THE MISSING ATHLETIC CUP: Why younger athletes need them the most

Hitting puberty, then 18, then 21, is a rite of passage in many ways for all boys and men. But growing up while in sports also means learning to protect his body, especially their very sensitive testicles. 

Studies have shown that cup usage is dangerously low with younger males. Most would agree that boys in many sports need groin protection as much as adult men do. Examples of serious genital risk include MMA, cricket, football, lacrosse, hockey, and karate. Wearing a cup is required for these sports. Surprising to many is that paintball, handball, downhill biking, and even horseback riding can cause serious testicle pain and even injury. But younger males are at special risk to groin injury. 

Why do boys and teens actually need groin protection the most?

Research shows that boys and teens tend to take groin hits far more frequently than adult men do, but take it less seriously. Why? 

Much of this is due to learning a new sport, inexperience, feeling “invincible” at that age, and not knowing how to protect their groin area as well as adults do. This makes wearing a cup even more important for boys and teens.

As a male athlete ages they become more aware of how easy it is to experience a hard groin hit. It means more experience, including why protecting their genitals is so important.  Even very experienced athletes know that great skill in a sport will not protect their balls.

  • Myth

Boys are more resilient to groin injuries, so it’s less important to wear a cup.

  • Truth

In many ways, younger males are far more susceptible to genital injuries, and it’s more important to protect their testicles.  

The idea of “Oh, I can just take the hit” is something that is common in younger male athletes. But younger doesn’t mean the testicle hit will hurt less, or cause less injury. Boys may have smaller testicles but they are just as sensitive as a mans’ are, and genital protection is equally important.

Boys and teenagers need groin protection.  

In many ways they need it the most.


Watch and learn how you can change your game

Ben Thulen
Sports Injury Researcher, United States

Photo by Ben Hershey 

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