Athletic Sport Socks

The importance of long socks extends far beyond keeping your feet warm — although that is a big part of their origin. Socks absorb sweat to help prevent slippery soles during the most heated of sporting events. They protect from the elements, provide cushioning and alleviate ankle irritation often caused by the rubbing high tops, boots or other athletic shoes.

They're the one personal item combat soldiers in World War II and Vietnam were instructed to always carry two sets of. They can be used as little bags to carry things, like tools or jewelry when you travel. They can even be used for protection: In situations of self-defense, they can be filled with rocks or loose change and used as a weapon, or they could serve as a bind to secure someone's hands while waiting for police to arrive.

Designers have even mastered the art of making stockings fashionable, and many women and young ladies today depend on them as the perfect accessory to spice up an outfit for work or school.The point is, whether you need a high enough pair to hold up shin guards during a game of soccer, have to double up on socks to keep your feet warm while shoveling snow, or need a splash of color to spruce up a drab skirt, socks — regardless of their variation — may be the most important accessory in your dresser drawer.

From baseball to lacrosse, cheerleading to roller derby — each pair serves a purpose specific to the activity at hand. And surprisingly, many types of socks even hold a bit of history.

For example, did you know many baseball teams got their team names based on the color of their socks? Or that cheerleading was actually invented by a man? If you're interested in finding the right pair of socks for your sport or choice or just want to learn some fun history about athletic uniforms and their origins, you've come to the right place.

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Baseball Socks

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Baseball players wear tube socks that cover the feet and reach to just below the kneecap. Baseball socks are quite arguably the most recognizable uniform accessory in all athletic history. It's important for players, especially base runners, to protect their calves during the game in a way that doesn't take away from their performance. At the same time, it is essential to protect a player's feet. Over the years, socks have proved to be the perfect tool.

Feet are among the body's heaviest producers of sweat. Imagine what that means for a player during an afternoon game on a sunny-, 80-degree weathered day. Absorbing sweat is one of the things baseball socks are good for. But more importantly, in the game of baseball, socks are the single most important piece of clothing when it comes to sliding into base. Sliding is when a runner is on the verge of being tagged out and must get down, mid-run and in the dirt, to touch the bag at least with his feet in older to be ruled safe. And baseball socks are what protect a player's legs from gravel burn. On days or nights toward the end of the season when it's likely to be chilly, or early in the season when it's typically rainy, socks also play an important role in keeping a player's feet warm and dry. Baseball socks also reduce the amount of rubbing or uncomfortable contact between a player's feet and shoes. Several different irritations can be caused from running or standing in sweat.

From the 1860s onward, baseball players' socks were the primary articles of clothing that distinguished one team from another. A more distinguished generation may remember the Chicago White Sox's "White Stockings" or St. Louis Browns' "Brown Stockings," which separated them from opposing teams in the sport's storied past. Like them, several Major League Baseball teams were named after the color of their socks. Those stockings, or knee breeches, prevailed as the baseball uniform standard for generations before the MLB administration began allowing players to wear close-trimmed pant legs that cover the calf all the way down to a player's cleats. Several modern-day players, however — like Detroit Tigers' first baseman Miguel Cabrera and Colorado Rockies' pitcher Ulbaldo Jiménez — wear their socks in traditional form: up to their knees, either scrunching their pant legs or covering them with their socks.


Basketball Socks

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Basketball players wear mid-calf , crew socks or knee socks that are typically cushioned at certain points on the soles of the foot. The activity-specific cushioning helps prevent blistering, offering protection and comfort for basketball players, who are always on the move. Mid-calf socks can serve multiple purposes, but most of all, they absorb sweat that could otherwise fall onto the court and create a slip hazard. Crew socks, although shorter and much closer to the ankle, prevent rubbing from high-tops — the choice footwear of most basketball players.

In most cases, if a basketball player is wearing mid-calf socks, they'll match their uniform or their shoes. There is no requirement for basketball players' socks, however most players wear high-top sneakers and need to protect their ankles. In both men's and women's basketball, a standard uniform includes a pair of shorts and a jersey that clearly displays a player's number. All teams in the National Basketball Association and the Women's National Basketball Association have uniforms that are unique to a team. The only equipment required for a game of basketball, however, is a court with baskets on each end and a basketball.

James Naismith, a Canadian physical education instructor, invented basketball in 1891 and the first set of formal rules were adopted for the game a year later. While many people will play basketball in outdoor courts or even in their driveways, the original game of basketball was designed to be played indoors. It started with two peach baskets fixed to 10-foot poles, and players used a soccer ball to score. Eventually, Naismith came up with the 13 original rules, most of which are still in play today.

Today there are 30 NBA teams and two conferences — East Conference and West Conference — with 15 teams each. There are five teams in three divisions of each conference. Basketball is played the most in the United States and throughout most of Europe; but China, Japan, the Philippines, Australia, India and several others recognize it as a sport.


Cheerleading Socks

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Cheer socks are tiny, just like a cheerleader's uniform. Cheerleaders typically wear ankle socks or crew socks that are barely noticeable, as to not take away from their legs, which are a major part of the cheerleading ensemble.

Sometimes cheerleaders will wear padded socks to provide comfort. Some cheer teams will even wear knee socks with words or monograms. Cheerleading uniforms are designed to prevent cheerleaders from inflicting injury on themselves and their teammates and generally consist of a shell top, briefs, a skirt, socks and tennis shoes.

While cheerleading is primarily recognized as a women's sport, it's actually in existence thanks to a man's vision. In the sport's first 25 years, men conducted organized cheering. Cheerleading wasn't recognized as a sport until late in the 20th Century.

Thomas Peebles, a Princeton graduate, first introduced organized cheering among crowds at University of Minnesota football games. It wasn't until 1898, though, that the first cheerleader, Johnny Campbell, directed a crowd into cheering what eventually became legend: "Rah, Rah, Rah! Ski-u-mah, Hoo-rah! Hoo-rah! Varsity! Varsity! Varsity, Minn-e-So-Tah!" Organized cheerleading was born shortly after that. The first "yell leader" squad was made up of six male University of Minnesota students, and the first cheerleading fraternity was founded in 1903. Females began participating in 1923, mainly because participation was limited for them in other sports at the time. This is when gymnastics, tumbling and megaphones were introduced. They are still used in many cheer routines today.

In 1948, the National Cheerleaders Association was born at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. In the 1960s, the National Football League began organizing professional cheerleading teams to cheer on its players. The Baltimore Colts, which are now the Indianapolis Colts, was the first team to enlist a professional squad of women cheerleaders. The Dallas Cowboys, however, was the team that changed the image of cheerleaders. In the 1972-73 season, its cheer team made headlines for their revealing outfits and spectacular dance moves.


Dance Team Socks

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Whether it's ballet, tap or jazzercise, the feet and legs are the most important appendage on a dancer. And just like any sport, dancing calls for protective footwear. While some dance socks are merely just part of a uniform, others serve important physical functions. Many dance socks are even built with padding in their soles, providing comfort to the natural pressure pads: the heel and ball of the foot.

Irish dancing socks, for example, often referred to as "poodle socks," are a medium-weight, cotton-based sock unique to the tradition of Irish dancing. They're typically white, stretch up to just under the knees and have a thick, rippled texture that starts at the ankle. Socks are an important part of the traditional Irish dancing uniform.

Then there's "sock hop" socks, which saved many a '50s-high-school-gym dance floor from scuffs and other disrepair. The sock hop actually got its name from its dancers — high school prom goers, jitterbugs and even dads and daughters — shedding their shoes as to, well, not cut the rug while they danced to their favorite swing. Add to that, many girls in the '50s would wear a poodle skirt, knee high cotton socks and saddle shoes — a legendary outfit many ladies today turn to for Halloween and themed parties.

But quite arguably, the most popular dancing sock today is the legwarmer. Modern legwarmers are made from cotton and other synthetic fibers, but traditionally they're made from wool — hence, the term "legwarmers." Some designers even make their legwarmers from camel hair or Old English sheepdog hair. Originally worn to keep a dancer's legs from cramping, many dancers nowadays will wear legwarmers during practice to keep their normally bare or nyloned legs warm. Most legwarmers cover a dancer from his or her heels to just below the kneecaps; and they're worn slouchy, with the perfect amount of elastic to provide coverage but remain loose and comfortable. Some legwarmers, however, cover a dancer's foot up all the way to the toes and are equipped with padded grips on the soles. Others can extend to cover part of a dancer's thigh.

In the early '80s, non-dancers began taking to legwarmers as a fashion accessory. Many teenage girls picked up on the trend — wearing them over tights, stretch pants and even blue jeans — after movies like "Fame (1980)" and "Flashdance (1983)" hit the silver screen. It wasn't long before people started turning to legwarmers as an aerobics accessory, not only to keep the lower portions of their legs warm, but also because legwarmers were in style. Some bicyclists also wear leg warmers, but more so to keep their legs warm or better protected from the elements and insects.


Football Team Socks

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Football socks are the perfect indication that technology has changed in the protective and comfort aspect of a player’s uniform. Professionally, players wear socks that cover their entire foot and extend up to just under the kneecap. Football socks come in a variety of colors and sometimes feature stripes. For games, players wear socks that match their team’s uniform colors. In football, the most important function of socks is to keep feet cool and dry. Specialty football socks are uniquely constructed to support the toes and heels, have ventilation and cushioned foot beds.

There are at least two things that even those who can’t follow the plays know about American football: It’s typically played in the autumn, and it’s an intense contact sport. Because of these things, players’ uniforms have evolved to include protective equipment, which has become a very important part of the game. In high school, college and professional football, players are required to wear a padded helmet, shoulder pads, hip pads and kneepads as part of their uniforms, which also include socks and cleats. The highly protective, padded equipment was introduced to the game decades ago and continues to get better.

Football’s origin is traced to the United Kingdom the mid-19th Century, however many versions of the game were being played leisurely in the first half of the century. Professional football wasn’t organized until 1892, when William “Pudge” Heffelfinger made history by paying players a $500 contract to play for the Allegheny Athletic Association against the Pittsburg Athletic Club. In 1903, the first professional “league” was formed — the Ohio League — and soon after, in 1919, the first championship was played between the Buffalo Prospects and the Canton Bulldogs. A year later, in 1920, the American Professional Football League was formed; and two years later, the name changed to the National Football league, which remains the major league of American football today. There are currently 32 teams in the NFL.


Hockey Socks

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Many hockey players wear two sets of socks: a liner sock and protective. Liner socks are designed to keep a player's feet warm and dry, whether from sweat or melted ice. The outer, protective is form-fitted and typically worn over protective gear, like shin pads and near guards. They're traditionally made or a synthetic rib-knit fabric and colored to match a team's uniform. Oftentimes, they're head up in a garter-type fashion, reaching from ankle to thigh and attaching to under shorts. In the mid 20th century, a newer style of hockey socks allowed for a player's socks to be pulled over the outside of the skate near the heel. According to the USA Hockey association, a jersey, socks and other protective equipment are required in what's considered a team uniform. Adult hockey socks are usually 30 inches and junior socks should be around 24 inches.

Hockey is another sport with a storied past. The earliest reference of the work hockey was written in a letter from William Pierre Le Cocq in Cheshire, Buckinghamshire, England. The sport is believed to have originated in the early 19th Century, when European immigrants introduced different types of outdoor stick-and-ball games to Canada and adapted them to its icy conditions. The Irish brought to Canada the game sport of hurling, the English brought over "Bandie," and the Scotts brought over "Shinty," which is closely related to how the game of hockey is played today. These types of games actually date back to pre-Christian era. Paintines from the early 1800s illustrate a game of "shinney," played in Nova Scotia, Canada, with no know trace of rules. With the introduction of indoor arenas, the sport has become part of the American pastime.

Today, ice hockey is the most popular sport in areas that are more often cold than warm with a reliable season of ice over water. Canada, the Czech Repulic, Latvia, Finland and Sweden in the Nordic, Russia, Slovakia, Switzerland and the United States are the most supportive countries of the sport. It's one of the four major North American professional sports, and is run by the National Hockey Association in the United States, which wasn't established until 1917. Today there are 30 teams, although the league only started with five.


Lacrosse Socks

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The main purpose of lacrosse socks is to keep a player's feet dry and provide protection to the foot. In Lacrosse, a player is constantly moving, and feet are what do most of the work. Lacrosse socks cover the foot and mid-calf. They're often colorful, matching a teams uniform, and are many times argyle. Some say it doesn't matter how good your cleats are: if you don't have a good pair of lacrosse socks, you could end up hurt.

Like hockey, lacrosse originated in Canada, but it was introduced by the Iroquois and Huron American Indian Tribes. It, too, was a stick-and-ball game, only at the end of a lacrosse stick is a net strung with lose rope, used for catching, carrying and throwing a rubber ball. The idea is to score as many points as possible by getting the ball into the opponents' goal by using only the netted stick and your feet to get you across the field.

Through the sport's history, lacrosse has acquired three major types: men's field lacrosse, women's lacrosse and box lacrosse. It is one of the oldest team sports in America, and some believe lacrosse began being played as a game as early as the 1100s. Since then, however, it has undergone many modifications. Traditionally, as it was played by the American Indians in Canada, lacrosse teams consisted of 100 to 1,000 men on a field that ranged from 500 yards in length to a few miles long. The games began at sunup and wouldn't conclude until sundown, sometimes for three days on end. Lacrosse games like this were typically played as part of a ceremonial ritual.

It was as early as 1637 that lacrosse was recorded as a sport, when French Jesuit Jean de Brebeuf wrote about it after watching a tribe of Iroquois play the game. The origin of the sport's name is traced back to the French "le jeu de la crosse" term, meaning field hockey. In the mid-19th Century, lacrosse leagues and associations began popping up all over North America. By the 1900s, several high schools and universities began offering lacrosse programs. It was first showcased in the Olympics as a demonstration sport in 1928. Today lacrosse is recognized as both a men's and women's sport and is played throughout Europe, Africa and the United States, as well as in many other nations.


Running Socks

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The type of shoes an athlete wears typically determines the type of socks they'll wear underneath them. This is no different for runners, which typically wear shoes that reach to just below the ankle. Like their shoes, runners' socks are equally as shallow and the best pairs are designed to absorb sweat. Some running socks are anatomically designed to fit the left and right foot, offering cushioning in specific areas, as well as seamless toe areas to eliminate abrasive rubbing. Running socks come in all different colors and patterns.

Running is an activity that requires having the feet in constant contact with the ground, one foot at a time, and together moving at a rapid pace. It was initially developed as a human ability 4.5 million years ago to hunt animals, and scientists have recently theorized the ability to sustain long-distance running as an influential piece in the evolution of human anatomy.

Several thousands of years later, running became a competitive activity during religious festivals. While the first recorded Olympic Games were recorded in 776 BC, the first competitive running games were not recorded until the Tailteann Games in Ireland in 1829. Many upper schools, middle schools, high schools and universities today have track programs. Track is a sport in which runners score points by making the best running times, jumping hurdles and much more. Running is a fundamental part of all track events.

Many people run as a form of exercise because it uses more energy than walking when traveling the same amount of distance. Contrary to popular belief, however, running burns less calories per unit of distance than the same unit of distance produced by walking, even though running is a faster means of traveling. Running does increase the heart rate, which when escalated is known to create perspiration and burn fat. The rise and fall of body weight and shock absorbency during taking off and landing expends energy opposing gravity, which can cause knee problems in some people. Having a good pair of running shoes is important alleviate the affects of this.


Rugby Socks

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Rugby socks cover a player's feet and extend to their knees. The striped knee-high socks have been a part of Rugby players' uniforms since the sport originated in 1750 at Rugby School. Rugby derives from football and is widely considered a similar version of the sport. The very first set official of rules for rugby were written at Rugby School in 1870. In many rugby-playing countries, the sport is known for being played by members of the upper- and middle-class. It was first played in English public schools, and the common form is comparable to a mix between American football and soccer. In rugby, the ball is handled or thrown and sometimes kicked.

There are currently two organizations for rugby: the Rugby Union and the Rugby League. Both have professional and amateur players. A rugby ball has four panels and is oval shaped. Rugby players shirts were originally made of cotton but have since evolved to a polyester-cotton mix that's best for absorbing water, sweat and mud from a payer's body.

Jersey colors and designs depend on what rugby organization's game is being played. Rugby League players wear jerseys with a large V around the neck and tend to be more colorful than Rugby Union jerseys. Rugby Union players wear jerseys that are more traditional and sometimes are completely white. Most Rugby Union teams, however, wear a solid-color jersey with striped socks.


Skater Socks

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Derby girls are known for their toughness and their funk. During a roller derby match, they wear roller skates, which are what makes the sport what it is. Underneath a derby girl's skates, you'll almost always find a pair of knee-high socks. And underneath those, you'll almost always find a fierce pair of socks, fishnets or nylon stockings.

Roller derby is an American sport. Its origins are in sports entertainment. How it works is two teams — almost always made up of females nowadays — skate in formation around an oval track. The idea is for a designated skater to make laps around the opposing team's skaters, and points are scored thusly. Roller derby is a fast-paced contact sport, so skaters wear helmets, kneepads, wrist guards and other protective gear. The first games of competitive roller derby can be traced back to endurance races between the 1880s and 1920s.

Skating socks are typically thick to alleviate abrasive rubbing from skates. While most inline and ice skates have a sort of built-in sock, it's still essential for a skater to wear a pair covering their feet and extending to at least above the rim of the skate, which typically cover the entire ankle. There are several different types of skating: ice skating, roller skating, skate boarding, snow boarding and snow skating. Ice skating is believed to have originated in Finland 4,000 years ago. The steel blades of ice skates nowadays are a far cry from what they were originally: sharpened pieces of bone, which were strapped to the bottom on boots. Ice skating is now a revered winter Olympic sport.

Like ice skating, skateboarding can be a form of art, a method of travel or a performance due to a series of tricks. Unlike ice skating, however, skateboarders don't wear skates — they wear sneakers. Many skateboarders spend their time learning tricks. A recent study found that there are more than 18 million skateboarders in the world. The sport originated sometime between 1940 and 1960, and now there are several famous skateboarders — Tony Hawke and Shaun White — with brands of clothing or videogames. There are several different competitions held each year.


Soccer Socks

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Soccer socks come in a variety of colors and styles and are very important to a player during the game. They cover the entire foot, the shin and calf and extend to just below a player’s knee. Some have built in shin guards, however it’s not uncommon for a player to wear separate shin guards covered by socks. One function of soccer socks is to help hold shin guards in place. Soccer socks should be light enough to reduce bunching in shoes, and better pairs have moisture ventilation to help with sweat. Some of the best soccer socks have arch support to prevent foot fatigue.

Soccer is the most popular sport in the world. The proper name is association football. In parts of Europe, it’s known as football. In America, it’s known as soccer. Like many other sports, it’s played between two teams. The idea is for players to kick a spherical ball into the net of their opposing team, which is guarded by a goaltender. When the ball is kicked or driven into the opposing team’s net, a goal is scored. The team with the most goals at the end of a game wins. Games are typically played outdoors on rectangular fields of grass or artificial turf. Hands and arms cannot be used as a means to pass, stop or score goals. Players are penalized for using them.

Today’s rules of soccer are based off of rules that were established in the mid-19th Century to standardize many different variations of the game that were being played throughout England at public schools. The first set of soccer rules, considered the Cambridge Rules, was drawn up in Cambridge University in 1848. FIFA, the current international governing body of football, or soccer, was established in Paris in 1904. FIFA, in English, translates to the International Federation of Association Football. Today, FIFA has more than 200 members.

Soccer, or football, is professionally played globally. While millions of people around the world watch the games in stadiums, billions are known to watch their country’s teams on television or online. A country typically has one professional team, which compete in hopes of winning the World Cup each summer. Soccer is also an Olympic sport. According to a study conducted by FIFA, more than 240 million people play at the amateur level in more than 200 countries. Soccer has the highest international global audience of any sport.


Volleyball Socks

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With the exception of beach volleyball — often played with no shoes or socks — volleyball players wear socks that cover their entire foot and extend to their mid-calf. Above them, players wear kneepads. Volleyball socks are typically colored to match a team or school's colors and should be designed to absorb sweat, like most other sporting socks. Volleyball is played between two teams on a court divided by a net, over which a spherical ball is volleyed back and fourth by way of players' hands, wrists and arms. Points are scored when a player grounds the ball on the other team's turf. The team with the most points at the end wins. Both volleyball and beach volleyball are currently recognized as Olympic sports.

Volleyball was first played as a variation between tennis and handball — a sport that consists of throwing or passing a ball to players in order to score a goal in the opposing team's net — around the time basketball was picking up. A Holyoke, Massachusetts physical education teacher at a YMCA created a game called Mintonette, which was designed to be less rough than basketball and played by older athletes. The rules of Mintonette were first established in 1895 and in 1896, the game became known as volleyball.

Volleyball's history in the Olympics dates back to the 1924 summer games in Paris, where it was played as an American sport demonstration. The number of countries representing volleyball teams in the Olympics has grown steadily since 1964, when it was first officially included as a summer Olympic game. There are five continental volleyball confederations, and each typically has one affiliated national team participating in the summer Olympics each year. Not to mention, many upper schools, middle schools, high schools and universities have volleyball programs; and many people play amateur volleyball for recreation.