From youth levels all the way up to the pros, football players tape their fingers individually or in pairs. Football requires players to hold on tight to the ball and also requires toughness to escape injury. By taping their fingers, it is commonly thought that football players can gain an edge in both areas. Luckily, there are no rules that disallow the practice of taping fingers.
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Football is a tough game and fingers are inevitably going to get bent in the wrong direction. By taping fingers at the spots where they bend, some players can gain an edge in preventing fingers from being bent backward. Players who need to throw the ball or catch the ball should not tape their fingers on the fulcrums. But for offensive linemen and most defensive players, taping fingers on the joints can prevent dislocations and breaks.
For the unlucky players who suffer finger breaks, dislocations or sprains, there is a practice called "buddy taping" that can allow the finger to heal without the player having to miss any field time. According to the Sports Injury Bulletin, buddy taping involves taping the injured finger to one directly next to it. The player will essentially have four fingers to use but will not experience the pain of bending the injured digit. This practice is a quick fix that players can implement on the sideline, right after an injury occurs.
Some players believe that taping fingers can help with gripping the ball. According to a study listed in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, it was determined that this is not true. The abstract of the study states, "The results of these clinical measurements of grip strength showed that, contrary to the perceptions of professional and major college football players, taping of the fingers or wrists or both the fingers and wrists does not improve grip strength". Quarterbacks, running backs and receivers would be the most likely players on the field to tape their fingers in the hope of stronger grip.
Some players also believe that taping fingers can absorb some of the blow from catching a hard-thrown ball, according to an entry on MadeMan. Taping can also provide a buffer for linemen who do a lot of pushing in the trenches. Taping can take the place of gloves for some players.
The PhysioAdvisor website recommends that players use adhesive, non-stretch sports tape if they are trying to restrict undesired motion. The best size, according to the website, is 12.5 mm or 25 mm, but 38 mm can also be used, though players might want to cut it and make it somewhat smaller. The site also recommends that before taping athletes should always use a hypoallergenic tape as an underlay.