Why Do Football Players Wear Towels?

When watching football you may have found yourself wondering “why do football players wear towels around their waists?”. After all half of these players are wearing gloves while they play.

The main reason players wear these towels is to improve their grip on the ball. Whether it is wet or dirty having a towel allows players to keep a secure grip on the football.

The same goes for players’ hands which can end up wet or muddied based on the elements of the game. For a quarterback to perform his best he is going to want to throw a clean football.

Keeping Your Hands And Ball Dry

The biggest factor of wearing a towel when playing football is keeping your hands and the ball itself dry.

Whether you are wearing gloves or not you do not want the football to be wet. Throwing a football with bare hands when wet is very difficult. Just a bit of water on the ball can affect the trajectory of a quarterback’s throw.

There is not much room for error when throwing the ball so it is not hard to understand why quarterbacks use these towels in order to keep the ball dry.

Additionally, a common misconception from fans is that a wet ball is not an issue when wearing gloves in football. This could not be further from the truth. When the ball or your gloves are quite wet it is nearly impossible to catch or throw a football.

Oftentimes when a ball is this wet players will actually take off their gloves in order to get a better grip. This is why you will notice even players that have gloves will still wear a towel around their waist.

A wet ball is hard for any player to catch regardless of what equipment they are wearing. This is why all ball carriers and skill positions tend to wear towels when they play.

Clean Gloves And Ball

Another reason players wear a towel around their waist when playing football is to keep their gloves and the ball clean.

If the ball is muddy or dirty it can affect a quarterback’s ability to throw the ball. By using a towel a quarterback can ensure the ball is cleaned off before making his next throw.

The cleaning of dirt and mud also applies to players catching the ball. When wearing gloves it is the tackiness of the gloves that allow you to catch the ball. If your hands are covered in dust or dirt you will lose this tackiness.

Losing this tackiness makes your gloves ineffective. This is why you will see wide receivers use their towels to wipe down their gloves if they happen to get dirty throughout the play.

Keeping Gloves Sticky

Another reason football players wear towels is to keep their gloves sticky. In order to “activate” the stickiness of football gloves, you must apply some liquid.

In most cases, this will be a player spitting or pouring some water onto the sticky side of the glove. The liquid must then be rubbed in to allow the gloves to become tacky.

You must be sure to rub all the liquid in, otherwise, the gloves will be wet and slippery making it nearly impossible to catch the ball.

The towel helps with this process as players can simply wipe the excess water off of their gloves.

Football Drip

Drip in football refers to a player’s style on the field. Since all players are wearing the same jersey players must utilize accessories in order to step up their style.

Towels are a common way for a football player to improve his drip. For the most part football players wear towels in order to help them in the game. But the added benefit of having more drip on the field is not lost on the players.

What positions Wear Towels In Football

When watching a game of football you may have noticed that though many players wear towels not all of them do. The reason for this is because only certain positions need to use these towels in order to play their best.

Here are the positions which most often wear a towel in football.


Quarterback is the most common position to wear a towel in football. The reason for this is because they are throwing or handing off the ball every offensive play.

In order to get a secure grip on the ball, these players use towels to keep it dry and clean.

Running Back

Running back is another position that is known for using towels. This position is handed the ball and also catches the ball on some plays. Both of these actions require the running back to securely hold the ball in their hands.

Additionally, defenders are constantly trying to pry the football out of the running backs hands. Having dry hands and a clean ball makes it easier to keep the ball secured.

Wide Receiver

Wide receivers are another position known for wearing towels. Receivers are players responsible for catching the majority of passes from the quarterback.

These players need to keep their gloves dry and clean throughout the game. This is why you will notice almost every wide receiver will wear a towel when playing football.

why do football players wear towels in the back?

One thing you may notice when watching NFL players is that the towels are almost always hanging off the back of their football pants.

The reason players do not have the towel in the front is that it can affect their ability to run and catch the ball.

The towels worn by football players are quite long. When a player is running the towel be too close to their legs and may affect their stride.

Offensive players will also keep the towel in the back to avoid interference with the ball.

When the ball is thrown towards a player they may have to reach low towards to turf to collect it. With a towel hanging down from their waist they may find it will interfere with their ability to catch the ball.

Players will never catch a ball that targets them from the back. This makes it the logical place to hang your towel.


I hope you enjoyed our guide on why NFL players wear towels.

Remember football players wear towels to keep their hands dry and free of dirt. Having clean hands can be crucial to performing at their top level.

If you want to learn more about football see our guides on why football players wear underwear or why they tape their arms. If you want to learn more about equipment see our article on bicep bands.

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