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Arm sleeves are now very common in baseball, providing protection of a player’s precious limb, especially the elbow. Also called compression sleeves, this baseball accessory comes in a variety of styles, colors, materials, and price ranges ~ so here we offer tips and suggestions to help best fit your needs.
We don’t just seek out the most-expensive arm sleeves, nor quickly spotlight the cheapest. Here, we try to suggest compression sleeve models for a variety of needs, whether that means more padding, a firmer compression, flexibility, color styles, or otherwise.
And yes, we do typically include at least a single “On a budget” model.
Let’s start with a summary of our recommendations, plus an explanation of why compression sleeves are used for baseball play.
- The EvoShield Adult Solid Compression Arm Sleeve tops our list, and for good reason: we found no other arm sleeve with top-notch moisture-wicking technology along with specially built-in comfort.
- In line with what now is a known company tradition, the New Balance Unisex Outdoor Sports Compression Arm Sleeves are about as comfy as possible.
- This company does it again with the EvoShield EvoCharge Compression Arm Sleeve model, which seems like it was designed by people who actually played baseball.
- This manufacturer produces many arm sleeves that could be on this list, but we choose to focus on the color and style options of the Bucwild Sports Compression Arm Sleeve. Want to look good? This is your sleeve.
- Our compression sleeve on a budget is the Tough Outfitters Compression Arm Sleeves, which come with plenty of style and color choices, at a superb price range.
- It’s hard to do a “best of” baseball equipment list without mentioning this brand, so here we go with the Nike Pro Adult Dri-FIT 3.0 Arm Sleeves and its performance-comfort balance.
Why Baseball Players Use Arm Compression Sleeves
Baseball players wear arm sleeves for a number of reasons, but a single one far dominates the others: injury prevention.
These sleeves compress the muscles like the biceps and triceps for improved circulation; and are tight enough on the elbow to provide players with peace of mind that the all-important joint is firmly secure and less prone to over-exertion (or scraping on hard dirt).
Besides improved blood flow and tight joint support, other reasons baseball players wear arm sleeves include:
- Swelling-reducer. Throwing a baseball creates a repetitive motion that is strenuous to the muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments of an arm. Pitchers might throw over 100 pitches as hard as they can per game ~ and this does not include all the warm-up tosses between innings. Squeezing extra blood away has proven effective.
- Arm-warmer. The arm in baseball is among the most delicate body parts in all of team sports, creating action through use of complicated joints like the shoulder, elbow, and wrist. Keeping parts warm works to expand blood vessels and deliver more oxygen and nutrients, which helps prepare for the exertion to come. Injuries tend to occur with “cold” or not-warm-enough arms, which usually means lack of light use prior to hard exertion. Sleeves keep them warm both during warm-ups and on the field of play. So pay attention if you live in a region of consistently cold temperatures.
- Sun-blocker. A benefit of long sleeve shirts and compression sleeves is that they block the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays (UV rays) and infrared rays (IR rays) from reaching the skin, preventing sunburn and long-term damage. Most baseball games are played for hours under the sun, and any protection a player can engage to fight off burns and heat, the better. Live in a very hot or super-sunny region?
- Turf burn-protector. The elbow area is among the most-scraped or burned parts of a baseball player’s body (the knees and ankles being the top ones). The soft tender inside part of the forearm can get burned sliding head-first on dirt or artificial turf. The outer-elbow can be scabbed during hard slides into bases. Sleeves prevent against all this. Playing on a lot of dry and/or hard fields, or turf? Think compression sleeve.
Some players might insist that wearing arm sleeves helps with improved performance. We think that may be more psychological than anything else. Arm sleeves feel good and offer peace of mind to the players who wear them.
There are some, however, who insist that compression sleeves reduce fatigue of actions like throwing or hitting, therefore letting the body parts exert less energy. While it would be nice if you played better with an arm sleeve, the primary reason for wearing one should be protection from a whole lot of threats on the ballfield.
See the very bottom for things to look for when shopping for arm sleeves for baseball.
Our Choices: 7 Top Metal Cleats for Baseball
1. Best Arm Sleeve for Baseball Overall ~ EvoShield Adult Solid Compression Arm Sleeve
We have been impressed with other baseball gear items by this company, and the trend continues with the EvoShield Adult Solid Compression Arm Sleeve. It’s not often that someone would go out of their way to write a user review for an arm sleeve, but people do for this model, and they are very positive.
There is just not another arm sleeve in the market that provides the dual punch of the SwagTech moisture-wicking technology in the materials, with the comfort EvoShield carefully engineered into the item. Impressive all the way around.
- Material: Polyamide (82%) and Elastan (18%)
- Weight: 0.48 oz.
- Special Feature(s): Poly/spandex moisture-wicking fabric; Flat-lock seams for durability
What We Like
- Brand trust since EvoShield formed in 2005
- Super comfortable
- Wicking ability much above average
2. Arm Sleeve: Runner-Up 1 ~ New Balance Unisex Outdoor Sports Compression Arm Sleeves
Almost every model of arm sleeves will mention comfort in any marketing materials, but only this manufacturer can point to how well all of its sports products make body parts feel good. The trend continues with the New Balance Unisex Outdoor Sports Compression Arm Sleeves.
The big draw here is the NB Dry design, which pulls sweat away from the skin, and is engineered for cooling overall. This coupled with the NB Fresh properties to limit smells (it is for sports use, after all) makes this model better than almost all competitors.
- Material: Polyester (84%) and spandex (16%)
- Weight: 2.12 oz.
- Special Feature(s): NB Fresh properties to reduce odor
What We Like
- Attention to details like moisture-wicking along with odor control
- Spandex application for nice stretchy feel over the skin
- Construction that somehow makes it feel more supportive of the joint than most other models
3. Arm Sleeve: Runner-Up 2 ~ EvoShield EvoCharge Compression Arm Sleeve
We don’t often suggest models from the same manufacturer in the top 3 of our lists, but we felt the differences with the EvoShield EvoCharge Compression Arm Sleeve are worthwhile to point out. Plus, this model on its own, while not quite as respected as our No. 1 above, holds its own plenty well against the rest of this market.
Coming in a little heavier than the model noted at top, this EvoShield offering again uses its superb sweat-wicking textile, for an overall impression of going for comfort. It kind of feels this model was designed by actual baseball players, the way it fits with certain movements known to the sport.
- Material: Polyester (80%) and Elastase (20%)
- Weight: 0.64 oz.
- Special Feature(s): SwagTech moisture-wicking
What We Like
- About the best anti-sweat protection in the business
- Comfort in fit
- Machine washable
4. Arm Sleeve for Style Choices ~ Bucwild Sports Compression Arm Sleeve
Compression sleeves from this company top many lists for the best in baseball equipment, and we can’t argue on all points. We agree that the Bucwild Sports Compression Arm Sleeve is a high-quality piece of equipment ~ and we especially like how many different colors and patterns are available.
Let’s face it, a big part of wearing an arm sleeve is to look cool. Sure, there may be an injury to prevent or a scab to protect, but what looks cooler than a camo sleeve under the jersey, or some spectacular tech design to wow opponents? All the while improving blood flow, warming the arm, and stopping harmful sun rays.
- Material: Polyester and Spandex
- Weight: 1.28 oz.
- Special Feature(s): Many sizes according to bicep measurement in inches
What We Like
- Huge selection of colors and various designs
- Very comparable in the moisture-wicking ability
- 100% free exchanges for sizing
5. Arm Sleeve on a Budget ~ Tough Outfitters Compression Arm Sleeves
We promised to suggest one for those on a tight budget, so here we go. The Tough Outfitters Compression Arm Sleeves come with a lot of choices for style and color, and all the “musts” are still there at a very good price range.
You get silicone liners on the ends to prevent slippage, which is a big thing for arm sleeves. Plus 50 spf protection from the sun’s rays, a breathable and moisture-wicking primary material, and choices for extra pads and many styles. These are the arm sleeves for Everyman, in any sport.
- Material: Polyester (89%) and Spandex (11%)
- Weight: 0.81 oz.
- Special Feature(s): Super-stretchy blend primary material
What We Like
- A lot of options with this arm sleeve model
- Lowest price range on our list; it will be difficult to find less-costly alternatives with this amount of quality
- Extra sun protection
6. Arm Sleeve for Baseball for Padding ~ Hopeforth Padded Elbow Forearm Sleeves
We talked about options to find padding above, but the Hopeforth Padded Elbow Forearm Sleeves are created for it. This model takes padding to an entirely new level for baseball play. This is the best hybrid arm sleeve-elbow guard we have found.
This is marketed as a sleeve for shooters in basketball, but make no mistake about its appropriateness for baseball play. On the arms there are a couple of places where the only protection of the bone is skin, with little or no muscle there. That’s the elbow, and the under- or back side of the forearm ~ and that’s where this model heavily cushions.
The extra stretchy material around the padding makes it officially a “sleeve,” with the blood circulation and warming benefits that come with it. But if it’s protection from bonks you seek most, this is your compression sleeve model.
- Material: bibulous fabric
- Weight: 2.4 oz.
- Special Feature(s): Very thick foam padding; anti-slip band
What We Like
- Nice comfortable and breathable elastic fabric to complement the dominant padding
- The best sleeve model on our list to protect the ever-important elbow
7. Arm Sleeve for Dryness ~ Nike Pro Adult Dri-FIT 3.0 Arm Sleeves
This manufacturer of course makes a lot of quality sporting goods items, so we were happy to see the quality of the Nike Pro Adult Dri-FIT 3.0 Arm Sleeves as specifically related to baseball play. Of course, you get the brand trust here ~ plus a little extra focus on areas where needed.
As with other types of Nike gear, this manufacturer focuses on performance while all the while trying to provide a comfort level that makes competitors envious. The company’s own Dri-FIT material is applied here for most-effective results. The focus is mainly on the wicking away of sweat, and keeping cool, but the compression fabric is top-quality in all areas.
- Material: Nike Dri-FIT fabric
- Weight: 2.24 oz.
- Special Feature(s): Nike’s own wicking fabric, used in other sporting goods items as well; a proven commodity
What We Like
- Brand trust
- Ability to wick away sweat and to cool
- Plenty comfy
What to Look for When Shopping for an Arm Sleeve for Baseball
Arms are composed of different-shaped parts, with biceps being the biggest, then upper forearms, finally to the wrists. Not all arms are shaped perfectly, so the main thing to consider is fit when searching for arm compression sleeves.
You want them quite tight, or “snug.” They call them compression sleeves for a reason: you want it to fit tightly over the throwing arm, and to squeeze it, especially all around the elbow.
How tight? As snug as you can get away with, without impeding the throwing action, or harming the ability of blood to flow. Most compression sleeves are sized per the player’s biceps muscle, in inches.
It might be helpful to check into the company’s trade-in policies, in case you need to swap for a bigger or smaller item.
Next, consider the materials used in the construction, particularly for the main textile points between the ends (where tightness of the elastics are important). Favor models with special details to pull away sweat (called wicking) from the skin, and also to dry out.
You won’t find cotton arm sleeves. The sweat would make them super heavy, and one could only imagine the stains. Most quality arm sleeves are made of polyester, often with Spandex, and sometimes nylon is applied.
All About Baseball Arm Sleeves
- Compression sleeves were first made popular by former National Basketball Association (NBA) superstar Allen Iverson, who first used one to recover from elbow bursitis in 2000. It looked cool, worked well for him, and other sports took notice.
- It is difficult to find sleeves at the bottom of the price range that will last an entire baseball season.
- Some baseball compression sleeves come with extra protection at the elbow, and/or the outside of the forearm atop the hardly padded bone.
- Check your league rules, as some forbid pitchers to wear any type of sleeves that are white or gray in color, to prevent blending in the ball to the batter’s eyes.
- Please note that an arm sleeve extends basically from the armpit to the wrist where the hands begin. Don’t confuse these with elbow, forearm, or wrist guards. Those usually contain a hard piece and are for protection against hard contact (like being hit by pitches). They are usually shorter, and are not typically designed for comfort or performance.
Question: How do you safely wash a baseball compression sleeve?
Answer: Baseball arm sleeves should be washed after almost every use, mainly due to excessive sweat but also grass and dirt stains. Typically the safest way is to hand wash the sleeve in cold tap water and a gentle soap, rinse, and hang to air dry. The key is protecting the elastic of the sleeve, both at either end and also usually built into the main body material. Using a washing machine is okay as long as the setting is on cold water, and the most gentle cycle appropriate for that load. Do NOT put arm sleeves in clothes dryers; the heat is not good for them.
Q.: Can arm sleeves be too short?
A.: Not really. It’s wise to have the entire forearm and most of the upper-arm (biceps and triceps) covered, not just to warm and improve blood flow there, but to add material touching the skin to prevent the garment from slipping. Sure almost all arm compression sleeves have some sort of elastic system at both the top and bottom to squeeze the arm and avoid slipping up or down. But having material stuck to the skin all the way up to the armpits and down to the hands just helps grip even more.