If you’ve ever watched a professional volleyball match, you’ll notice the white tape wrapped around the players’ fingers. While it may look odd to an observer it actually serves an important purpose. And if you’re thinking of taking up volleyball yourself you may be wondering, why do volleyball players tape their fingers while playing.
All sports come with their own set of occupational hazards and there is always a risk of injury. However, various protocols are put into place to prevent harm to the players, and believe it or not taping fingers is an example of exactly that.
In this guide, we’re going to explore why players tape their fingers, what type of tape they use, and the proper method for taping. Before you decide whether or not to do it yourself, you need to understand the how and why of the situation.
What is finger tapping in volleyball?
Athletic tapping has a lot of value in many different sports. For volleyball particularly the benefits of finger tapping are what encourage many players to do it during matches and practice sessions.
If you haven’t seen volleyball players tape their fingers before you might be wondering what it is. Finger tapping is when you wrap your fingers with athletic tape to maintain a particular position of the fingers. This can help restrict painful movement, avoid injury and safeguard your hands. After all, in an impact sport like volleyball protecting your extremities is essential.
Why do volleyball players tape their hands?
It might seem odd to those who do not play the sport, but most regular volleyball players tape their fingers. The answer to why is simple, dry cracking skin.
With the player’s hands being the most common point of contact during matches they can be prone to dryness and blistering. Play volleyball daily and your palms and fingers undergo a great deal of stress. Moves such as the topspin can cause a lot of irritation to the player’s fingers resulting in injury if not properly dealt with.
The result of all of this is cracked skin on the fingertips or cracks in the palms of the player’s hands, which can be incredibly painful. These injuries are very common and can take a lot of time to heal, potentially putting a player on the bench.
While the curative solution is hydration and moisturizing, the preventive solution most players opt for is tapping your fingers.
In the case of an injured player taping their fingers, this process can help speed up the healing process. The added layer between your skin and the ball absorbs some of the impact. By locking the position of the fingers and restricting movement tapping reduces the potential to aggravate an existing injury.
How should you be taping your fingers?
Now that you know why volleyball players tape their fingers you may be wondering on the best way to do it yourself. While it’s best to consider the insights of your doctor, trainer, or coach beforehand, here are some general guidelines on how you can tape your fingers to get the most benefits.
- Lay your hand flat on a hard and smooth surface
- Fold the gauze to the length of your finger and place it below it. If you want to tape two fingers together, place the gauze between both fingers.
- Wrap the gauze with athletic tape around 3 times to secure it into place and prevent it from loosening up due to sweat.
- To strengthen it, wrap extra tape between the joints of your fingers.
To properly tape your fingers, it is important to understand why you need to do so in the first place. In the case of an injury, it is crucial that taping is performed correctly or else it might get worse than better. Remember, the goal of this exercise is not to exert pressure on your joints, pull your fingers in an uncomfortable way, or continue playing with a serious injury.
Injured players should prioritize their long-term health and wellbeing over one or two matches. And if the way you’re taping is hurting you or causing any kind of stress then you’re doing it wrong.
Volleyball taping techniques
There are a variety of taping techniques that players use to help serve different purposes. We will be discussing a few of these techniques, how to perform each and what they can be helpful for.
- To add strength
Have you ever accidentally hit your fingers against a hard surface? If you have you’ll know it’s painful. Volleyball players have to hit and block a ball coming towards them at full force. This can be intense for their fingers.
As a result players tape their fingers to increase strength and provide a layer that lessens the impact. Commonly known as “buddy taping,” players tape two or more of their fingers together.
This is done by:
- Place a piece of gauze between the two fingers you wish to tape together to reduce friction and avoid discomfort once taped.
- Making sure the gauze does not slip out of place, tape the two fingers together using athletic tape.
- Additionally, a strip of tape can be added over the fingernails to protect them from impact as well.
- To prevent bending of the fingers
Another common use of taping is to keep the straight position of the fingers and prevent them from bending when coming in contact with the ball. This is especially important when the player’s fingers are swollen or injured as it prevents further aggravation.
To stop the fingers from bending the tape is wrapped in a crisscross manner over the joint to keep it straight. This method is as follows:
- Place the end of the piece of tape above the first knuckle. Starting from the outer side of the finger carefully wrap it.
- After the tape is wrapped once around the finger, cross it diagonally over the knuckle and pull it from under the finger to the opposite diagonal side.
- Repeat this step and secure the tape back over the top. Your knuckles will now stay in a straight position as you play.
- To protect against a previous injury
When a volleyball player sprains their fingers the healing process can take quite some time. This can cause not only a tremendous amount of pain for the player but also difficulty in moving their fingers.
The best solution is taking a few days off and letting the injury heal to prevent the symptoms from dragging out. However, if the player has commitments on the court the best way to protect the fingers is by taping them. It is best that players first consult their doctor or team trainer before tapping their fingers themselves.
The general taping method to protect injured fingers is as follows:
- Place the fingers on a flat surface and first wrap them in a layer of gauze.
- Depending on the doctor’s recommendation and type of injury use either athletic tape or stretchy tape (in the case of swelling) to wrap the finger around its base. To secure this further repeat around 3 to 4 times.
- For increased protection to wrap extra strips of tape around the joints.
- To protect the nail
Fingertips and nails come in the direct line of contact when it comes to volleyball. A nail chipping off during a match is a common and painful problem many hitters and blockers face.
Taping your fingernails can help prevent the risk of the player’s nail breaking off while being hit by the ball. The nail breaking within the finger bed can cause quite severe pain and put a player’s hands under serious stress.
The process for this type of taping is as follows:
- The pieces of tape must be around 3 inches long
- Attach the tape slightly above the tips of your fingers
- Wrap the tape around your fingertip and nail making sure all areas are properly covered
- Take another piece of tape with the same 3-inch length and place it above the nail horizontally to secure the previous tape bound.
Which kind of tape should you use?
While the taping technique is important to ensure that the player’s fingers are protected, equally important is the kind of tape that is used.
Do not make the mistake of using white electrical tape for your fingers as it will only cause further irritation. It is recommended that you use athletic tape since it is designed exactly for this purpose and rests gently against your skin.
If your fingers are swollen stretchy tape is also recommended as it helps reduce the swelling by applying the correct pressure to it. A popular form of tape, Kinesio tape is also used by volleyball players but is slightly more costly than regular athletic tape.
While the importance of taping is recognized by many players across different types of sports, its use is indispensable to volleyball players. Perfect for almost every situation its multiple uses are what make it so popular.
If you are new to taping your fingers it’s always better to have an experienced player or coach walk you through the correct way of doing so initially. With a little practice you’ll be able to tape your fingers without any issues.
Using the correct techniques and the tape type can make all the difference and help protect or heal a player’s fingers much more effectively.