onto the body, tape is less noticeable and less obstructive. It allows for a completely customized wrap, and with proper wrapping techniques, you’ll feel an immediate difference when it comes to support. After you complete your training, it’s easy to remove the tape before you hit the shower.

If you’re ready to take your games or training sessions to the next level, it’s time to consider athletic tape. Whether you’re thinking about traditional or kinesiology tape, we have a complete buying guide to assist you in making a choice.

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To achieve precise placement of kinesiology tape, enlist the help of another person. They can navigate awkward angles and hard-to-reach areas.

Key considerations

Traditional tape

Traditional tape aims to immobilize parts of the body that are weakened or injured. It’s also used as a preventive measure, in which athletes wrap areas that are highly susceptible to injury due to the nature of their sport. Taut wraps compress bones and tissues, especially in contact sports like boxing, and offer additional protection during impact. To apply a traditional wrap, it’s recommended to apply a pre-wrap first, followed by the traditional wrap. It takes some practice to master an effective wrap, especially on yourself, though it’s well worth the learning curve.

Traditional tape is removed and discarded immediately after you complete your game or training session. If it’s not a self-tearing or peelable style of tape, you’ll need scissors to remove it.


For those who use regular tape, it’s not recommended to apply it directly to your skin. Instead, pre-wrap, also called underwrap, is wrapped in its place first. Pre-wrap is a thin, stretchy foam roll and costs about the same amount as athletic tape. The tape sticks to this wrap instead of your skin, which means a reduced risk of skin irritation, chafing, and slippage from sweat.

Kinesiology tape

Kinesiology tape, unlike traditional tape, allows for flexibility through dynamic support. It also promotes good circulation, which cuts down inflammation and swelling that can limit or weigh down your body. Kinesiology tape is constructed with a degree of elasticity so your range of motion isn’t inhibited, which is especially important if your performance has a high focus on consistent form. Instead of pre-wrapping and wrapping, this tape is applied in strips directly onto the skin. It’s is also worn for between one to five days at a time, so it’s waterproof and sweatproof, offering greater therapeutic benefits.

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For your safety
For those with athletic tape that requires scissors, be sure to clean them often. Wipe down scissors with alcohol to make sure you don’t transfer any debris or dirt from the blades to the tape for a clean wrap every time.



Athletic tape is comprised of material and adhesive. Traditional athletic tape is made of cotton or cotton blend, whereas kinesiology tape could have cotton in its material blend but also features other synthetic materials for elasticity and long-lasting wear. As far as adhesive goes, there are options for hypoallergenic, latex-free, or medical-grade tape for those with sensitive skin.


Traditional athletic tape comes mostly in white and, while harder to find, black. Kinesiology tape, however, has quite a color variety. Kinesiology tape comes in over 10 colors per most brands, so if you’re looking for a splash of style or are trying to match your team colors, you’ll likely find one that works. Some kinesiology tape goes beyond solid color and incorporates patterns and designs, including stripes and camo.

Cut method

When it comes to removing athletic tape, both from the roll and your body, there are some options to choose from. Some regular athletic and kinesiology tape products require scissors for a clean cut, as their fabric weaves aren’t designed to simply rip apart. There are, however, some types of athletic tape that do have easy-rip features, which are popular for athletes who need to detach pieces from a roll with one hand. Some kinesiology tape also comes pre-cut and may be uniquely shaped to fit certain areas of the body, such as a wishbone shape to support the shin and knee. They may also come in individual strips that can be overlapped and applied with ease.

Athletic tape prices

Athletic tape generally costs between $10 and $20.


At the low end, between $10 and $13, you can expect to purchase a single roll of kinesiology tape or a value pack that includes a couple rolls of regular tape.


Products in the middle of the range are priced between $14 and $16 and include value packs of both kinesiology and regular tape.


At the top of the range, between $17 and $20, is where you get the most for your money in a value pack. These packs often include e-book instructions, carry cases, and a variation in the size of the tape.


  • Give athletic tape as a gift. For the dedicated athlete, a gift of quality athletic tape will be greatly appreciated and most definitely used.

  • Keep scissors with your tape kit. Even if your athletic tape rips off the roll and is designed for easy removal, it’s a good idea to have scissors on hand anyway. In the event you need to remove the wrap immediately, scissors speed up the process.

  • Store athletic tape in a dust-free container. For a smooth, solid stick every application, keep athletic tape in a dust-free container. If dust particles accumulate, the adhesive could be less effective.

  • Have someone show you proper wrapping technique. To make sure you’re using athletic tape properly, have an expert show you the right methods of wrapping.

  • Learn anatomy. Familiarize yourself with human anatomy, particularly the areas where you expect to use athletic tape. Once you educate yourself on locations of all the bones and muscles groups, it’s easier to understand the importance of wrapping as well as correct placement of the tape.
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Always keep your pre-wrap and athletic tape together, especially in your gym bag. That way, you’ll never have sub-optimal training sessions due to lack of adequate wraps.


Q. Am I allowed to wear athletic tape during sports games?

A. It depends on the rules and regulations of the league as well as the referee. For intramural sports, you’ll most likely be allowed to wear regular and kinesiology tape. For competitive sports at the high school, collegiate, and semi-pro levels, the answer is a bit more involved. Some leagues allow it, whereas others only allow it in cases where it’s deemed medically necessary, which will usually require thorough documentation from a doctor prior to a game or competition.

Q. I think I’m burning through a lot of athletic tape. What are my options to save money?

A. First, check whether you’ve overwrapping, as you could be using significantly more tape than you need. On the other hand, you should also make sure you don’t underwrap and risk injury, especially for the sake of saving money. It’s worth considering buying tape in bulk, but make sure you’re totally decided on a tape brand and style that has consistently performed well. First, purchase a single roll to determine whether a bulk order is worthwhile.

Q. I’ve been wrapping my wrist/ankle/foot with regular athletic tape, and I’d like to switch to using kinesiology tape. Do I wrap it the same way?

A. No. Regular tape and kinesiology tape are not only designed differently, they serve different purposes. If you try to wrap kinesiology tape the same way, you’ll burn through a role within a couple uses. More importantly, you could sustain an injury due to improper application. To get used to a new wrapping style with kinesiology tape, defer to a doctor or trainer to get you on the right track.

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