Track uniforms vary depending on the event, with sprinters often wearing form-fitting clothing and non-speed events having less stringent requirements. Lightweight and breathable materials are standard for outdoor events. Shoes are important, with spikes varying in length and tailored weights for specific events. Uniforms range in style and price, with customization options for teams and sponsors.
Many types of track uniforms are available for track and field athletes. Uniform requirements often depend on the specific track and field event. Athletes, such as sprinters, who compete in speed-based events can be outfitted in streamlined, form-fitting clothing. Participants in non-speed events may have less stringent uniform requirements, but in general, lightweight, breathable materials come standard in track uniforms.
Most track events are held outdoors, often in warm weather. These conditions make comfortable and lightweight uniforms a must for athletes to help wick away sweat and prevent the athlete from overheating. The simplest track attire includes lightweight shorts and a sleeveless jersey. For track athletes performing in more than one event, these standard uniforms offer versatility.
Sprinters or other runners may opt for a different uniform than a basic track outfit. Some runners wear a tank top, a close-fitting, one-piece uniform that reduces wind resistance while running. Runners may choose to wear shorts, similar to underwear, to prevent any inhibition of leg movement. A variety of tops are available for runners, from fitted sleeveless tops to midriff tops for women. Deciding between these options may come down to personal or team preference rather than strong evidence for improved performance.
Shoes are one of the most important components of track uniforms. Shoe spikes are available in various lengths for runners, and choosing a spike length depends on the type of surface the runner will be racing on. Sprinters generally prefer shoes that are light and thin, as a high amount of cushioning and stability in the shoe are often not needed for running short distances. Sports such as pole vaulting and long jump require special shoes with tailored weights and spikes to provide maximum performance in these events. Shoes for javelin throwers include more ankle support, to prevent injury to the thrower when he suddenly stops moving after throwing the javelin.
Like most sports equipment, track uniforms vary widely in style and price. Smaller high schools can only afford a basic jersey and T-shirt combination for athletes, while pro racers can choose uniforms in the most aerodynamic and high-tech materials available. Most track uniforms include some form of customization for the team, such as color, team logo, or a name and number on the back of each team member’s jersey. Professional athletes’ uniforms often feature their sponsors’ names or logos. Track uniforms are produced by a wide variety of companies, from large sportswear manufacturers to small local shops.