AskDefine | Define jockstrap

Dictionary Definition

jockstrap n : a support for the genitals worn by men engaging in strenuous exercise [syn: athletic supporter, supporter, suspensor, jock]

User Contributed Dictionary



Disputed / unknown? See talk page.


  1. an athletic support worn by men to support the genitals during strenuous exercise


Extensive Definition

A jockstrap (also known as a jock, jock strap, strap, supporter, or athletic supporter) is an undergarment designed for supporting the male genitalia during the performance of sports or other vigorous physical activity. A typical jockstrap consists of an elastic waistband with a support pouch for the genitalia and two elastic straps affixed to the base of the pouch and to the left and right sides of the waistband at the hip. The pouch, in some varieties, may be fitted with a pocket to hold an impact resistant cup to protect the testicles and/or the penis from injury. The jockstrap may serve as a cache-sexe.


The word jockstrap has purportedly been in use since 1897 and ultimately traces its origin from jock in the slang sense of penis.
The Bike Jockey Strap was the first jockstrap manufactured in America circa 1874. It is likely the word jockstrap is a contraction of 'jockey strap', with 'jockey' meaning 'rider', and, specifically in this case, a bicycle rider. Jockey meaning (race horse) rider has been in use since 1670.
Jockey itself is the diminutive form of the Scots nickname Jock (for John) as Jackie is for the English nickname Jack. The nicknames Jack and Jackie, Jock and Jockey have been used generically for 'man, fellow, boy, common man'. From the period c.1650-c.1850, jock has been used as slang for 'penis'. In a similar fashion, the nickname Dick (for Richard) is also slang for 'penis'.


The precursor of the jockstrap was a rubberized cotton canvas girdle worn for the sake of modesty by men and boys beneath their worsted wool bathing suits on public beaches during the 1860s. As public sporting events grew in popularity, athletes began to wear the rubberized canvas girdle under their tights and uniforms, in order to avoid charges of corrupting public morals with displays of their covered but uncontained genitalia. In 1867, a Chicago sports team refused to take the field wearing "modesty" girdles and forfeited the competition. A riot ensued; in a newspaper story about the event, a Dr. Lamb was quoted as "having recognized a medical benefit to males by the wearing of a protective girdle."
In the 1870s, the Boston Athletic Club sought an undergarment that would provide comfort and support for cyclists (or, bicycle jockeys as they were then known) riding the cobblestone streets of Boston. Traditional undergarments were uncomfortable and the rubberized canvas "modesty" girdle caused chafing and blistering on bicycle seats. What the Boston Athletic Club wanted was a comfortable garment that would accommodate the movements of the bicyclist yet would contain and control the male genitalia in the manner of the rubberized canvas girdle.
In 1874, Charles Bennett of the Chicago sporting goods company, Sharp & Smith, invented the jockstrap. The original name of Bennett's invention was the Bike Jockey Strap and its logo, a large bicycle wheel. The jockey strap was intended, first, for bicycle jockeys, and secondly, for horseback riders. The "bike jockey strap" became known as a "jock strap" and, eventually, simply a "jock".
Bennett's newly-formed Bike Web Company patented and began mass-producing the Bike Jockey Strap. The Bike Web Company later became known as the Bike Company. The first consumer mass marketing of the jockstrap occurred in the 1902 edition of the Sears and Roebuck Catalog which claimed the garment, now termed an "athletic supporter" was "medically indicated" for all males that engaged in sports or strenuous activity.
In the early 1900s, the jockstrap influenced the invention of the Heidelberg Electric Belt, a low-voltage electric powered supporter that claimed to cure kidney disorders, insomnia, erectile disfunction, and other ailments. Jockstraps are medically used today to facilitate recovery from injuries and surgeries such as hematocele, hydrocele or spermatocele.
During the 1980s and 1990s, jockstraps were generally no longer mandatory in high school and college sports and gave way to compression shorts. In the early years of the 21st century, however, Calvin Klein, Under Armour, and other manufacturers introduced their own lines of jockstraps and renewed interest in the original garment. An abundance of fashion jockstraps are currently marketed as an alternative to regular underwear.
Jockstraps have become commonplace in modern American popular culture and are no longer taboo or a source of embarassment. "Knock their jocks off!" is a phrase used openly by American football coaches and fans of both genders to motivate football players while jockstraps of celebrity athletes have become sports collectibles. In 2007, Baseball player Ken Griffey, Jr. gathered media attention when he tossed his jockstrap to a heckling fan. For many years, high school and college locker room pranks involve filling jockstrap pouches with irritating substances like novelty shop itching powders. Jockstrap swiping from lockers and gym bags is also a frequent prank. Hazing rituals at schools occasionally involve jockstraps. In November 2005, Bike made its 350,000,000th jockstrap. The jockstrap was taken off the assembly line, framed, and flown to Bike's Atlanta headquarters. Jockstraps as costumes or props have been seen on-screen in mainstream motion pictures including All the Right Moves, Any Given Sunday, North Dallas Forty and Youngblood.

Jockstrap styles

Jockstraps are fairly consistent in design (waistband, pouch, leg straps) with variations appearing in details like width of waistband and fabrics. Some jockstraps are designed for specific sports. Hockey jocks, for example, have adjustable elastic straps and garter clips that hold hockey socks in place while the bulky goalie protector has genital and abdominal foam padding. Windproof jockstraps have a special layer of fabric over the genitalia that protects the wearer from wind and cold in winter sports. Some manufacturers create "fashion jocks" made of exotic fabrics such as leather or chain mail that appeal to practicioners of sexual role playing.
Cups offer protection to the genitalia. Typically made of hard plastic and perforated for ventilation, a cup is inserted into a pocket on the pouch. Some cups though are simply a soft pad designed for low impact sports. Some cups have a waistband and straps attached directly to the cup designed to be worn over a regular jockstrap or briefs and are common in kickboxing and martial arts. An oversized cup and jock combined into a single item which has layered foam padding that protects the groin, kidneys and abdomen is used in boxing and Muay Thai. Similar to the "Combined padded jock and cup", the flex cup combines the hard and soft cup. It features a hard cup melded into a soft cup. A Solid steel cup is often used for combat sports (i.e. Mixed Martial Arts, Kick Boxing and Muay Thai).
Related items include the jock brief, or support briefs, which, having a full seat resemble normal briefs but have a wider, stronger waistband and are made of a more supportive material. A thong style jockstrap (sometimes called a "dance belt") has only one strap attached to the bottom of the pouch, passing under the crotch, up between the buttocks and attaching to the waistband at the middle of the back. Compression shorts have a full or partial jockstrap sewn into the inside. They provide pockets for a cup and, in the case of the football variety, provide pockets for thigh and backbone pads. The strapless variation to the jock, called a sock, has an elastic pouch that hooks behind the scrotum instead of being held in place by the normal leg straps. Suspensories are similar to the jockstrap with one main exception; above the pouch that holds the testicles is a hole to put the penis through so that it hangs free from the constriction of the pouch. The suspensory is typically used after surgery to the groin or other mediacal reason. Enhanced jockstraps are a basic jockstrap with the addition of either a padding in the pouch area, or may have fabric "C" ring sewn in to lift and bring forward the penis and testicles.

How it is Worn

The most common way a jockstrap is worn is to put it on immediately over the skin, as the bottom layer.
The cup can either be inserted before or after the jockstrap is put on such that the rim of the cup firmly comes in contact with the pubic bone without resting on the genitals; otherwise the wearer would be put at risk for impact injuries. Because they absorb less moisture than regular underwear, jockstraps are also worn in place of regular underwear during hiking, camping, or other outdoor activities to provide cooling. Jockstraps can also help prevent scrotal chafing and impact while hiking long distances, because the scrotum is lifted away from the thighs. Since most jocks are a cotton, polyester, or spandex blend, they can easily be washed and hung to dry quickly each night. Jockstraps can also be worn under undershorts, as a third layer.

Care, replacement and disposal

It is advised that one should always wash and dry jockstraps after every use because they can spread jock itch (tinea cruris) which is caused by fungi such as Trichophyton rubrum and is commonplace in gyms. It is also advisable to take a shower after a workout and towel dry thoroughly. Using a powder or dermatophyte antifungal cream if there is any redness or itching in the groin area is recommended, as is always wearing sandals in showers and never going barefoot. Athletes foot (tinea pedis), caused by the same fungus as jock itch, which is very common in gyms and can be transferred to jockstraps, causing jock itch. The label may provide specific instructions. Usage of a high-fragrance detergent should be avoided because in a damp and hot environment the chemicals from the fragrance can seep into open sores caused by jock itch or chafing and cause more pain and irritation.
Even with proper care, like any other clothing item, jockstraps will wear down and need to be replaced. The construction of a jockstrap will determine its life span. Many older jockstraps were made with natural rubbers and cotton which naturally break down. Newer jockstraps incorporate many synthetic and natural materials that provide a longer lasting consistent product.
jockstrap in German: Suspensorium
jockstrap in Spanish: Suspensorio
jockstrap in French: Suspensoir
jockstrap in Italian: Sospensorio
jockstrap in Dutch: Toque (sport)
jockstrap in Japanese: ジョックストラップ
jockstrap in Norwegian: Suspensorium
jockstrap in Norwegian Nynorsk: Jockstrap
jockstrap in Russian: Защита паха
jockstrap in Swedish: Suspensoar
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