Why Do Volleyball Players Tape Their Fingers

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If you’ve been watching volleyball long enough, you’re bound to notice that most players have white or brown material wrapped around their fingers. Those are finger tapes, and they are a common sight in the sport. But why do volleyball players tape their fingers?

Players in volleyball tape their fingers to protect them from injury or injury exacerbation. Applying athletic tape on fingers helps to reduce the risk of suffering a sprained, jammed, or cracked finger. It also keeps the nails from breaking.

This article will discuss all of the reasons for finger taping in volleyball. You’ll also learn a lot about finger care and recovering from finger injuries. Here’s a brief rundown of the topics:

  • What is Volleyball Finger Taping?
  • Every Reason for Volleyball Finger Taping
  • How to Tape Your Fingers for Volleyball
  • How to Care for Sprained or Jammed Fingers
  • Conclusion

What is Volleyball Finger Taping?

Finger taping is the practice of wrapping the fingers with athletic tape for extra protection and stability. Some volleyball players wrap their entire fingers while others wrap only a portion, such as the tips or knuckle area. Typically, they apply the tape directly on the skin.

It’s not illegal for players to use gloves, in case you’re wondering. However, some gloves will come under scrutiny if they appear to give an unfair advantage.

Also, wearing gloves could take away your feel of the volleyball, which is vital in a game. That is why the majority of players prefer to use tape.

Players also tape other parts of the body, including:

  • Wrists
  • Ankles
  • Knees
  • Shoulders

Of the above body parts, it’s more common to see tapes on wrists and ankles.

So, how does taping really protect the fingers? And are there other reasons players tape their fingers? You’ll find all the answers to these questions in the next section.

Every Reason for Volleyball Finger Taping

1. To Keep Fingers from Bending

Volleyball is a game that involves hitting the ball with an open hand. Sometimes, players have to connect with part or all of their fingers. When this happens, the fingers bend backward.

Most times, the bend doesn’t hurt, but with time, you may start to feel some pain. In more severe cases, the bending leads to a sprain. Taping your fingers using a criss-cross technique could keep them from bending too often.

2. To Protect the Nails

Volleyball players always run the risk of breaking their fingernails. The risk is higher if you play as a hitter or blocker.

Broken nails could occur only at the tip or may cause the entire nail to detach from the finger. This leads to bleeding accompanied by a considerable amount of pain and discomfort.

To prevent broken or chipped fingernails, volleyball players tape their fingers, starting from the fingertips all the way to the base. 

3. To Allow Sprained or Jammed Fingers to Recover

One of the most common injuries in volleyball games is a finger sprain or jam. This is an injury to the ligaments connecting the finger and the hand. It causes swelling and pain, making it difficult to play with that hand.

Sprained fingers typically heal between 1 to 6 weeks, depending on their severity. However, playing volleyball with the injured hand could prolong your recovery unless you have the proper protection.

The first step to dealing with a finger sprain is to rest that hand for a few days. After that, you can practice with it, but only if you have taped it properly.

Taping the sprained finger will protect it from more damage and allow it to heal faster.

4. To Strengthen the Fingers

It takes strength to spike a ball hard in a volleyball game. Hitters, especially, need to land as much force on the ball as possible to maximize the chances of scoring a point. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that the fingers can withstand such force without injury.

By taping your fingers in a certain way (typically in pairs), you get to increase their strength. This technique allows you to hit the ball harder while feeling less pain for your efforts.

Similar to how knee pads give volleyball players the confidence to dive without fear of injury, finger-taping also allows you to hit the ball more confidently.

5. To Prevent Dry Skin

Many volleyball players suffer from dry skin or xerosis at their fingertips. As you continue to hit the ball every day in games and practice, the outer layer of your fingers’ skin continues to stretch. The topspin causes this to happen faster than any other volleyball strike.

Normally, the skin should repair itself, but it needs time to do this, which it’s unlikely to get because of your playing schedule. In cold weather conditions, the stretching eventually causes the skin to crack.

Crack fingers are painful; hence, they will affect your gameplay. To prevent this problem, volleyball players wear tape on their fingers, thereby retaining moisture on the skin and keeping it from cracking.

6. To Improve Grip

Although this reason isn’t as common as the rest, there are players who tape their fingers, hoping for a better grip. Improved grip strength will offer more ball control and allow players to pull off moves, such as the topspin, more effectively.

However, this reason is a finger-taping myth. There is no evidence that wearing tape on the fingers will significantly improve grip.

How to Tape Your Fingers for Volleyball

Your method of finger-taping should correspond with your reasons for taping in the first place. You may use any reliable athletic tape to achieve all of the results. In some cases, you may need to use gauze along with the tape.

The following are the various finger-taping procedures based on the reasons we explained in the previous section of this post.

Bending Prevention

This method uses the criss-cross volleyball finger-taping technique.

  1. Begin by wrapping the outer part of your finger (the part furthest from the palm).
  2. Tape from the first joint, which is a few millimeters below the fingernail.
  3. Cross the tape over the knuckle to form a diagonal path.
  4. Pull it to the knuckle of an adjacent finger.
  5. Re-cross the tape back to the fingertips and wrap. 
  6. Redo the entire process for other fingers.

Fingernail Protection

  1. Cut out a 3-inch-long piece of athletic tape.
  2. Stick one end to the area that holds your fingerprint.
  3. Pull the other end of the tape over your fingertip, your fingernail, and then the actual finger.
  4. Ensure the volleyball finger tape covers every part of the nail.
  5. Get another 3-inch-long tape and wrap the first tape to ensure its stability.

Injured Finger Protection

  1. Place the back of your palm against a flat and hard surface.
  2. Wrap the injured finger with gauze.
  3. Wrap the entire gauze-covered finger with tape.
  4. Cover the finger in 3 to 4 tape layers.
  5. Cross some taping between joints for extra stability.

Finger Strengthening

This method, popularly known as buddy taping, involves taping two fingers together so they share the burden whenever you hit the ball with force.

  1. Use gauze to create a friction buffer or separation layer between the two fingers that you intend to tape together.
  2. Press both fingers against the gauze and simultaneously cover them with tape wrapping, beginning with the base area.
  3. While wrapping, be careful not to overtighten, as this can affect blood circulation and lead to discomfort.
  4. Wrap more tape around both joints.
  5. Wrap tape around both fingertips (optional).

Prevention of Cracked Fingers

  1. Cut out a piece of tape based on how much of your finger you want to cover (approximately twice the length of the area).
  2. Stick one end of the tape to the base of the area of interest.
  3. Draw the other end of the tape over the fingertip to reach the other side of the finger (both ends should align on each side).
  4. Ensure the taping is tight enough.
  5. Get another piece of tape and wrap it on the finger from base to tip.
  6. Tuck all the edges in.
  7. Repeat the procedure on the other fingers.

How to Care for Sprained or Jammed Fingers

Sprained and jammed fingers remain common issues in volleyball. If you suffer from this injury, you would want to recover as soon as possible.

The best way to do that is to follow the tips we offer below. They will hasten your recovery and have you back in action ASAP.

Give yourself a break

You might be tempted to play right after sustaining the injury. However, this will only lengthen your recovery timeline. Take a break as soon as you damage the finger.

Consult a physician

If you feel an extreme amount of pain, you should reach out to a physician. You may have suffered a fracture rather than a sprain.

Apply ice compress

Put some ice into a bag and hold them onto your injured finger for 15 minutes. You can do this several times a day.

Use recommended anti-inflammatory drugs

While an ice pack helps with inflammation, it’s best if you buy anti-inflammatory drugs recommended by a physician or pharmacist.

Tape fingers for strength

Use the method above to tape your finger with another and provide it with extra strength and stability.

Exercise the finger

As soon as you notice healing in the finger, exercise it by moving it through the regular motions it should be used to: stretching, straightening, bending, etc.

Final Thoughts on Why Do Volleyball Players Tape Their Fingers

Along with knee pads, athletic tape has come to stay in the world of volleyball because of its undeniable value.

Injuries will keep you out of games and ruin your form. Hence, we recommend you start taping your fingers if you don’t already. It might take a while to get used to, but soon you will have no problem playing your best game with taped fingers.

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