Last updated: August 17, 2021

The product is the simplest and most effective solution to the traditional problems of team sports. With a set of waistcoats in hand, you and your team won't need to play "married versus single", shirt versus shirtless, or match the colour of the shirt before the game, whatever the sport. In this Guide, you will find complete and useful information so that you can choose the ideal sports waistcoat. We will list the best models on the market, the pros and cons, varieties and even selection criteria to use when buying.

First of all, the most important things

  • Knowing which sport(s) you will be doing helps you choose the right model. Each activity has a different physical demand, which impacts the suitability of the product.
  • The cut of the waistcoat and its elasticity - whether in the fabric or in the fit - will dictate the model's range in relation to the size of its users and the sport practised.
  • Its unit price is around 10, hardly above 30, while a set can be found between 50 and 250. The brand and the material are preponderant for these variations.

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Buying Guide

The reason waistcoats dominate sporting events at a wide range of organisational levels, from school championships to university tournaments to professional training, is simple: they are the fastest and most practical solution to the basic problems of team sports. In this Buying Guide, we will talk about these problems, as well as the product itself, its advantages, disadvantages, its price and its varieties. With this information, we hope you will find the model that best suits your sporting practice.

Imagem mostra cinco jogadoras de futebol durante uma atividade de treinamento. Três usam um colete claro, uma usa um colete escuro e a jogadora com a bola nos pés, apenas uma camiseta.

The sports waistcoat enables organisation for different levels of organisation of sporting events and practices. (Source: Jeffrey F. Lin / Unsplash)

What is a sports waistcoat?

The basic definition of a waistcoat covers any sleeveless piece of clothing that runs only across the chest and abdomen, the torso of our bodies, in other words. The sports waistcoat, therefore, is this type of accessory, only adapted for the practice of physical activity. Its main purpose is to differentiate in a practical way between members of different teams and groups within a sport. This differentiation is made primarily by the colour of the waistcoat fabric, and sometimes combined with numbering and even with names on the back, in specific cases. Their adaptation, on the other hand, is in the material and the cut of the fabric. The former is much lighter compared to the casual style ones - wool, tactel, etc. Almost all today's models also have spaced, "breathable" meshes, to facilitate the inevitable perspiration during an athletic effort. The cut follows the same line, with the fit always favouring the flexibility of the fabric and the total freedom of movement of its wearer, while at the same time being tight to the body. They are usually worn over the wearer's clothes and must therefore be lightweight. They are widely used in sporting events, such as school and university tournaments - institutional, in short - and also in training for sports teams and clubs. They are used regardless of the sport: football, basketball, handball, etc., all need to identify their opponents in an organized manner. Even so, there is an ideal cut for each sport, suitable for the different body movements they require. In football, for example, the waistcoats should be above the waist, to give more freedom to the legs, and should not swing too much, so as not to hinder the view of the ground and consequently of the ball. In basketball, the sides should be free, to give more freedom to the arms; in handball, they also need more space on the sides, besides being tighter, to make it harder to pull them when throwing.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a sports jacket?

The first advantage of a sports jacket is the most obvious, which is the organization it promotes, differentiating teams and groups through the ease with which they are thrown. Its practicality is another great advantage. Lightweight and open, they are easy to wear, over other clothes or under a top or even over the bare chest. They are also very easy to carry, handle, wash and, of course, dry. Then, even though there is a cut that is ideal for some specific sports, the versatility of the sports waistcoat is enormous, and it can be used for a variety of activities, from games to competitions, from sports to playful exercises - it can even be used to organise events.

Imagem mostra um treinamento de hóquei na grama. Dois adversários, disputando a bola, usam coletes de cores diferentes, um claro e outro escuro.

The sports waistcoat is versatile both in the type of event and the type of sport played. (Source: Jeffrey F. Lin / Unsplash)

On the other hand, your set needs to be quite numerous to be efficient and durable, which is a disadvantage. Just to cater for the participants in a field football match, for example, there are 22, to be just among the starters. This is because their sharing is somewhat inconvenient, which is another disadvantage in itself. Although light and breathable, the sports waistcoat accumulates a lot of sweat, which leaves it heavier and with a strong smell, which can bother some of its users. There is also the issue of its useful life, which is short, despite the best care. After all, it is a product constantly exposed to sweat and successively washed.

  • Offers better organization
  • Practicality
  • Versatility
  • Needs many units
  • Sharing is inconvenient
  • Shorter useful life

When to use a numbered waistcoat?

Being a fabric, the sports waistcoat is, like uniforms, suitable for prints and numbering and subject to personalisation, with names, logos and other special characters. But how far is this development recommended? Part of the practicality of the product lies in the fact that it can be worn by different people, of different sizes and for different purposes.

Imagem mostra meninos jogando futebol com colete esportivo.

The sports waistcoat without a number is more versatile. (Source: Iordache Elena Gabriela / 123rf)

This is why a possible numbering of the models should be considered, especially in relation to the event organised and the sport practised. Official championships, with a closed number of participants, organized groups, and with refereeing, cheering and even broadcasting, can benefit a lot from the numbering. In more relaxed events, without a certain number of participants or with rotating groups, especially involving children, numbering is practically unnecessary, and may even cause confusion. Numbering also ends up requiring that all units of both sets are numbered as well, which increases the cost and decreases the practicality of the product. At the same time, numbered waistcoats can replace uniform shirts and T-shirts, and in that case decrease the cost of the organization.

Smooth Printed
Use Open and relaxed events Serious and closed events
Practicality High Medium

Purchase Criteria: Factors to choose the ideal sports waistcoat

Below, we have put together some aspects of the composition of the sports waistcoat, as well as situations that are characteristic of its use. By following these criteria when buying, you will make the right choice:

  • Sport or event
  • Material
  • Cut
  • Colour

We will now talk about these criteria one by one, so that your final choice is as safe, informed and suitable as possible:

Sport or event

A good way to differentiate the ideal model is to think about the game or event to be organised. The level of seriousness, competitiveness and that of the participants will "dictate" what the waistcoats of your ensemble should look like. More serious competitions, for example, "ask" for numbered waistcoats and the correct size for the age group of confirmed participants. For simpler events with irregular attendance and varying numbers of participants, more versatile models are more advantageous.

Imagem mostra cinco jogadoras de futebol durante um jogo. Elas estão alinhadas, todas usando a mesma cor clara de colete.

The type of practice influences the choice of waistcoat. Training, with a high turnover of groups, calls for "simpler" models. (Source: Jeffrey F. Lin / Unsplash)


The material and its quality are very important choice criteria. They should be the lightest, with the most open, flexible and resistant wefts possible. Polyester is the best choice. Lightness is necessary because it is an accessory worn over other clothing. The opening must be designed to allow perspiration of those who wear the waistcoats. Flexibility is related to the movements as well as to the different sizes of its users. The resistance is for its use and regular washing.


The cut, in turn, must mediate the freedom of movement with the fit in the body. These are two opposing points, yes, and that is why there is a different type of shape for each sport, depending on the need for each of these points. Basketball and handball, as we mentioned, need more freedom of the arms, especially the biceps, and therefore, an almost complete opening in the side. Volleyball needs freedom for the shoulders, and therefore a narrow fit above them. Football needs a certain fit in the body, for visibility from the ground, and freedom for the waist and neck, so a model with a more open collar and high waist is the most suitable; finally, note the cut and shape of your favourite models.

menino jogando futebol com colete esportivo

Analyse the cut of the sports waistcoat so that it is comfortable and efficient. (Source: thevisualsyouneed / 123rf)


As basic as it is, the colour of waistcoats is a criterion to remember. The waistcoat works by differentiating two or more groups from the colours, so opt for the sets with the most different colours possible. Lighter and warmer colours fulfil this role well, such as red, yellow, orange. Avoid close colours and darker tones, like dark blue and black, red and brown, etc. (Featured image source: Jeffrey F. Lin/ Unsplash)