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Why Do Players Wear Tape on Their Fingers

Football players will wear tape on their fingers to give themselves more protection from injury. This additional support decreases the likelihood that a finger will get bent at an awkward angle, leading to a hyperextension, break, or fracture. Linemen and receivers are the most likely to wear tape on their fingers since losing a little bit of flexibility is worth the decreased risk of injury.

As a quarterback growing up, wearing tape on my fingers was never an option since it would have made it more difficult to grip and throw the ball. But most of my offensive linemen wore some sort of tape on their fingers which allowed some of them to play even if they had a bad sprain or even a fracture in one case. Though I wouldn’t recommend trying to play with that to anyone.

Should you wear tape if you’ve got a game coming up? We’ll take a look at the players that benefit from wearing tape on their fingers the most along with how it can prevent injuries or reduce the risk of aggravating a pre-existing one.

Key Takeaways

  • Football players will wear tape on their fingers to prevent injury or to keep a current ailment from getting worse
  • Taping a compromised finger to the one next to it works like a splint and can reduce the chance of making the injury worse along with helping with pain tolerance
  • Linemen and wide receivers are the most common positions to be seen wearing tape

Extra Support

The biggest reason that a player would put tape on their fingers is to provide additional support and reduce the risk of a serious injury to their hands. Tape won’t make you invincible, but a few wraps of athletic tape around the joints reduces the risk of serious hyperextension if your hand gets caught in another player’s gear or gets bent at an odd angle. [1]

Players may also use tape if they have a pre-existing injury. If a finger is sprained, fractured, or broken, the joints will probably be unstable and weakened. This makes aggravating the injury or turning a sprain into a break more likely. But if you tape the hurt digit to the finger next to it, it serves a similar role as a splint would on a fractured arm or leg. This additional strength and rigidity can help both with pain tolerance and the player’s performance.

What Positions Usually Wear Tape on Their Fingers

The issue with taping the joints of any digit or appendage is that you sacrifice some flexibility and dexterity. Hence, it’s common to see some positions in football choose not to tape any of their fingers.

Offensive and defensive linemen are the most common players to tape their fingers. With all of the chaos and smashing bodies at the line of scrimmage, the odds of a wayward finger getting caught or bent are much higher than on the perimeter of the field.

But you also see wide receivers with tape on their hands sometimes despite the need to have good dexterity and feeling to catch passes. This is because of the insane velocity that some quarterbacks can throw with. If your hand isn’t properly positioned, a bullet pass from Josh Allen could bend a finger in a direction you’d rather it didn’t go. [2]

Conclusion

Like other pieces of padding like helmets and shoulder pads, taping fingers is common practice for many football players. No matter how careful a player is, the violent nature of the sport can make even the most rudimentary plays dangerous and a damaged finger or hand can knock a player out for the game, weeks, or even the season. 

While Ronnie Lott famously had part of his finger amputated to avoid missing any game time, I think most players would prefer skipping that option and making sure that they are as protected as possible.

Read more: WHY DO FOOTBALL PLAYERS WEAR TAPE ON THEIR ARMS?

References

  1. https://coachingkidz.com/understanding-why-football-players-tape-their-fingers/#:~:text=The%20main%20reason%20football%20players%20tape%20their%20fingers,the%20range%20of%20motion%20of%20the%20taped%20fingers.
  2. https://coachingkidz.com/understanding-why-football-players-tape-their-fingers/#:~:text=The%20main%20reason%20football%20players%20tape%20their%20fingers,the%20range%20of%20motion%20of%20the%20taped%20fingers.
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