Why do Younger Males Seem to Avoid Them? 

Sports injury research is interesting especially in understanding the mental habits of athletes. This is especially true as it pertains to safety, such as head and groin protection.  An American football player, baseball catcher, or lacrosse athlete would never play without a helmet.  The risk of injury is too great. 

Yet, many no longer wear athletic cups, and see them as nonessential. 

Even as a young child playing baseball “a cup” was not only required, it was important, and I clearly understood this.  Yet, a number of studies in the last 2 decades have shown a huge change in how younger athletes see groin protection, especially with athletic cup usage.  

How Do Younger Men and Boys See Groin Protection? 

In the 1960’s, 70’s and much of the 80's nearly 100% of youth playing American football or baseball wore a jock and cup. They were required to, and coaches would sometimes even check. 

Between 2010 and 2015, data shows that less than 25% of boys (and schools and coaches) require boys to wear a cup. In the NFL, not a single player has confirmed that he wears any type of athletic cup now. This reversal is an obvious safety issue.  

The Modern (and Incorrect) View of Groin Protection.  

In our modern age, the “jockstrap and cup” are sometimes seen as an outdated relic of the past.  Yet, its simple design is efficient, proven, and has protected male athletes since the early 1900’s. 

Modern cups are also far more comfortable, ergonomically designed for the male body, and less expensive.  Yet, far fewer males wear them.  

So what happened? 

Where did the Jockstrap and Cup go?

The change in groin protection behavior is quite odd since protecting the genitals is generally a very high priority to males.  Data shows that this started around the time that compression shorts, sports briefs, and other alternatives to the jockstrap hit the market in the late 1980’s.  Many of these products simply didn’t include a cup or even have a pocket for one.

It also corresponded with schools, coaches and even physicians not pushing for the use of a cup in many sports.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that part of this was the discomfort of adults to talk to younger males about the “groin area”.  In the era of lawsuits, sensitivity to discussing “that area” of the body, and lack of rules about protection, groin protection just seemed to not be as much of a priority.  That is very unfortunate.  

Lessons from the past on groin protection

Obviously if you have a high speed object in sports like a ball, puck, fist, foot, or elbow, it can (and does) hit your groin at times.  Your testicles, unprotected, will remind you at once that they need to be protected. 

The idea that this is not a serious topic ignores the possible serious injuries that can occur.  A hit to the balls is normally debilitating, painful, and worse, can cause a serious injury.  Even if not a serious injury, it can cause an athlete to perform very poorly after the hit.  This is one reason why groin hits are so common in many sports. 

Groin protection should be a “no-brainer” 

Even if your school, coach, parent or friends think wearing a cup is “uncool” or “unnecessary”... THEY are not the ones that feel the horrible pain when you get hit.  In riskier sports like martial arts, horseback riding, lacrosse, baseball… not wearing a cup is simply a risk not worth taking. 

Men and boys can suffer serious, sometimes life changing, injuries and protecting your genitals with a high quality athletic cup is, well… a “no-brainer.”  


Watch and learn how you can change your game

Ben Thulen
Sports Injury Researcher, United States

Photo by Geoff Scott

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