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Why Do Football Players Wear Towels?

Why Do Football Players Wear Towels

If you are an avid football watcher like me or watch any football at all, you’ve probably seen players wrap a towel around their waists during games. You could be perplexed if you’re new to football, wondering, “Why do football players wear towels around their waists?” After all, half of these athletes are playing while wearing gloves.


It’s a fairly standard NFL accessory you’ll see on all players – but why is that? What is the purpose of football players wearing towels? Does it have an impact on their performance? Is it purely a matter of personal preference? Continue reading as we explain all you need to know.


Why Do Football Players Wear Towels?

The towels that NFL players wear around their waists, usually at their hips and occasionally near their crotch area, do not always add to the overall appearance of their team outfits. They are there for a functional reason rather than an aesthetic one is obvious. However, some teams wear them to alter and play with their design or appear more fashionable.


To Keep Hands and the Ball Dry

As you can probably guess, the primary purpose of these towels is to remove sweat from the player’s body. Other than sweat, in some cases, severe weather like rain, sleet, or snow can also cause the player’s hands to become wet and slippery. When football players play, they use towels to keep their hands from getting damp and keep control of the ball. Wet or moist hands can interfere with a player’s grip on the ball and even potentially determine a match’s outcome.


Whether or not you wear gloves, you don’t want your football to become wet. When your hands are wet, throwing a football with your bare hands is quite tough. A small amount of water on the ball can significantly impact the trajectory of a quarterback’s throw.


Additionally, a widespread myth among spectators is that a wet ball is not a problem when wearing football gloves. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. It is practically impossible to catch or throw a football successfully when the football or your gloves are wet. It is common for players to remove their gloves when the ball is this wet to obtain a better grip. So, even players with gloves carry a towel around their waists during the game.


A wet ball is slippery and difficult to catch for any player, regardless of equipment. As a result, all ball carriers and skill players typically wear towels while playing.


To Clean Gloves and the Ball

Another reason why football players wear towels around while playing is to keep their gloves and the ball clean during the game.


A quarterback’s ability to throw the ball can be hampered if the ball is muddy or unclean. A quarterback can ensure that the ball is well cleaned before making their subsequent throw by utilizing a towel.


Cleaning up dirt and mud also applies to catchers of the ball. To catch the ball while wearing gloves, you must have a certain tackiness in your gloves. If your gloves are caked in dust, mud, and filth, you will lose the tackiness or stickiness. So, players in positions where they have to catch the ball keep towels tucked into their pants.


To Dry Arms

Running backs must be able to carry the ball with strength, which is tough to do when one’s arms and hands are dripping with sweat. When it comes to football handling, safety and ball security are key.


As a result, the player must ensure that their forearms and biceps are completely dry in addition to their hands. This point may seem like a minor one; however, even small mistakes can lead to major mishaps.


Lastly, wide receivers must ensure that the ball does not slide out of their grasp once they have caught it. As the running back, they must keep the majority of their arm dry to avoid fumbling or dropping the football.


Keeping Gloves Sticky

Football players wear towels to keep their gloves sticky. You might have seen football players spit or pour some water on the palm of their gloves. Some gloves require a little liquid to make them sticky or tacky. Think of it as ‘activating’ the stickiness of their gloves.


For example, Cutter, a huge name in football glove manufacturing, says in their FAQs to apply moisture to the gloves to restore the grip. Players have to rub liquid onto their gloves and then clean off all the excess water. Wearing a towel helps in this procedure as players can easily wipe the extra water off their gloves with it.


For the Style

Football is one of the only sports where you can personalize your appearance during a match. Since all players are wearing the same jersey, athletes must accessorize to distinguish themselves from one another. Towels are a frequently used method for football players to improve their style.


The majority of football players wear towels to aid them in the game. However, some athletes recognize the added benefit of having more style or ‘drip’ on the field. So, they prefer keeping towels that look cool. Most NFL teams have their custom NFL towels to match their uniform and compliment their wardrobe.


Our Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it. There isn’t anything hugely compelling or scientific behind the rationale for football players to wear towels. Players always look for anything they can do to get even the slightest of advantages over their opponents, and if keeping their hands and the ball dry gives them that little edge, why not wear a towel?


Outside of the obvious economic and commercial reasons – having another piece of equipment to sell. The above mentioned are pretty much the main few reasons you see towels all over the place when watching a football game.