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What Is a Jock Strap Used For?

written by: Angela Atkinson • edited by: Cheryl Gabbert • updated: 8/9/2011

Find out what a jock strap, also called an athletic supporter, is used for and what types are available. Plus, learn about different types of protective cups and the history of jock straps.

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    About Jock Straps

    Jock straps are worn by men and boys when participating in sports or intense physical activity to help protect their genitals from damage. Jock straps are also referred to as athletic supporters. They are special undergarments consisting of a pouch for the genitals, which is attached by two straps to the elastic waistband of the garment.

    Depending on the sport, some athletes use a special jock strap which can hold a hard cup that shields the genitals from being hit or kicked directly. These are especially used in contact sports. Some are made from plastic or steel and have holes for breathability. Others are softer and more flexible and are used in lower contact sports. There is also a “flex cup" which has a hard shell on the outside and a soft lining for comfort.

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    Types of Jock Straps

    While most jock straps look similar, certain ones are specifically designed for individual sports. For example, swimming jock straps have a narrower waistband than regular jock straps. Hockey jock straps are made with adjustable straps and special clips to secure the special socks worn by hockey players. There is even a special goalie jock strap that has extra padding around the genitals and lower belly area.

    Martial artists and other high contact sports have special straps that have the cup sewn in for better protection.

    Some jock straps are made with extra fabric that helps athletes involved in winter sports to stay warm, while others called “fashion" jock straps are made in various colors and fabrics. There are also jock straps made specifically for adult-themed apparel.

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    Jock Strap History

    Some say that jock straps evolved from ancient Egyptian loincloths, but in the 1860’s, men began to wear cotton canvas girdles in order to properly conceal their genitals, especially while they wore their bathing suits.

    By the 1870s, members of the Boston Athletic club were in search of a supportive undergarment that would be comfortable for the “bicycle jockeys" of the day. Thanks to the rough cobblestone streets in Boston, many cyclists found themselves very uncomfortable after a long ride.

    In 1874, an answer came from Chicago’s Sharp & Smith Sporting Goods Company. The company released the first jock strap, originally called the “Bike Jockey Strap."

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    Jock Straps for Women

    Find out everything you want to know about jock straps for women here.

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