Have you noticed how most tennis socks sold are long?
They will typically cover at least half of the calves. In some cases, even a little more.
Not all tennis socks are long, but they definitely make up the majority. Standard gym socks usually aren’t this long.
Many other sportswear short socks. So why do tennis players choose to wear crew socks that come high up the leg?
Wearing long socks is convenient as it prevents clay and small stones from getting inside the shoes. It also offers a little protection if the player slips over. Sponsorship also plays a part. A sponsor’s logo is more visible on long socks.
In this article I will be talking about:
- The reasons tennis players wear high socks
- The materials that make up long tennis socks
- Why women choose not to wear high socks
It’s not going to make much of a difference to your game whether you wear longer socks or not.
But if you play mainly on clay, it could save you the inconvenience of cleaning out the inside of your shoes after each session.
If you’d like to learn the reasons why tennis players choose certain socks, read on!
Why Do Tennis Players Wear High Socks?
When I go to the gym, I usually wear standard ankle socks. This works perfectly fine. The center is clean; no stones or dirt could get into my shoes.
If you have ever played on a clay court before, you know how much hassle it is getting the dust off your shoe. By wearing high socks, it reduces the amount of clay getting inside the shoe.
No matter how long the socks are, clay always seems to find a way into my shoes. Perhaps I am just unlucky, but it would be a lot more if I wore standard ankle-length socks.
The longer socks are also useful on hard and grass courts. There is, of course, not as much dust that could end up in the shoes. But if it is a windy day, you can still get a bit of dirt inside the shoes.
Now, think about visibility. If we are sitting down together watching tennis on the TV, which sock will be easier to see?
Will it be the short ankle sock or the longer tennis sock? If players wear longer socks, the logo of their sponsor is more visible.
If you’re someone who sweats a lot, long socks can help a little. As they come higher up the leg, they absorb sweat before it can drip further down.
I am myself a big sweater, and it’s nice not to have the feeling of sweat dripping down my ankles.
Long tennis socks are not some modern invention designed to have a significant effect on performance.
They have been in use since the days of wooden rackets. If you watch replays of grand slam finals from the 1970s, you will see the men wearing similar socks.
Comfort is another essential reason players choose longer socks. By wearing higher socks, there will be less risk of ankle rubbing.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I wear ankle socks, and they’ve moved out of place.
If you are in the middle of a long rally, you don’t have time to start readjusting your socks.
Another micro benefit that can come from wearing long socks is increased blood flow to the calves.
Because the socks provide extra warmth to the leg, they will expand the blood vessels. This then allows an easier flow of blood to the area.
If you have a tight calf muscle, you might also find the heat from the sock allows it to relax a bit more.
These benefits are negligible, though.
They make such a small difference that you probably won’t notice much of a change between short and long tennis socks.
What Materials Are Long Tennis Socks Made Of?
A pair of socks I have used several times before, and am quite keen on are Adidas cushioned crew socks (Amazon). The traditional long tennis socks are known as crew socks.
The Adidas cushioned crew socks are made of the following materials: polyester, cotton, and spandex.
Polyester makes up 61% of the material. 35% is cotton, and the remaining 4% is spandex.
The material allows the foot to be kept dry in all conditions. So, if you have a tendency to play in the pouring rain, this sock will be a good choice.
If you’re keen to learn more about playing in the rain, check out this article – Can you play tennis in the rain?
My personal experience is that the sock deals very well with sweat absorption too.
I know of a number of ladies who are fans of these Prince Tennis Socks (Amazon). The material make up in these socks are slightly different.
They are 96% polyester, 2% spandex, and 2% rubber.
As a man, I haven’t much experience in wearing women’s socks. So you will just have to trust the reviews from the women who have actually worn them.
Not all tennis socks are the same but most will have the same materials in them.
Why Don’t Women Wear Long Socks?
I don’t know how much you watch tennis. But if you only watch the men play on TV, you will have missed out on something interesting.
Even though most men wear the higher crew socks, women will often wear standard ankle height socks.
Why would it be different for women?
The thing is, longer socks don’t actually bring any performance-enhancing benefit. If there were any proven benefits, the women would wear them too.
Even though swimmers look better without caps, they use them because it makes them more aerodynamic.
Serious professional athletes will never put style before the performance.
The use of socks in tennis ultimately comes down to tradition and fashion. Like with the men’s game, if you watch women’s grand slam finals from the 1970s, you will see them wearing similar socks.
For men wearing longer socks, the fashion benefit is that it makes the legs look more muscular and toned.
For women, wearing shorter socks allows them to show more of their legs and thus appear taller.
The reason the choice of socks hasn’t changed since the days of wooden rackets is simple.
As there have been no major developments in socks that can bring sporting benefits, they have just remained as they were.
It’s an interesting topic of discussion. But, to be honest, it is something even I, as a tennis coach, haven’t given much thought to.
As technologies advance and we discover new ways to use material, I’m sure socks will change.
But it doesn’t seem like there will be a revolutionary development for tennis socks anytime soon.
When you buy tennis socks, what is it you look for? Perhaps you see no benefit in tennis-specific socks and just wear the same ones you use in the gym.