What is a Sports Towel?

Colored sports towels.
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  • Written By: Matthew F.
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 March 2014
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One of the most important types of towels and pieces of equipment for an athlete is the sports towel. Often no more than a simple hand towel or workout towel, it serves many different purposes for many different athletes. With various uses across various different sports, the towel is an essential in nearly any sports bag. Whether for wiping sweat, mud, or other equipment, it is a simple piece that can make the difference to an athlete.

In many sports, a sports towel can simply be used as an accessory in the gym bag. It can wipe sweat from the face and forehead during practice, workouts, and games. Towels are often found draped over the legs of NBA players on the bench to keep their upper legs warm and loose. These towels can be used to wipe the sweat from wet hands, or to allow for a dry grip on a slippery ball in football or basketball.

In the gym, the sports towel, also known as a fitness towel or workout towel, is used to keep the weightlifter and the equipment clean and dry. The sweat that accumulates on the athlete often transfers to weight handles, head rests, benches and seats. The towels are then used to keep the gym clear of sweat for the next user. Thrown in the gym bag, the towel is simply washed and brought back to the gym for next time.


In sports like tennis, the towel is utilized during timeouts, again to keep the face dry and the handles of equipment usable. In golf, the towel is often used to wipe down equipment. A detriment to any golfer, the water, sand, and mud that accumulates on balls and clubs can be extracted with a sports towel. This is often clipped onto the front of the golf bag for ease of use and reliability. In bowling, the sports towel is used to clear the oil from the ball. It can often be seen used with two hands, with the ball raised on the towel, sliding back and forth.

While most often kept in the gym bag or on the bench, the sports towel can be worn on the jersey, as is done by many quarterbacks in the NFL. It can also be used by officials to keep the floor dry, as is common in the NBA. Also, after workouts or playing sports, the sports towel can be transported to the locker room for a shower, depending on its size. It can also be moved to the pool to dry off after a swim.


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