If there is something worse in sports that watching your teammates play while you are out nursing an injury, then I don’t want to know what that is. Quite simply, it is excruciating, and that’s not even referring to the injury itself. Today, we’re going to be looking at a way to keep you healthy and on the volleyball court so that you can keep on playing with your teammates and friends.
Ankle braces can be a very valuable tool to prevent a lot of harm. With today’s shoes becoming lighter and lighter, and with low and mid tops becoming all the rage, there is less and less protection being given by shoes. That is where an ankle brace will swoop in to save the day.
In our buying guide, we’re going to break down everything you want to know. We’ll then take a look at the most popular options available on the market before we answer any questions that you might have left over. Here we go!
Top Volleyball Ankle Braces Comparison Chart
|Image||Name||Adjustable||Feature||Price||Where to Buy?|
|1. Venom Neoprene Lace Up Compression Sleeve||Lots of ability to adjust||Breathable brace||$$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|2. McDavid 195 Double Strap Brace||Can be adjusted without taking shoes off||Lightweight||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|3. Cramer Active Ankle AS1 Pro Lace Up||Easy to adjust||Light and won’t slip||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|4. SNEINO Active Ankle Brace||Easy to adjust||Mobile and ready to go||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|5. Med Spec ASO Ankle Stabilizer||Nylon adds to the durability||Elastic cuff closure||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|6. Active Ankle T2 Rigid||Easy to get on and off||EVA padding||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|7. Ultra Ankle Ultra Zoom Performance Brace||Extra stabilization||Stops rolled ankles||$$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|8. Mizuno DXS2 Ankle Brace||Easy to adjust||Uses polyester, nylon, and some rubber||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|9. Tandem Active Ankle Eclipse II Rigid Stabilizer||Sizing can be tough||Breathable brace||$||Check Price on Amazon|
Why an Ankle Brace?
You might be asking why you need an ankle brace and just why it’s such a big deal. While it can’t prevent all injuries, it definitely does help. First and foremost, the ankle is one of the most susceptible spots on the body. Ankle sprains are one the #1 most common injury in all of recreational sports. And can you guess which sport ranks #1 amongst those? You guessed correctly if you said volleyball…
In fact, there are numbers out there that suggest that nearly a quarter of volleyball injuries pertain to the ankles alone, an almost 10% increase over other sports. The stakes are high, and with so much jumping and landing, and it’s the landing part that can get us into trouble after doing it time and time again, so you should be looking to do everything you can to prevent injuries. Like we’ve stated before, this won’t just stop all bad things from happening. But it sure can go a long way to doing just that.
Another thing that an ankle brace does is bring peace of mind. An athlete always wants to know that he or she is protected and that they can go all out. After an injury, it can be very tough to get back into the swing of things. You just don’t know how to get back to where you were because you are afraid to push it to the max like you used to.
With an ankle brace, though, some of those fears can be laid to the side. From there, you can get back to 100% and reach the level you’ve worked so very hard to obtain.
Not Just For Injuries
Ankle braces are made to help people heal from their injuries and to aid in their recovery, but that is not the only purpose of them. Volleyball ankle braces, in fact, are mostly made to help those that have never had an injury before. The goal is to keep you from ever getting injured. While it’s not always possible, and you can’t guarantee them to work, they do an awful good job of holding you out. You wouldn’t play without knee pads or shoes, we hope at least, so you should give ankle braces some consideration before blowing them off!
Positions and Their Impact
The position that you find yourself in on the court is crucial at determining what kind of ankle brace that you will need. If you are a player that is on the front row, you will be asking to spike the ball and make blocks. That is a lot of jumping going on, so you will need a lot of protection as far as that goes. But you also have other things to consider. Lateral movement is essential, especially as you improve and go further in the game. You could move back and forth several times over the course of just a single point.
So you also have to have that. And don’t forget the fact that accidents do happen under the net. You could run into other players by happenstance, and that can cause impact injuries. It’s more rare than injuries from jumping, but it does mean that players on the front row need something more sturdy and rigid.
Back row players find themselves in different circumstances. They still need protection, but if they had something that was super rigid, it would harm their agility and their ability to get up and down and side to side. So, for that reason, back row players need a brace that isn’t as restrictive as players on the front. You will want something comfortable as you swoop down and make those digs and make passes to the front row.
A third option is out there for the stubborn. If you just insist that you have strong ankles but still want to have an ankle brace, then you can get what is essentially a compression sleeve. While not being able to offer as much protection as other forms, this will still give you some and it will also breed a ton of comfort. This is bound to make you happy, and at least it might get your parents off your back for a little while!
While these are helpful tips, it’s important to point out that every player is different. If you have had injuries to the ankles in the past and are on the back row, you still might want something more than what is recommended. You also might not want to be as bulky on the front row. It’s ultimately up to you, but these are the suggested types for you to take a look at.
Types of Ankle Braces
There are three main types of ankle braces to look at. Two of them are for players that have not been injured as of yet. There are lace ups and then there are stirrups. As you can imagine, the lace ups are generally easier to adjust and get off and on for you. Stirrups are more rigid and harder to get on and off, but they usually give you a little bit more protection.
As with so many things, it just simply comes down to personal preference. The biggest advantage to stirrup braces is that the ankle is able to move up and down but will be protected from rolling out and in. That means you will have a much lower chance of rolling that ankle, which just hurts so bad when it happens. It feels so much worse than what it is! The other type of ankle brace is the type made for healing injuries.
These kinds of braces are hard because they are made to keep your ankle locked into a certain place so that you can get better. Most are filled with air or gel. This type is strictly used for after injury, so hopefully you will go out and buy one of the other two types to avoid that from occurring. T
here are some ankle braces that will help you heal and also can be worn during play, but that type is pretty expensive, as you would expect them to be due to having such versatility.
Comfort is King
If you are going to be wearing something, you need it to have a degree of comfort to it. If it hurts you to wear, then you won’t be enjoying it very much. It could be guaranteed to keep you safe, but if it hurts to wear and constricts to you too much, then you’ll end up taking it off and shoving it in a bag to never be seen again.
So, that means comfort is the key here. You absolutely have to have something that feels good. And this is the case even more if you are going to be wearing the brace for extended amounts of time. We’d suggest finding comfort regardless of the amount of time you plan to wear it daily, but you definitely have to find something that is comfortable if you will be wearing it four or more hours at a time. It’s also worth pointing out that you should be aware that we don’t count really thick padding as comfort.
Yes, this can be a huge aiding factor in your comfort level, but it is not the end all. Just because you see some padding around does not mean it will be comfortable to wear. Maybe it bothers your heel or it’s just too tight. There’s a slew of issues that some padding doesn’t help much.
So look for comfort, overall comfort, instead of something that just looks like a walk on the clouds and you should be good to go. Being able to wear your new ankle braces and feel good for five minutes is good and all, but if you are unable to play a match with them on, then you will find them being discarded in short order.
Today’s shoes, as we hinted at earlier, are getting smaller and lighter as we speak. We used to see high tops being very popular in both basketball and volleyball, but there has been a transition to lighter, quicker models in the past decade or so. This has seen the mid top become the new high top and the low top is also gaining popularity.
The low top is very dangerous for sports like volleyball and basketball, but it’s still growing in numbers because of the lack of weight and also the added flexibility it gives its wearers. With all of that said, ankle braces are even more necessary now. But the funny thing is that some ankle braces are going to require certain kinds of shoes.
For example, a low top might fit a stirrup system best. We’ll make sure to point this out when we get to our reviews if a brace fits best with a certain type of shoe or not so you can make a much better and informed decision.
Some other things to know is that your shoes could be a factor in causing ankle issues. Some just do not do a good job of protecting you like others do. Even some high tops are going to look like they can do a good job at covering up your ankles, but they never quite reach the standards that you are looking for. B
y the same token, you might have to change up your shoe choice after you sustain an injury. This is unfortunate, but it’s a no-brainer if you are willing to do what it takes to keep on the court.
Experienced volleyball coaches and trainers both agree that ankle braces are especially important for youth players. For one, it’s been proven by numerous studies that one ankle sprain makes further sprains more likely. When you also weigh the fact that sprains do add up and start to take a toll on the ligament, it’s easy to see why it is so important to protect the younger players.
Another reason to protect youth more is because they aren’t as strong yet. They don’t have the muscular strength to sustain some of the impacts like an adult would be able to do. The last reason is because the level at which the game is played is much more sloppy. Youth players are still learning the proper form, so this can add to the likelihood of getting injured. Braces will do a good job at stopping that from happening.
Braces, Not Casts
In olden times, casts were preferred for just about any old injury. That was the best thing available at the time, and that’s the best that doctors could do. However, we’ve seen over time that if an injury has occurred that it’s best to not go with a cast in many instances.
With ankles, this is usually the case, and that is why they suggest braces instead. With a cast, the soft tissues in the ankle begin to get weaker because they are all kept in a position where they cannot move. This lack of movement means you lose strength.
Braces don’t stop the movement entirely, they just give you extra support. That way you can put all of your weight on your ankle, helping you to get to a place where your recovery is much quicker.
With anything in life, price will always be a factor when you are looking to make a purchase and that is the case with ankle braces. A lot of people will balk at some of the higher priced ones, but in reality we need to have a think about this. You have car insurance because you don’t want to be a wreck and end up without a vehicle, right?
This is similar in that you are insuring, or doing your very best to do so, that an ankle injury will not happen. If you pick up an injury, even a slight one, the trip to the doctor is going to probably end up costing more, especially nowadays, than the brace itself. Even worse is if you end up going to the emergency room. This is what you are fighting against.
For some braces, you will have to pay quite a bit because you will be paying for two. This is just part of it that you should expect. Generally, when it comes to price in ankle braces, the higher the cost is indicates the quality of the brace. But that isn’t to say that it’s impossible to find a good deal, so keep your eyes peeled because you might be happy to find a great deal.
If you have been prescribed a brace, just know it will cost more. Over the counter ones, though, will be cheaper. But the quality is not always there, so just know that and be ready for it.
We’ve talked about comfort and support, and we already know that those are must haves in our quest to stay healthy. But there is another aspect to finding a brace that is right for you, and it is breathability. Part of comfort is staying cool. Volleyball, just like all sports, has the potential to get you very sweaty. There’s nothing worse than feeling overheated.
You can get angry even when there’s no reason to be, and it almost never goes well for your game. You lose control of your emotions. Shoes have ways to keep you cool, and like that, a good ankle brace is going to have ways to do so, too. You want to find something that airs out well and lets that sweat drain off. Without it, you are going to have a pool of water in and around your ankles, and it will drip down into your shoes and make you heavier.
It’s not just uncomfortable, it’s also kind of gross and it weighs you down. A brace that gets super drenched could move around some, too, and that negates the point. In very general terms, the braces with the best breathability built in will be a little more expensive. But that is not to say you can’t find a good brace that doesn’t air out for a reasonable price, either.
Best Top 9 Volleyball Ankle Braces of 2019
Venom Neoprene Lace Up Compression Sleeve
This might be called a sleeve, but it’s actually a brace that is good for those players that want support without a lot of bulk. In fact, there is little at all, making it very desirable for people that want something light. The Neoprene used makes it very breathable, while it adjusts well thanks to two straps as well as laces to help give you just the right amount of support that YOU need.
The sides are stabilized to prevent side to side movement of the ankle, but you still don’t get all that restricted. Coming in with a number of sizes and at a very reasonable price, it’d be no problem at all two get one for both ankles. One possible problem is getting the right fit. If you have larger calves, it is troublesome to get on. Also, there are no rivets used, so a lot of wear will cause it to eventually wear out.
- Very good price
- Lots of ability to adjust
- Breathable brace
- Not for those with larger calves
- Can wear out quickly
McDavid 195 Double Strap Brace
Coming in at a similar price is the McDavid 195, which also gives you quite a bit of versatility with your ankles. If you don’t like the way they fit, then you can adjust it using one of the two straps. A brace from them will fit both ankles as well, which is not always the case for others out there. The tongue of the brace features ventilation to keep you breathing, while the padded lining helps to cushion and comfort you throughout.
Like the other option, this one has straps and laces, so there really is a lot of adjustability involved. By using polyester, a single layer of it, the brace is lightweight and also supportive at the same time, making it a good one for players that haven’t had issues before.
Another positive is that it has more sizing options than the Venom, which is never a bad thing. Some do find the elastic to be too tight on them, so that is something to watch out for. Also, the size chart appears to need some work, so you will have to be careful.
- Can be adjusted without taking shoes off
- Polyester decreases weight
- More sizes available
- Elastic woes
- Hard to decide on size
Cramer Active Ankle AS1 Pro Lace Up
Much in the same vein of the others we’ve seen so far, this is another that is of the minimalist approach. With straps and laces, the AS1 is easy to adjust and is also quite light as it is made out of silicone. The silicone does a very good job at making sure it does slip in your shoes, which can make a big difference. The price is also similar to the first tow, and you get a very quickly and easy system for adjusting.
The straps run in opposing directions, with the vertical ones serving to mimic the effect tape would have and the horizontal straps stabilizing the ankle and preventing any sort of slipping from happening. With the tighter design, it is less bulky and takes up less room, helping you to have superior comfort.
While this one isn’t going to help people that have had issues with ankles as much, it can and will do well for those that are trying to keep from getting them. Hard use is also rough on this brace, so if you play a lot be ready to replace earlier.
- Lots of mobility
- Easy to adjust
- Light and won’t slip
- Not as protective as others
- Durability is a little lacking
SNEINO Active Ankle Brace
The SNEINO is another lower priced option that will keep you happy if you are looking for a lot of mobility and some protection on the court. This gives support all the way around the ankle and sports two straps, one at the middle of the foot and the other at the heel area.
With the straps and laces this brace is very adjustable, making it ideal for virtually any type of shoes. The sides have steel stabilizers, so you won’t have quite as much movement laterally in them as some others, mainly the AS1 we saw above. With three sizes, it’s a little harder to find in your best fit but not impossible to do.
The biggest issue seems to be finding the right size, as it is a foreign company and that tends to make it tough to get the correct sizing. They don’t come with instructions, either, so that’s a bit of a knock.
- Easy to adjust
- Sides reinforced
- Mobile and ready to go
- Not as much freedom
- No instructions
- Sizing issues
Med Spec ASO Ankle Stabilizer
The Med Spec provides another option for a lightweight and relatively inexpensive ankle brace here with their Nylon boot. Nylon aids in the durability and the strength of it, with the straps forming a figure eight to lock you in to the ground. Both ankles will work along with this stabilizer, and it will also fit just about any pair of shoes that you have. Being made in the US is also a major plus that will be good for a lot of people.
With an elastic cuff closure, it’s very easy to adjust and then to also keep the laces and straps more secure. The only problem then could be the elastic wearing out. A major problem is that they don’t appear to accept returns, so be careful if you decide to order from them online. It’s also shown to be tough for some to put on, too.
- Good price
- Nylon adds to the durability
- Figure eight locks you in
- Difficult to get on
- No returns accepted
Active Ankle T2 Rigid
If you want something more sturdy for you, then the T2 from Active ankle is the way to go. Using just a single strap across as well, this is extremely fast and easy to get on and off as you prepare to play. With the side supports being made out of plastic, it helps support you but does so without being too heavy and holding you back. With a stirrup set up at the bottom, it will keep either foot locked into place and ready to move when you are ready to do so.
The hinge they use emphasizes natural movement of the ankle up and down, which will help you if you have already injured your ankles. EVA padding is used inside to make it comfortable and also to make it lighter and to give a customized fit of sorts. They do cost a little bit more, but that is to be expected given the added materials used. It’s also not going to last forever, so durability is a little questionable.
- Rigid to stop side to side movement
- Easy to get on and off
- Encourages natural movement otherwise
- Cost is a little higher
- Durability isn’t the greatest
Ultra Ankle Ultra Zoom Performance Brace
Another one for players that have had injuries in the past or want more protection than a minimalist design, this one is meant to lock you in. Featuring stabilizers on the sides that are made from plastic and also reinforced toward the bottom, this brace has two straps: one across the heel area and then one around the midfoot.
It is freeing for most movements just not for lateral movements as it does a good job against rolling of the ankles or landing on them wrong. They are also form fitting, using your heat to surround you better and give you an excellent fit and feel while on the court. They do cost quite a bit more than any of the others on the list so far. Also, they seem to make a lot of noise that others don’t make, so if you are easily annoyed be advised.
- Extra stabilization
- Fits to your foot
- Stops rolled ankles
- A little pricey
- Makes a lot of noise
Mizuno DXS2 Ankle Brace
Mizuno is a big brand in volleyball, and it’s no shock to see them here. This brace is a minimal sort of one, but is different from what we saw earlier. It’s a lot like a sleeve with the way it is shaped. There is only one strap, across the very top, but it is made so that you can’t move from side to side. Despite that, there is no steel or hard plastic, as it uses polyester, nylon, and some rubber.
It is a little more expensive than others in the same category, but that’s to be expected due to the differences. It offers three places of support, though, and that is where the biggest difference lies. One thing to note is that this brace is for specific feet, so you can’t buy one and automatically wear on both ankles. The Velcro is also a little bit lacking, so a minor annoyance there.
- New shape gives three points of support
- No hard siding
- Easy to adjust
- Higher price
- Can’t use for both ankles
- Velcro doesn’t hold up the best
Tandem Active Ankle Eclipse II Rigid Stabilizer
If you need a ton of ankle support, then this might be just the one for you. Looking like something out of a robotic movie, this brace looks like a boot and is shaped in a ‘U’ in order to give maximum support. The sides are plastic, but they use EVA on the insides to pad you and increase the comfort level. The hinge discussed earlier is in play again to make sure you can move up and down but not side to side, so that you can strengthen those muscles without getting re-injured.
The heel area is open so that there is no pinching, which can be a problem that others present due to being right on top of the foot. With openings placed strategically, this brace is breathable and allows you to air out and also to get a lot of comfort despite the rigid nature of it. Sizing can be tough with this as it seems to go by shoe size, which is not always a good indicator. The straps also aren’t the most durable out there.
- Open heel area
- Promotes upward and downward movement
- Sizing is tough
- Straps aren’t very durable
Conclusion And Final Volleyball Ankle Braces recommendations
Unlike shoes and the such, the general public don’t know nearly as much about ankle braces. It’s normal for that to be the case, but that causes some panic when it comes to making a selection on what to buy. The problem is further exacerbated when you add in all of the claims that are made online, the numerous studies that point out, or claim to point out, the best kinds, and then all of the possible choices that you can find online.
However, after today’s guides, our reviews, and also our FAQ’s below, you can be much more confident in knowing everything you’ve ever wanted to know about ankle braces and more. Look below if you have any other questions, and good luck on the court!
Frequently Asked Questions About Volleyball Ankle Braces
How Often Should I Replace My Ankle Brace?
This is an answer that is going to vary from player to player. Like shoes, some people are harder on braces than others. With that said, you should look to replace your ankle brace when it can no longer pass the support test. If you take a brace, especially a rigid one, and hold it in your palm and the side of it falls down, then it’s not going to be tight enough to wear anymore.
It’s simply worn out and you need to get a new one. A lot of companies suggest that you switch after a year of play with your brace just to be safe as well. It’s up to you, but just keep in mind that you are paying money to protect yourself. By skimping out and saving, you could be hurting yourself. It’s not like some things that you don’t really need. If you are wearing them, you probably feel that you need them or just want to make sure you are protected. By failing to replace them in a reasonable amount of time, you are setting yourself up for trouble.
Can I Still Get An Ankle Sprain Wearing A Brace?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. You can still get a sprain despite having an ankle brace on. However, there is some good news. In most cases, the severity of the injury will not be as great as it would have been without wearing one. A lot of companies claim to reduce the amount of time on the sidelines by as much as 80%, so you can be delighted a little bit from knowing that they do help quite a bit even if you do get a slight injury.
Do They Come In Pairs?
For ankle braces, you will most typically find them sold in individual packages. However, it is possible to find some in packs of two, so be on the look out for that. This does mean the price is higher for two, but it’s worth it in the long run if you save just one visit to the doctor in most cases!
Should I Wear Them On Both Legs?
This is totally up to you and it comes down to what you are wearing them for. If you have been injured in the past on one ankle, then you might just wear a brace on that ankle to help make sure you don’t get injured again. If you are looking to prevent injuries from happening, then wearing both is a good idea. It’s just up to your preference.
How Do I Clean My Ankle Brace?
Cleaning your ankle brace is pretty simple and easy. Just take some water and a rag and hand wash the straps and the pads. This is the safest way to do so, and shouldn’t be all that tough to do if you need them to be cleaned up a little bit.
Do Braces Weaken the Ankles? And What About Knees?
This is a myth that a lot of people are beginning to develop. It’s just not true. Ankle braces bring additional support to the table, but they do not make ankles weaker. There is no scientific proof that they impact in any negative way. In fact, there are studies that show that having a brace, or even tape, makes you less likely to get injured. It’s a strange phenomena, but something about the way the body perceives objects like this increases its fight against getting hurt. By the same token, there is also no evidence that ankle braces can cause knee injuries to occur.
Can’t I Just Tape My Ankles?
This seems to be a good idea on paper, but the reality is that most players don’t have a real trainer that can do this for them properly. Because of that, it is already a bad idea. Add in the fact that tape for protective functions is usually done after about 30 minutes. This gives you very little time, maybe not even enough time to even get the game started, for it to be of use. If you are looking for protection besides your shoes, then braces are really the way to go. Or at least a compression sleeve.
How Much Does Proper Form Help?
Players that are taught how to jump and land in the right manner have been shown scientifically to have much less injury issues to their ankles. What this means for you you, or your child, is that you should teach them the basics. While it’s hard to always do it right because we are all imperfect, it can definitely serve you well to help prevent potential harm.
How Do Colleges and Pros Handle Bracing and Taping?
Believe it or not, but most professional players do not use tape or any sort of braces. They have been able to build up strength over time, and with the proper form, they are much less likely to get an ankle injury than others. As for college players, a lot of teams have set rules that everyone is made to go by. You might not even have a choice but to use a brace because the whole team does. This is not always the case, but a lot of schools, particularly ones that have players under scholarship want to protect their investment and make sure they don’t injure themselves when it could have been prevented. Every team is different, but this is just how some of them end up policing themselves.
What Do I Do If I Sprained My Ankle?
If you have sprained your ankle, then the RICE acronym is your best bet for getting back to full fitness. Quite simply here what it stands for:
Rest- Give time for the ankle to heal. You can even use crutches if necessary, but definitely stay off if you can.
Ice- apply ice to the ankle when you are sitting. Ice helps reduce swelling, which can help you recover quicker. If you don’t have an ice pack, you can improvise with anything cold from the freezer in a pinch.
Compression- find something to wrap your ankle with, such as wrap or an ankle support. Make sure it’s not too tight, though.
Elevate- keep the ankle above the heart whenever possible. This will also help reduce the amount of swelling that is present.
You can also try pain relievers. There are various types of them, so just make sure to take ones you are safe to take so you don’t get an allergic reaction.