The right gear is of paramount importance in every sport; be it cricket, basketball, tennis or athletics. Each sport has some unique requirement and the clothes should be able to meet those, while providing comfort, protection and decoration to the players. Apart from these basic objectives, sports clothing also helps to differentiate between teams and individuals from one another in various sports.
Well-dressed teams often have a psychological advantage derived from the satisfaction of looking and feeling good, as well as the presence of an enhanced personality. Watkins stated in 1984 that clothing creates the most intimate environment that is carried everywhere with the individual.
From tracksuits and shell suits in clashing colour combinations, also voted as the worst fashion disaster of the last 50 years, sports fashion has evolved by leaps and bounds. Sports clothing is also one of the best ways to protect from injury-causing impact, especially in contact sports. With protective sports gear that includes body padding, football helmets, pads and shin guards, it helps restrict and diffuse an impact.
As artificial turfs began developing, new types of injuries surfaced, giving rise to the need of a more protective sports gear. Moreover, it is an established fact that sports clothing needs to be more flexible and dynamic, allowing greatest possible freedom to the sportsperson. More importantly, sports clothing needed to be different from regular wear, as that creates a layer of insulation to trap heat. While exercising, the body produces more heat and, hence, sports clothing needs to be of a material that allows the body to breathe.
Today, sports clothing is a scientific area that encompasses psychology, physics and kinesiology. The latter is closely related to physiology, anatomy and biomechanics that looks into clothing design kinematics dealing with movement variables. The sport, weather, societal norms, occasion and values are other factors that are responsible for the variation in different sports clothing.
With the development of performance fabrics and fibres, sports clothing has taken on a higher leap. After decades of research, various fabric technologies have been introduced that are meant to boost the performance of sportsperson with features such as waterproof barriers, breathable and fleece. Fabrics have been created to counter problems of temperature control, sweat management, protection and safety, performance enhancement as well as water and wind resistance.
New technology with phase change material and UV protection are being developed to meet identified needs of sportsmen. From basic clothing to technologically advanced hi-tech version, sports clothing is certainly what it used to be earlier.
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