In any contact sport there's a risk of personal injury, and a low blow can bring your sparring session or tournament hopes to a short, painful conclusion. That's why a supporter with a cup is an official requirement for boys and men in most martial arts tournaments, and is an essential piece of equipment for sparring and training sessions. AWMA offers a range of ProForce® supporters and pelvic guards, making it easy to prioritize your health and safety in your athletic endeavors. Before committing to a purchase, learn what size and type of supporter you require to ensure you're getting the perfect protective apparel for your needs.
Types of Supporters
A supporter is essential apparel for many sports. It's a close-fitting undergarment that holds and protects genitalia, without impeding motion. Male athletes commonly use supporters in conjunction with a cup for additional protection. Common types include:
• Jockstraps: The jockstrap is the most common type of supporter. It comprises an elastic waistband and leg loops, with a fabric pouch at the front for securing a cup in place.
• Compression shorts: Compression shorts are flexible, form-fitting shorts that have gained popularity in recent years. They are more comfortable than a jockstrap, and some shorts have a special design allowing for a protective cup.
• Impact shorts: Impact shorts are similar to compression shorts, except they have pockets for hip guards and thigh guards, in addition to a pouch for the cup.
• Pelvic protector: A pelvic protector, or Jill, such as the ProForce® Female Tuck Under Guard is a type of jockstrap for female athletes. The design is flatter than the male jockstrap, and covers the lower part of the abdomen as well as the groin area.
Buying the Correct Size
To get the correct supporter size, you need to know your waist measurement. Measure your waist with a tailor's tape. For the most accurate measurement, position the tape at the top of the hipbone, which is close to the level of your belly button. Alternatively, measure your waist where you normally wear your pants. Be aware that if you intend to wear your supporter over your underwear, you should take the measurement while wearing underwear.
Your waist measurement determines which size of supporter to purchase. Sizing varies between manufacturers, so always check the labels. For male supporters, sizes commonly fall into the following categories:
• Youth Small: 20 to 21 inches
• Youth Medium: 22 to 23 inches
• Youth Large: 24 to 25 inches
• Small: 26 to 32 inches.
• Medium: 34 to 38 inches.
• Large: 40 to 44 inches.
• Extra large: 46 to 50 inches.
Ensuring a Good Fit
Athletic supporters should be comfortable, yet tight enough to lift the genitals and secure them close to the body. Chafing may occur if the supporter or cup is too small, although many modern cups have soft foam or gel around the edge of the cup to reduce the risk of abrasion. A small cup that fails to completely enclose the genitals may cause pinching, and may not protect all of the genitals during an impact. If the supporter's pouch is too tight, you may need to go to a larger size.
A supporter that's too large has the potential to be just as problematic as one that's too small, as a large pouch may give the cup too much room to move during exercise. A cup that's too large may slip, or even slam against your genitals following an impact, causing as much harm as if you weren't wearing a cup at all.
Other Purchasing Considerations
Besides the style and size of the supporter, consider the quality and construction:
• Waistband size: A waistband that's at least 2 inches wide helps to ensure the cup stays in place.
• Hook and loop closures: Comfortable closures help to adjust and secure the fit without causing chafing.
• Materials: Cups should have gel or foam padding. Many are machine washable for easy maintenance.
Protective gear is essential in any contact sport, and especially in martial arts, which involve concerted attacks from an opponent rather than occasional, accidental contact. Before you get on the mats or in the ring, ensure you have all of the essential safety equipment, including a head guard, mouth guard, hand wraps, gloves, and a supporter or pelvic protector.