Why Do Basketball Coaches Wear Suits – Full Answer [2023]

Are you an avid basketball fan? If you’ve been keen, then you might have seen most coaches rocking in suits while on the sidelines. Does it really matter what they’re wearing? The answer is yes!

So, why do basketball coaches wear suits?

Basketball coaches wear suits because they’re a part of coaching culture and tradition. It’s not just about looking good or dressing up for the occasion. Coaches are expected to be dressed properly when they step out on the court. This is true even if they’re playing against their friends. They must look professional and presentable at all times.

Coaching is a profession that requires a lot of hard work and dedication. In order to get ahead, coaches need to dress well. A coach needs to be able to represent his team with pride.

He should always be ready to give 100% during practice sessions and games. Therefore, he needs to be prepared before stepping out on the court.

Read ahead to learn why coaches dress in suits!


Does The National Basketball Coaches Association Dictate Coaches Attire?

The NBCA requires coaches to be properly attired and groomed at all times to reflect their role as professionals in the game of basketball but does not specify what that means.

Coaches are required to dress appropriately, and suits have been worn by many of the top NBA head coaches for decades.

The suit is a symbol of professionalism and authority. It can also be used to protect against the elements.

NBA Coaches often wear suits when they travel with their teams and television broadcasts. They may also wear them during press conferences or interviews.

NBCA takes seriously what coaches wear and even partners with men’s wearhouses like Hugo Boss to promote suit sales.

NBCA has a strict code of conduct for the coaches, which helps keep the sport clean and professional.

Can NBA Coaches Change Their Dressing Code?

NBA coaches’ dressing code is more of a tradition that has evolved. It’s hard to imagine any coach wearing anything other than a suit while coaching. Long ago in the early 1900s, suits were not common.

In the 1920s, suits became popular among college coaches. As the sport’s popularity grew, so did the number of coaches who wore suits. By the 1940s, most coaches wore suits.

Basketball team and their couch standing in basketball court

The habit has become a culture, and that’s why most NBA coaches wear suits on the touchlines today.

Coaches may change their dress style depending on the occasion and even circumstances.

For instance, the NBCA relaxed their strict coaching attire rules, making suits and suit jackets options for the season 2021-22 but wearing masks was never an option but mandatory for the coaches during the pandemic.

Top Reasons Basketball Coaches Wear Suits

You may wonder what’s the obsession with coaches dressing in suits.  Well, the habit didn’t begin recently. Most coaches started wearing suits around the 1930s.

In fact, the book “Unto A Good Land: A History of American People” reveals that the origins of basketball date back to 1891, when James Naismith invented the game.

His chill look in a suit summarizes it all as to why suits have an important place in basketball. Naismith’s habit of putting on suits on every game is what we see with many coaches today.

One NBA coach who always worn suits for the entire season was Phil Jackson. All his collections came from famous men’s wear houses.

He believed that suits were a form of authority, and because he was coaching young players, he could assert authority when dressed professionally.

 Other reasons why coaches put on suits include:

  • During outdoor games, it protects you from the elements. Suits are made to withstand weather conditions. Therefore, coaches may protect themselves from the heat or cold.
  • Suits are comfortable. Many coaches say they feel more comfortable in a suit than in shorts. This is why some coaches prefer to wear suits even if it’s hot outside.
  • Suits make coaches look better. Some coaches believe that wearing a suit makes them look smarter and therefore more authoritative. When on the touchline, coaches should always look smart and well-groomed.
  • Suits make coaches look like a pro. A coach’s job is to lead your team.  When coaches dress in suits, they appear more professional and less like fans.
  • Suits help coaches get noticed. When coaches wear suits, they stand out from the crowd. This is one reason why coaches choose to wear suits.
  • Suits give coaches a sense of authority. The fact that coaches wear suits gives them a feeling of authority. With authority comes respect, and this is exactly what coaches want.

Other than the reasons above, coaches clad suits to show respect to fans. NBA commissioner David Stern always emphasized that good attire makes basketball players and coaching staff look less gangster and more professional in their business attire.

So suits became more or less the regular outfit for coaches, just like jerseys are the regular outfit for players.

Do Women Basketball Coaches Also Wear Suits?

Baylor Kim Mulkey’s orange suit with heels on the touchline is something to behold. She has been known to wear suits since she took over at Baylor University.

However, she doesn’t wear suits often because she believes she looks better in her casual clothes.

In fact, she once said that she prefers to wear jeans and sneakers. In addition, she has admitted that she loves dressing up but only when she goes out with friends.

This is just one example of a women’s basketball coach cladding in a suit. Other female nba coaches don’t put on suits. Instead, they dress shirts.

However, it may not be common for female nba coaches to wear suits. Suits may become part of the formal attire for female coaches. However, there are no official guidelines yet.

Other Sports And What They Wear

Apart from basketball, other sports like soccer also have their traditions. Most soccer coaches clad suits on the touchline to look professional, just like what we see with NBA coaches.

Discussion between a soccer coach and a player

NFL coaches don in polo shirts. In the early 60s, most football coaches wore suits and jackets but recently, things have changed. With more interest in football, we are set to seen more NFL coaches wear casual.

Baseball managers wear short sleeves shirts. Most of them dress in the same uniforms as the players. Hockey coaches usually wear long-sleeved shirts, while tennis coaches usually wear polos. 

Coaches feel like polos are more suitable for outdoor activities. They also feel that polos are more practical than button-downs. Something that makes a coach feel comfortable during an outdoor activity is comfort.

What makes basketball different is the strict code of dressing that applies to coaches. As mentioned earlier, coaches must dress suits at all times.

This means that the code of dressing should be followed as stipulated in the rules.

Can Coaches Wear Anything Else Apart From Suits?

You may be wondering whether coaches can change from wearing suits to casual clothing. Yes, they can. However, certain guidelines apply to coaches.

These guidelines were laid down by the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Coaches must dress decently during game time. They cannot wear shorts, tank tops, or any form of revealing clothing. Coaches must also dress properly for the occasion.

For example, coaches must wear ties during press conferences.

They must not wear hats. Hats are only allowed for referees and officials. Wearing hats may distract the referee’s concentration.

However, coaches can wear anything outside the official coaching hours. For example, coaches can wear pants, t-shirts, hoodies, etc., after the game ends. 

Watch the video below for more details.

Is NBA Relaxing Attires Rules?

There have been discussions about the sidelines attire by the National Basketball Coaches Association. These discussions are ongoing. The association wants to make sure that coaches are dressed appropriately.

The association wants coaches to follow the same codes of dressing as players. They want coaches to dress professionally. However, they also want them to be comfortable.

During the 2020-21 season, NBCA relaxed the coaching attire rules, which is why we saw most coaches and coaching staff dressed in jackets and polo shirt outfits.

Basketball coach pointing at something with his finger

Carlisle, the former coach at Dallas Mavericks felt that a change is needed to help coaches stay focused and concentrate better.

He believes that coaches need to focus on the game instead of worrying about their appearance.

According to him, most coaches and coaching staff travel a lot, and that’s why he suggests the simplest solution to help head coaches and assistants feel comfortable.

However, while sharing his recommendations, Rick Carlisle still acknowledged that he is a fan of suits and that it makes everyone look professional.

From his point of view, we can see that the NBA has made some changes to the coaching attire rule. It seems like the league is trying to make things easier for coaches and their teams.

This is because coaches and their team members will no longer have to worry about what kind of clothes they should wear. They just need to put on a suit or casual and go out.

Is It The End Of Suits In Coaching?

With the new NBCA rules, it may seem like coaches are free to choose whatever they want to wear. But this is not exactly true. Professionalism is key, and coaches must always maintain professionalism.

The slight changes may not mean that it is the end of suits on the touchline. In fact, most coaches have a culture of wearing suits, and changing into something more casual may affect their performance.

Suits are also a tradition in basketball and have been there for some time now. Even though the NBA has relaxed its rules, it does not mean that suits are going away anytime soon.

In fact, most coaches believe that suits are important when you are working with young people. Suits help coaches to project authority and confidence.

It is hard to say whether the NBA will continue to relax its coaching attire rules. We will have to wait and watch if the league continues to relax its rules.

If the league decides to keep its current rules, suits will remain a part of coaching. 

Do Basketball Players Have A Dress Code In NBA?

Have you ever seen how NBA players dress up before playing basketball? Do they clad suits or casuals?

Well, David Stern, the former NBA commissioner didn’t want basketball reputation to suffer from a bad image.

Mostly, basketball players used to listen to hip-hop, and hip-hop had a bad reputation. So, he decided to set up a dress code for players.

Players who play in the NBA must follow certain guidelines. Players who don’t participate in the game are expected to wear suits during games for obvious reasons.

This is to ensure that all players appear to be equal and professional.

Moreover, the dress code rule created in October 2005 stated that all players have to maintain a business attire when not participating in games.

That means that they have to wear clothes that make them look professional when they attend games and other official NBA events

Players are also required to wear shirts and ties at press conferences. If a player is injured, he must dress like a coach on the bench.

So, basketball players’ dress code is strict just like the NBA coaches dress code. This means that players must ensure that they follow the laid down rules to maintain professionalism and enhance the basketball name.

What Do High School Basketball Coaches Wear?

Well, high school basketball coaches are required to have a uniform. This is for safety reasons and because it helps the team stay organized. That applies for all seasons, including during winter.

Usually, coaches do not dress suits; instead, they dress in polos with the team name. The casual look is a great way for coaches to show off their personalities while still being professional.

Other coaches opt to wearing sweats or sweatshirts that match their teams’ colors. Some of them even go as far as wearing shorts on game day!

However, coaches are explicitly prohibited from wearing any type of clothing that could be considered distracting.

Basketball match in process

Can Coaches Change The Rules On Wearing Suits In Basketball?

The NBA has an NBA coaches dress code. The league itself formulates all the rules and regulations regarding what they need to wear, but the dress code rule can be changed if enough people are against it.

In the past, there have been many controversies about whether or not coaches should be allowed to clad suits.

The debate has seen a few changes over time and some controversy when certain teams were fined because of their coach’s attire. Some argue that coaches shouldn’t put on suits, while others say they should.

So, a coach may not change the nba coaches dress code as it is a strict rule set by the NBA. However, he could make his own decision on how to dress.

He could wear a suit or even something else. But he must follow the guidelines set by the NBA.

Is It A Must For Basketball Coaches To Wear A Tie?

No, coaches may choose when to wear ties. For example, when doing press conferences, most coaches wear ties.

Also, a head coach on the touchline may wear a tie to look better in a suit. Ties match well with suits making the wearers look sharp.


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