Should Soccer Jerseys Be Tight or Loose?
Feb 22, 2023
Even in 2023, there’s still some debate on whether it’s better to wear loose or tight-fitting soccer jerseys. Arguments can be made for and against both fits. You can find a happy medium and strike a balance between looseness and tightness, but that doesn’t answer whether either side has an advantage or not. This post will briefly examine how tighter or looser fits affect players in terms of comfort and performance.
Tight-fitting soccer jerseys
Style aside, tight-fitting jerseys were popular for performance reasons—not just to show off a chiseled physique. Tighter soccer jerseys, especially skin-tight ones, improve a player’s aerodynamics and their movement. There are no loose ends or fabric to catch the wind, meaning there’s no drag. That allows players to run faster, which is crucial in moments, such as attacking when it’s mainly a striker against the goalkeeper.
Adidas capitalized on aerodynamics, creating skin-tight jerseys for the 2010 World Cup that provided elasticity to support the natural contraction of muscle groups. The goal was to increase power output, vertical leap, and running speed.
The other benefit of tight jerseys is that opponents can’t pull them. Pulling a skin-tight jersey would mean grabbing a player by the skin. Again, the benefit is one of not being held back (and dragged to the ground).
It’s why Italian brand Kappa brought their Kombat jersey to Euro 2000 for the Italian national team. It was the first of its kind, lightweight and comfortable, able to stretch 40 cm so referees could spot and call out shirt-pulling. Tight jerseys are great if you’re looking for performance benefits because they don’t get in the way.
What about the downsides?
Ironically, comfort, which is an upside of tight jerseys, can be a disadvantage for some. The fabrics on some tight jerseys may lead to chafing and can feel itchy or scratchy when a player sweats. Also, some players just won’t like the feel of tight-fitting clothing.
Loose-fitting soccer jerseys
“Loose-fitting” is a bit of a misnomer because there are varying degrees of looseness, more-so than tight jerseys. There are baggy jerseys—think of the 2000s when all the kids wore oversized sports gear. Players don’t wear jerseys of that sort on the pitch for obvious reasons.
Some slightly oversized jerseys are decent for playing and have been incorporated into kits for international and national teams. Loose jerseys are more comfortable for many players because they don’t hug the body as snugly as tight jerseys. It’s also more aesthetically pleasing to players who don’t fancy tight jerseys.
What about the downsides?
Essentially, a loose jersey is the opposite of a tight one. They’re easier to grab, so your opponent can tug and pull you away from the ball. Even if the referee makes the call, that’s annoying. And all that excess fabric catches the wind like a sail, except it increases drag, so you don’t reach top speed as easily. If you’re looking for aerodynamics, tighter is the way to go.
It would seem you have to pick your poison—tight jerseys for performance or loose jerseys for comfort. But we did say balance is possible, and you don’t have to pick one. You can have performance and comfort, with a slim or snug-fitting jersey.
A jersey that’s slim-fitting combines the best of both worlds, because it’s tight enough to increase your aerodynamics but loose enough to not feel tight. It also doesn’t have hanging fabric, such as long hemlines and sleeves, so opponents can’t grab them. Size matters to some degree here, but a slim fit is more about the construction of the jersey itself, not just its size.
With tight or loose jerseys, certain body types may be a problem. But whether you’re big, small, short or tall, you can wear a slim-fitting jersey. If we’re being honest, a happy medium is ideal for most players because they’re not distracting; they’re just there. And when it comes to getting in the zone for soccer, tuning out non-essential input is key.
What about the downsides?
We can’t think of many cons here. For those who prefer tight or loose jerseys, a happy medium may provide too little of either trait. Beyond that, the hardest trait of slim and snug-fitting jerseys is that it might be tricky finding them.
Storelli tops and jerseys
Of course, here at Storelli, we’re all about making hard-to-find gear readily available. And that’s where our soccer jerseys come in handy. Our BodyShield soccer tops and ExoShield Gladiator soccer jerseys are slim/snug-fitting, tight enough to allow full mobility but loose enough to feel light. With these jerseys, the player is aerodynamic but feels comfortable.
They also contain breathable and sweat-wicking fabrics and tailoring that doesn’t allow sleeves and hemlines to hang. Ultimately, they’re what you need to play distraction-free, regardless of what happens on the pitch.
Ultimately, the right fit for you will be the one that doesn’t take your mind off the game, so that could be a tight or loose jersey. From a performance standpoint, we think tighter and slim-fitting jerseys are better, the latter being ideal since it combines flexibility with comfort.
You can always try both, buying a tight jersey (if your league permits) and a slim-fit, and testing which one works and feels best. It won’t take long to figure out which is the better option.Looking for the most durable, protective, and comfortable soccer tops for better performance? Browse through our training gear and soccer tops to elevate your game!