Athletic Tape & Returning to Basketball

Optimize Your Basketball Comeback: Harnessing the Benefits of Athletic Tape for a Smooth Return to the Court

Have you ever rolled your ankle or jammed your finger and now you can only think about it when you play? Athletic taping can be applied before training and practice to prevent further injury and/or provide additional protection.

When I rolled my ankle for the first time in a game, I was in grade 9. I went up for a layup and I landed on another person’s foot. The next thing I know I am on the ground rolling around because my ankle twisted inward. I had to sit out for two weeks and found it hard not being on the floor with the team. The following week I started going to physiotherapy to help me recover from the ankle injury. The physiotherapist helped me regain my range of motion, balance, and strength in my ankle. But I still remember the day they cleared me to play again, I was so nervous. Even though I knew I was cleared to play I was playing more timidly thinking about rolling my ankle again. I tried wearing a brace for a game and I didn’t like it. On a follow up appointment I told them about what was going on and they suggested that I tried getting my ankle taped by them. When the tape was put on my ankle, I felt the reassurance and comfort that I needed to play. It was a game changer for myself and allowed me to play game again. I stopped worrying about when or if I was going to roll my ankle.

What is Athletic Tape?

Athletic tape is a specialized tape that can be applied directly to an individual skin to help reduce the risk of injury and extra movement. It is an adjunct/short-term treatment method together with rehab. Many basketball players use athletic tape on their knees and ankles to provide support, stability, injury prevention, pain relief, enhanced proprioception, rehabilitation support, and psychological confidence during play.

Types of Athletic Tape and Uses:

  • Zinc Oxide Tape: A strong and rigid tape designed to hold structures in place while being active and to prevent injury.
  • Kinesiology Tape: Elastic cotton tape with adhesive, designed to mimic human skin.
  • Cohesive tape: Elastic, flexible, and self-adhesive tape that does not stick to skin or hair.
  • Stretch tape: Adaptable and stretchy tape used to secure dressings and bandages.

What are the Main Benefits of Athletic Tape?

  • Provide stability: Reducing the amount of additional movement to an area that is at risk of injury. The tape acts as a blockage reducing movement in a specific direction. Allowing for other aspects of movement to occur. But when the person wants to try to move past the restricted movement that can injure them the tape will stop that from happening. Creating safer movements through the joint and providing extra security around it.
  • Proprioception: The awareness of ones body relative the space around them. Movement with the tape will allow for the athlete to know what the specific area is trying to do when they are playing. Thus, improving their proprioception because they will feel if they are trying to move too much to one side compared to another. Additionally, which side they are favoring when playing.
  • Reduce pain: Compressing the area and creating a stable support provides temporary pain relief while playing.
  • Reduce swelling: When an athlete rolls their ankle, the ankle will swell and blood flow to the area becomes reduced. The tape around the ankle helps create compression and facilitate lymphatic draining leading to an increase in blood flow.
  • Help with movement patterns: Performed in conjunction with provide stability. When the structures around the joint are more secured, the joint can now function normally. For example, when taping a knee of it can help with the movement of the knee as people walk or run. It prevents the kneecap from moving too much.
  • Psychological: Some individuals like performing activities with the tape on when they do not need it because it provides more security. It can become part of a routine for certain athletes before they go and play their sport. Also, it gives people a sense of comfort, which allows them to play their best.

Athletic Tape Application

Ankle injuries and basketball go hand in hand. But returning to the game can be more reassuring through the application of taping. Before returning to the court to play the introduction of taping can be the final part of the rehab. Taping together with ankle strengthen exercises allows the athlete to come back to the stronger than before and reduces the risk of injury happening again. Creating better support and trust in your body again to help the person play their game.
When it comes to taping ankles, it is more effective when taped by someone else. The two most important aspects of ankle taping are the starting position and reduced slack of the tape, which is difficult to achieve on yourself. But you can tape your own knees, wrists, and thumbs.

Self-taping the knee:


  • 2 pieces of tape
  • Start at a bottom of the knee cap
  • One piece keep the tension, pull it up around the outside of the kneecap and stop 2 fingers with above the kneecap on the thigh
  • With the other piece do the same thing on the other side of the kneecap


  • 4 pieces of tape (One long piece for above the kneecap and two for below)
  • Start by finding the middle of the kneecap
  • Place a small piece of tape slightly above the middle of the kneecap and then pull it towards the middle
  • Top piece on first, by placing the tape slightly above the middle part of the kneecap. Then you pull and keep tension on the tape pulling the kneecap more to inward
  • Two small pieces of tape for the bottom
  • Start below the middle of the kneecap and go out on both sides

Self-taping the thumb and wrist:

Zinc Oxide Tape:

  • Use the roll and do not cut the tape until the end
  • Start putting the tape at the back side of the wrist from the pinky side
  • Then go from pinky side to the outside of the thumb to the other side of thumb then back around to the wrist making a figure 8. Repeat that 3 more times then cut the tap

If you’re looking for additional support with taping, feel free to book an appointment with me for a 30-minute initial assessment. I am certified in athletic taping by Sports Physio Canada, and I am happy to help you get back to the court as soon as possible!

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About the author: Dominic King is a Physiotherapy Resident, trained at the University of Manitoba. He is passionate about profession and helping his patients gets better but also connecting with them. Dominic enjoys working with both everyday people and high-level athletes.

Orthopedic Rehabilitation
105-675 Cochrane Drive, Markham, ON L3R 0B8 P (905) 940-2627 F (905) 940-3136 HONSBERGER@HONSBERGERPHYSIOPLUS.COM
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