Why Do NBA Players Shave Their Armpits?

Why Do NBA Players Shave Their Armpits?

NBA players shave their armpits due to self-consciousness about visible hair, comfort while playing, and branding considerations for marketability. Shaving also offers health benefits, improves hygiene, and reduces sweat and body odor.

Having hair under the armpits is most common to males as it shows how masculine we are, but for NBA players things are a little bit different. Women are the ones who mostly shave their armpits because society puts in our heads that if a woman have hair under their armpits, she is not beautiful. But I am not against any propaganda, I am just a basketball lover that wanted to share some things I learned to help future players to improve, lol.

We all have different reasons why we shave our hair under our armpits. Some said it is too irritating, some feel self-conscious when they have hair on their armpits. We all don’t feel the same way as others feel, we are all different. So for some people hair in the armpits is fine and some don’t agree, and we should respect that. 

Today we are going to discuss why NBA players shave their armpits. We will answer some questions like, is shaving armpits required by the association? Why Do NBA players shave their armpits, what are their reasons? Let’s go and answer that!

Reasons Why Do NBA Players Shave Their Armpits

You are curious why NBA players shave their armpits and these are the reasons why NBA players shave their armpits: 

Self-Conscious About Visible Armpits Hair

NBA players unanimously admitted that they feel self-conscious about visible hair under their armpits. It was 2011 when NBA players released a statement about this issue, and according to players that the official NBA jersey is “broken in the armpits area, leaving hair exposed, especially when taking a shot or playing defense”. 

Many players like Marc Gasol, Jason Kidd, Lebron James, etc. want less revealing jerseys or long jerseys to hide their armpits exposed to the public. Sadly, David Stern, the commissioner of the NBA, declined their requests to change the jersey to make it less revealing. David Stern said that it has been that way since basketball was invented, and to change it would lose the tradition of basketball. 

Since the NBA commissioner did not approve the player’s request, the NBA players started to shave their armpits. They feel more comfortable and confident without a hair under their armpits. 

Irritating When Moving, Shooting And Playing Defense

I, myself, experienced that having hair under my armpits and wearing a jersey while playing is so irritating. My armpits hair is just bumping into the side of my jersey’s armholes, and it is one of the most irritating scenarios that has happened to me. I did not shave my armpits hair, but I started wearing t-shirts or sweaters when playing. 

Most NBA players feel the same way I did, that is why some NBA players prefer to play without a hair under their armpits. They feel comfier to shoot, block shots, move into the court, and play defense. 

Aesthetic and Branding Considerations

In an age where the line between sports and entertainment is increasingly blurred, the appearance of NBA players extends far beyond the court. The aesthetic appeal of players is often interlinked with their personal brand and marketability.

High-definition broadcasts, instant replays, and close-up camera shots mean that every detail, including armpit hair, can become a point of focus for viewers. A clean-shaven look under the arms often aligns with modern beauty standards, presenting a polished image that resonates with a broad audience.

Sponsorships and endorsements play a significant role in an NBA player’s career, often rivaling or even surpassing their earnings from the game itself. Brands looking to align themselves with players prefer ambassadors who embody contemporary standards of grooming and hygiene. A player’s appearance, including details like armpit hair, can influence potential endorsement deals and collaborations, especially those related to personal care, fashion, and lifestyle.

Moreover, fan perception, shaped by media portrayals, can also impact a player’s decision to shave their armpits. In the age of social media, where athletes’ images are constantly shared and dissected, maintaining a certain aesthetic can help players avoid unnecessary criticism or memes that detract from their on-court achievements.

Ultimately, in a league as high-profile as the NBA, personal grooming choices are often intertwined with broader considerations of branding, fan engagement, and financial opportunities.

Health and Recovery Benefits

Basketball, particularly at the elite NBA level, is a physically demanding sport, and players are constantly seeking ways to optimize their health and recovery. While shaving armpits might initially appear as a purely aesthetic choice, there are several health and recovery benefits that can be associated with this grooming habit.

For starters, many players undergo various physical therapies that require the application of therapeutic patches or kinesiology tapes. A clean-shaven armpit can ensure that these adherents stick properly and remain effective. Hair can create uneven surfaces, reducing the adhesive capability of these tapes and potentially compromising their therapeutic value. By shaving, players ensure that treatments are not only more comfortable but also more efficient.

Moreover, reduced armpit hair can decrease friction during certain physical therapy exercises and massages. Especially when oils or lotions are applied, hair can create resistance or tugging sensations, which might cause discomfort. A smoother surface facilitates a more seamless therapy experience, potentially aiding faster recovery.

Lastly, for players who use topical medications or treatments to address specific muscle or skin issues, having less or no armpit hair can improve the efficacy of these applications. Hair can act as a barrier, preventing creams or gels from directly reaching the skin.

By shaving, players ensure that they derive maximum benefit from these treatments, paving the way for quicker healing and reduced downtime. In the high-stakes world of the NBA, where rapid recovery is crucial, such seemingly minor choices can have a significant impact on a player’s health and performance.

Some Hygiene Reasons

There are many hygiene reasons why NBA players shaved their armpits, and these are their different reasons:

Allergic To Deodorant

Deodorants and antiperspirants were invented to avoid body odor and sweating, but some people are just allergic or don’t feel like using one. Some NBA players are allergic to deodorants and some just don’t like the feeling of deodorants into the armpits when applied.

Studies said that if you have hair on your armpits then you probably need to have deodorants or antiperspirants to avoid body odor. That is why some NBA players who hated deodorants shaved their armpits hair to avoid using one.

Less Sweat And Body Odor 

People believed that when you shave your armpit hair it will reduce sweating in the armpit area. Because hair holds onto moisture, that is why shaving your armpits may result in less sweating. Shaving armpit hair may also cut down the odor associated with the sweat.  

Having hair on the armpits might hold the sweat produced by your armpits and might stay there a little bit. Players avoid hitting the face of other players with a bunch of sweaty armpit hair while defending, that is one reason why NBA players shaved their armpit hair.  

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When Does an NBA Player Start Shaving Hair On Their Armpits?

This question has no definite answer because people tend to do the things they want anytime. When basketball started their first professional game, players had hairy armpits. They are not yet self-conscious when it comes to showing their hairy armpits to the crowd.  

During the 1950s until the 1990s, only a small percentage of NBA players were shaving the hair on their armpits. This is the start of NBA players being so conscious of the hair on their armpits.

Until the 21st century comes, many players tend to shave their armpits because they feel so conscious when their armpits have hair and are exposed to the public.

It became like it is an NBA requirement to shave the hair on your armpits because of the rapidly increasing number of NBA players shaving the hair on their armpits, but the truth is it is not a requirement.  


Every NBA player will do everything just to be comfortable inside the court, and so do you. NBA players shave the hair on their armpits to be comfortable and to less feel embarrassed. They wanted to play smoothly without any worries about their armpit hair, because if you worry about something while playing, it may affect your overall performance inside the court.  

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