What are the different types of sports socks? The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Athletic Socks

Sock Club
July 12, 2024

Whether you’re a professional athlete or a weekend warrior, having the right pair of custom socks can make a world of difference in your performance. 

In this guide, we’ll explore the benefits of wearing custom athletic socks, the different types, and how to choose the right pair for you.



Introduction to Custom Socks

Custom socks are a great way to add a personal touch to your sports gear. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, allowing you to customize your look to match your team colors or simply express your own style. 

But custom socks are much more than just a fashion statement. They also provide important protection and comfort to help you perform at your best.

The first step in choosing the right custom socks for your sport is to understand the different types available. There are several different types of athletic socks, from cushioned socks to arch support socks and more. Each type has its own unique features and benefits, so it’s important to understand the differences and determine which type best suits your needs.



What are the benefits of wearing athletic socks?

According to research from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 25 percent of athletic injuries are foot and ankle-related (Pioneer Podiatry).


Athletic socks are designed to provide support, comfort, and protection while you’re playing sports. They help keep your feet dry by wicking away sweat and moisture, and they also provide cushioning to help absorb shock and reduce the risk of injury. In addition, they can help protect your feet by providing arch support and helping to reduce the risk of blisters and other foot problems.


The right pair of custom athletic socks can also help improve your performance. Many socks are designed with special features to provide extra support, such as increased cushioning or arch support. This can help improve your balance and reduce the risk of injury, allowing you to perform at your best.



What are the different features of athletic socks?

Compression Socks for Athletes

Compression socks are designed to improve blood flow and reduce swelling. This can be particularly useful for athletes, who may experience swelling and soreness in their feet and legs after a workout. Compression socks provide graduated compression, which means they are tighter around the ankle and gradually loosen as they go up the leg. This helps to improve circulation and reduce fatigue. A study by the International Journal of Exercise Science found that compression socks can even improve performance and recovery time in non-athletes following aerobic activity.


Arch Support Socks

Arch support socks are designed to provide extra support to the arch of the foot. This can be particularly useful for athletes who have flat feet or other foot conditions that require additional support. Arch support socks can help to prevent injuries, such as plantar fasciitis, and provide a more comfortable fit. Since 1 in 10 people will suffer from plantar fasciitis in their lifetime, this is a benefit for athletes and non-athletes alike.


Cushioned Socks for Sports

Cushioned socks are designed to provide extra padding in the sole of the foot. This can be particularly useful for sports that involve a lot of impact, such as running or basketball. Studies demonstrate that the vertical ground reaction force is approximately one to one and a half times your body weight when walking and two to two point nine times your body weight when running, indicating that running puts your feet and legs through twice as much force per step in comparison to walking. Cushioned socks help to reduce the impact on the feet and provide extra comfort and support.


Moisture-Wicking Socks

Moisture-wicking socks are designed to wick away sweat and moisture from the skin. This can be particularly useful for athletes who are prone to sweaty feet or are exercising in hot and humid conditions. Moisture-wicking socks help to keep the feet dry and comfortable, which can prevent blisters and other foot problems.


Custom Athletic Ankle socks from Sock Club showing the different features of the best athletic socks

Sock Club’s custom athletic ankle socks feature several features of the best athletic socks on the market.


What are the best athletic socks for different sports and activities?

The best type of custom socks for your sport will depend on the type of activity you’ll be doing. Here are some of the best types of socks for different activities:


Woman tying the laces on her shoes showing off her pink running socks, getting ready to go for a run outside.



Running Socks
 

While running, your socks should provide a cushion for the places that are most impacted. This cushioning is intended to help you stay on your feet for longer and reduce the level of discomfort. Additionally, look for socks with extra padding on the back of the foot and the heel, as this is a common spot where blisters can form. There are also socks that come with a higher thread count resulting in a more durable and softer feel. 


Marathon runners also recommend choosing socks with a seamless toe, as this can help avoid any possible irritation, especially during long runs. Lastly, to protect your Achilles, search for socks that have a higher silhouette at the back of the heel. This lip layer will help prevent any excessive friction between your foot and the shoe.


Basketball socks for the NBA on a man's feet playing basketball on an outdoor court



Basketball Socks

Generally, basketball players wear socks made of a combination of nylon, polyester, or a synthetic version of cotton. These fabrics are used because they offer some flexibility, maintain their form over a long period of time, and are incredibly durable and moisture-resistant. 


Crew and knee-high socks are great for extra cushioning and support around the ankles, shins, and calves, which may avoid muscle cramps or injuries. The amount of cushioning required in a basketball sock depends on the personal preference and the playing surface; for example, more cushioning is typically needed for outdoor concrete courts than for indoor gym floors. 


In addition, sports compression socks are becoming more and more popular among athletes--basketball players included--because of their advanced technology.



Soccer player with white knee socks for soccer kicking the ball on the field in practice



Soccer Socks

Generally, these socks are manufactured from cotton, polyester, or both materials blended together. Cotton-made socks are usually more comfortable to wear. Soccer socks must be knee-high to cover each athlete's shin guards.
 

Constructed of high-grade fabrics with "moisture-wicking" qualities, they will maintain your feet dry and cool during the entire day. 

A seamless toe structure minimizes the friction between toes and shoes when in contact with cold water. The thick and comfortable cushions in the bottom of the sock absorb the shock and reduce the risk of overuse injuries.



Two people on a desert hike wearing wool socks for hiking



Hiking Socks

There is a variety of hiking socks available, from those that don't rise above the shoe to those that reach just below the knee. To select the correct height, consider the height of the boots or shoes. The higher the shoe cuff, the longer the sock should be, to protect the skin from the shoe.


The cushioning necessary depends on the type of journey, as well as the weather. With activities that involve a lot of impact, like running and backpacking, more cushioning is ideal; although thicker socks can result in sweaty feet.


Wool is the most recommended material for hiking socks, as it is able to regulate temperature and provide cushioning. Additionally, it is antimicrobial and is less likely to hold odors than synthetic fabrics.



Baseball player wearing custom team socks featuring his team's logo, eating a hot dog outside


Baseball Socks 

When searching for the right socks, you should look for materials like polyester, nylon, and spandex that are comfortable and adjustable. Additionally, moisture-wicking socks are beneficial. It is important to find socks that can be washed in a washing machine and are easy to maintain.


Double welt designs are ideal for keeping baseball socks raised on your leg without slipping. For those who opt for longer socks, it is essential to ensure that the pants are tucked in the calf muscles and properly fit at the knee, as leaving the pants untucked and the socks loose can become uncomfortable if the socks move.



A cheerleading squad on the football field wearing ankle socks for cheerleading


Cheerleading Socks

Cheer socks are not only necessary to provide protection and comfort to your feet, but they also have a fashionable aspect when wearing cheerleading uniforms and warm-ups. You can find a vast array of colors to choose from, which can be conveniently matched with your practice wear, warm-ups, and uniforms.


Cheerleaders need socks in different situations, and the whole squad needs to have matching socks for competitions. The best type of fabrics for cheer socks are those which offer breathability and absorb moisture, as well as fun colors that can coordinate with the team's uniforms and practice wear.


White socks are the typical option to wear with your cheer shoes, and they come in different lengths such as anklets, knee-highs, and crews. Usually, they feature an accent color to match the cheer uniform colors.



Volleyball player about to make a pass on the volleyball court, wearing knee high socks for volleyball


Volleyball Socks

Covering the lower legs with tall socks when playing women's volleyball can guard against potential injuries that may arise from dives, as well as allowing knee pads to stay in place.


Compression socks are beneficial to all athletes, including volleyball players, as they increase the amount of oxygen and blood that travels to the legs and feet, which could lead to improved performance. It is imperative to find socks that are comfortable and breathable, as well as having a secure fit that won't move while playing the game.




Choosing the Right Athletic Socks

When it comes to choosing the right custom socks for your sport, there are a few key factors to consider. Here are some of the things you should keep in mind:

The type of activity you’ll be doing: Different sports require different types of socks. For example, cushioning socks are great for running, while compression socks are better for sports like basketball and soccer.

The type of material: Different materials offer different levels of protection and comfort. For example, moisture-wicking fabric can help keep your feet dry and cool, while cotton can provide extra cushioning.

The fit: It’s important to choose socks that fit properly. If the socks are too tight, they may cause discomfort or restrict blood flow. If they’re too loose, they may cause blisters or slip off your feet.

The style: Custom socks come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, so you can choose the ones that best match your style.



Materials of Athletic Socks

When it comes to choosing the right custom athletic socks, the material of the sock is an important factor to consider. Different materials offer different levels of protection and comfort, so it’s important to choose the material that best suits your needs. Here are some of the most popular materials used in athletic socks:


Cotton:
Cotton is a natural material that offers excellent breathability and cushioning. It’s also very durable, so it can withstand repeated washing and wear.


Polyester:
This synthetic material is lightweight and breathable, making it great for activities like running and hiking. It’s also quick-drying and offers good insulation.

Nylon: This is very similar to Polyester, and features the same benefits.

Merino wool: Merino wool is a natural material that offers excellent breathability and cushioning, as well as antimicrobial properties. It’s also very durable, so it can withstand repeated washing and wear.


Compression Socks for Athletes

Compression socks are designed to provide extra support and reduce the risk of injury. They’re often used by athletes to improve their performance and reduce the risk of injury. The socks are designed to be tight-fitting, providing extra support to the muscles and joints. This can help reduce the risk of injury and improve performance.

Compression socks come in a variety of materials, including cotton, wool, and synthetic fibers. It’s important to choose the material that best suits your needs. For example, cotton is great for breathability and insulation, while synthetic fibers are better for durability and moisture-wicking.



Sports Socks for Hot and Cold Weather

The weather can also have an effect on the type of custom socks you should choose. If you’ll be playing sports in hot weather, it’s important to choose socks that are lightweight and breathable to help keep your feet cool. For cold weather, you should choose socks that are thick and insulating to help keep your feet warm.




Sports Socks for Women and Men

When it comes to choosing the right custom socks for sports, it’s important to consider the differences between men’s and women’s socks. Men’s socks are typically thicker and longer than women’s socks, providing extra cushioning and support. Women’s socks are usually shorter and thinner, providing more flexibility and a snugger fit.




A champion softball team holding their trophy and wearing white knee high softball team socks




Team Socks

Team socks are a great way to show your team spirit and support your favorite team. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, so you can choose the ones that best match your team colors. Team socks are also great for team activities, such as practices and games.




Conclusion

Custom socks are a great way to express your individual style and show your team spirit. They also provide important protection and comfort while playing sports, helping you to perform at your best. When it comes to choosing the right custom socks for your sport, it’s important to consider the type of activity you’ll be doing, the type of material, the fit, and the style. With the right pair of custom socks, you can be sure to have a great athletic experience.