Volleyball is a sport that puts your ankles through a lot. So, it’s no surprise that the ankle is the most at risk and injured body part associated with the sport. There may be hundreds of ankle braces out there, but there are only really a few that deliver everything a player needs.
We reviewed dozens of ankle braces for volleyball to find the best of the best. We looked at the different types of braces, such as mechanical, sock, and gel/air pocket designs as well as durability, comfort, their main purpose, and price.
We also evaluated braces best suited for different players until we arrived at just the 5 of the best volleyball ankle braces. These provide the right amount of ankle support, compression, protection, and comfort without too much immobilization that would restrict movement.
Best Volleyball Ankle Braces
- Best Overall: Zamst A2-DX, “It really gives that “locked-in” feeling, giving you the confidence that you can jump, dig, and move around the court with the intensity you require.”
- Runner-Up: Ultra Zoom Ankle Brace, “Just as good as the A2-DX but easier to put on.”
- Best for Front Row Players: Active Ankle T2, “The Active Ankle T2 is the company’s most popular, particularly among volleyball players at the net.”
- Most Comfortable: Mizuno DXS2, “One of the more comfortable ankle braces and offers a bit more movement than others.”
- Best for Beach Volleyball: Crucial Compression Ankle Brace, “A lightweight brace that allows for a high range of mobility.”
Our Top Volleyball Ankle Braces Picks
The best of the best. So good it's used by top athletesCheck Amazon for Pricing
Particularly popular with players who repeatedly suffer ankle injuries, and need a greater level of protection and support, the Zamst A2-DX takes the top pick.
It may not be the cheapest option out there. But if it’s good enough for one of the best NBA players, Steph Curry, to put enough trust in it to wear day in day out, it will no doubt handle everything you can put it through.
Just be sure to give yourself a few minutes to put it on. This isn’t a slip-on in a couple of seconds, and you’re good to go sort of ankle brace. The additional time spent putting it on soon becomes worth it, though. It really gives that “locked-in” feeling, giving you the confidence that you can jump, dig, and move around the court with the intensity you require and have no hesitation appear when making a play.
Zamst A2-DX Key Features
- Unrivaled protection
- Used by professionals
- Anatomically correct fit
- Highly durable
Just as good as the A2-DX but easier to put onCheck Amazon for Pricing
This ankle brace from Ultra Zoom is a great alternative to the Zamst. Like the Zamst, it’s highly durable and delivers unrivaled support and protection.
If you’re trying to decide between the two, there isn’t much between them. You can make a case that the Ultra Zoom is easier to put on, it is also slightly cheaper. Ultimately, you will be happy with either one, and both will provide the support and protection you need.
Just keep in mind that it can squeak a little after a few months, but it’s nothing that a bit of lubricant can’t fix. It’s also a good idea to wear high socks when wearing it for added comfort due to its design.
Ultra Zoom Ankle Brace Key Features
- Excellent protection
- Highly durable
- Easy to put on
This brace is especially popular with volleyball playersCheck Amazon for Pricing
Active Ankle makes several braces, but it is the Active Ankle T2 that is the company’s most popular, particularly among volleyball players at the net. This is because players at the net are involved in lots of jumping due to all the blocking and spiking they do. This increases the possibility of landing on their teammate’s opponent’s foot. A high level of support without limiting mobility is provided, especially front-to-back.
It is the only ankle brace on this list that is interchangeable, meaning that it can be used on either foot. This alone makes it worth checking out.
Active Ankle T2 Key Features
- Designed for players at the net
- Allows for a wide range of movement
Another brace that is very popular with volleyball players in particularCheck Amazon for Pricing
Mizuno is one of the most trusted brands in the sport, making some of the best volleyball shoes going. You can expect to find the same high quality in their ankle braces.
The Mizuno DXS2 is one of the more comfortable ankle braces and offers a bit more movement than others. It is made from anti-bacterial and deodorizing material, which is a nice touch, although at the end of the day it will still need to be washed – just not as often as others.
Mizuno DXS2 Key Features
- Allows for a wide range of movement
- Anti-bacterial design to keep fresher for longer
A lightweight brace that allows for a high range of mobilityCheck Amazon for Pricing
If you play volleyball on the beach instead of a hardcourt you still need a good amount of support, but it’s probably a good idea to choose a brace that allows for a very wide range of mobility. The Crucial Compression Ankle Brace is a great option to consider.
- Allows for a wide range of movement
Should Volleyball Players Wear Ankle Braces?
If you play volleyball at least somewhat regularly and are concerned about ankle injuries, an ankle brace is a must. While an injury can occur to anyone on the team, it affects players at the net even more as they are involved in lots of jumping through blocking and spiking.
Another advantage is quicker healing and recovery from a current injury. Because an ankle brace is designed to limit the motions that can cause an injury in the first place, the ligaments, muscles, and tendons will stop being put under pressure as you recover. This results in faster recovery. A good ankle brace for recovery should provide immobilization which will allow your ankle to heal as its put under less stress.
So if you’re a player or concerned parent and wondering if ankle braces are worth buying, the answer is definitely yes.
Different Types of Ankle Braces
There are 3 different types to consider:
- Sock This is the simplest brace. Just slide it on like you would a sock and you’re done. They have a one-size-fits-all design. Due to its simplicity and effectiveness, the sock brace tends to be the most popular. It does a good job of providing extra support (some would argue too much) and is better suited for injury recovery than prevention. It is the least durable of the three.
- Mechanical The mechanical ankle brace is the best for injury prevention. It is designed to be strapped on and wrap around the ankle. A good level of padding and highly durable, it tends to be the more expensive, yet perhaps not as comfortable option. It is the best option to wear when playing.
- Gel/Air Pockets This is much better suited for healing. The addition of gel or air pockets makes this type of brace very comfortable. It is able to rapidly decrease swelling and discomfort by providing support and compression to get you back on the court as soon as possible. The Aircast AirSport Ankle Support Brace is a great choice if you’re looking for this sort of option.
Important Features to Consider When Buying an Ankle Brace for Volleyball
- Comfort: Even though ankle braces do a fantastic job of reducing the likelihood of injury, if they are uncomfortable you are unlikely to wear them – at least consistently. Some models have a certain design that can affect comfort. The Ultra Zoom model, for example, should be worn with high socks for better comfort.
- Durability: If you find yourself on the court every day, playing hard, you need an ankle brace that can withstand the intensity you put it through. It would therefore be better to spend a bit more from the onset to ensure the brace will last.
- Purpose (Injury Support/Recovery/Prevention): Do you need an ankle brace to prevent injury or help you recover more quickly. As mentioned above, if it is the former then a mechanical brace would be better suited; if the latter, a sock or gel brace is the one to go for.
- Volleyball Position: If you primarily play at the net your game will involve more motions that will put your ankles under pressure than other players on the team. You will therefore require an ankle brace that offers a higher level of protection and is more durable, which often comes at the expense of mobility.
- Adjustability: Ankle braces don’t necessarily have a one size fits all approach. The best ones allow for some form of adjustability to tailor a better fit. A brace for volleyball should have a snug fit while still allowing for a wide range of movement.
- Breathability: Breathability may not be a factor you originally considered, but it’s an important one for the enhanced comfort. You probably wouldn’t buy a pair of volleyball shoes that aren’t breathable – and the same applies to braces.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does wearing ankle braces weaken ankles?
Many players seem to think that wearing an ankle brace can weaken the ankle. However, clinical research has shown this to be untrue. There is also evidence to suggest that ankle braces do not negatively affect on-court performance.
Can you wash ankle braces?
Yes, you can and should wash ankle braces. Any brace you buy should come with instructions on how to wash it. Typically, hand washing in cold water with a mild soap or laundry detergent is recommended. A more natural solution is to soak in white vinegar and water for 20-30 minutes. The brace should then be air-dried.
The foul odor isn’t the only reason to wash an ankle brace, washing will extend its life and avoid any chance of staph, fungal infections, or folliculitis setting in. It’s therefore also a good idea to use disinfectant after practice.
How long does it take to put on an ankle brace?
How long it takes to put on an ankle brace depends on the type of brace worn. A sock brace, for example, will not take as long as a mechanical brace to put on. Don’t let the time taken to put on a brace affect your buying decision. Typically, the longer it takes to put a brace on, the better it can be tailored to fit, and the better protection it can provide.
Are braces with antimicrobial linings effective?
Yes, buying braces with antimicrobial linings are recommended and effective. While this doesn’t mean that you will never have to wash the brace again, it will allow you to go longer between washings. The biggest benefit, though, is that antimicrobial linings will help prevent nasty rashes.
Should you also tape your ankle?
There’s no harm in taping your ankle and wearing an ankle brace at the same time – in fact, it’s actually encouraged. Just know that an ankle brace will offer more ankle protection, so should be the priority.
Is an ankle brace made of neoprene or nylon better?
This depends on what you are more concerned with. A neoprene ankle brace is lighter and more comfortable, but also more expensive and does not breathe as well. Nylon is cheaper and provides better ventilation to avoid overheating.