The emergence of compression gear has been hyped up a lot of late. Seemingly every professional footballer feels the added bonus that compression gear supposedly offers, and it is even beginning to spread to amateur leagues as the equipment market starts to become more and more popular with the ordinary player. Dubbed as some of the most essential pieces of football kit in the game – the Adidas Techfit Powerweb and Skins A400 range have a lot to live up to.
For this comparison, I will be focusing on the comfort and fit, as well as arguing whether compression gear actually DOES have an effect on your game. It is impossible to tell whether there is a noticeable difference in sprinting times or anything of the sort, but one thing that has come to prominence in compression gear of late is the recovery and injury prevention aspects that they supposedly offer, as I will detail below.
The comfort of a base-layer is hugely important. You don’t want to be constantly sorting your base-layer top out while running around, and so a comfortable fit is vitally important. Below, I will detail the positives and negatives of both releases.
First of all. When you wear both base-layers (Skins and adidas), you won’t notice you have them on. This immediately suggests to me that both companies have got the comfort just right. They both caress and protect your muscles at the same time, and at no time will you be hindered by them.
The materials used in both base-layers are very nice. They will not chafe your legs, and the material used means you won’t sweat much either. Sweat in itself often leads to chafing, and this is a blessing in itself. Both releases are designed to keep you cool during the summer months. Do they work? It’s hard to tell whether they do, but I’d say the Skins A400 range just pip the adidas Techfit Powerweb in this regard. Because of the nature of the compression bands and how it fits, sweat tended to collect in certain areas, and not in others. It was definitely an unusual experience.
However (and this is a big however), I experienced soreness in quite an unpleasant place with the adidas Techfit Powerweb garments. Generally, this happened when I did mainly sprinting, which doesn’t make much sense to me. I wore them as directed, and it’s a shame because adidas’ creation is a fantastic piece of innovation, but this is a let down really. I can’t really explain it either, there appears to be no real explanation of why it happened.
Winner: The Skins range, purely because I encountered zero chafing and soreness while wearing them.
Before I start comparing the fit of the two brands, what you have to consider with the fit, is that they are designed to compress your muscles. This means that both brands are going to fit very tight. Therefore, these may not be the most appropriate piece of clothing for bulky individuals.
With the adidas Techfit Powerweb garments, you will feel more of a squeeze in certain areas than others. For example, in the undershorts, there is a very specific tightness around the hamstrings, and less around the knee. In comparison, the undertop compresses your shoulders and back, immediately pulling your shoulders back and improving your posture. Personally, I didn’t find the under-top comfortable at all, but the shorts are fantastic.
In comparison, the Skins A400 range is slightly more forgiving. The shorts in particular, triumph the Powerweb shorts purely because they are more forgiving. They have an iPod pouch along the inside seam and it’s this little attention to detail that just makes them seem more of a complete package. The top is however, VERY tight. It truly is a compression top. Yet,fit wise, it’s fantastic. When you get out playing, you don’t notice you have it on. This for me, indicates it is a very top notch piece of football equipment.
Winner: Skins (by some distance)
Does the compression aspect work?
Now this, for me, is the most controversial aspect by far. Both ranges claim that their base-layers will enhance performance.
“The A400 Skins range features the revolutionary SKINS gradient compression which has been engineered to provide the correct level of surface pressure to specific parts of the body enhancing blood circulation to get more vital oxygen to your active muscles – boosting your power, speed and stamina.
Improved blood circulation also helps to eliminate lactic acid build up and other metabolic wastes during an intense workout. The result? You go harder, for longer and recover faster.”
“adidas Techfit long tights benefit from trademark adidas Techfit Powerweb technology, giving the shorts a combination of high compression fabric and elastic power bands. The powerband element of the Techfit tights enhances your core strength, improves your body posture, making for greater accuracy and control of movement.”
Is there any substance to these claims? Post-match, most definitely. Lactic acid is prone to develop in your muscles after exercise, as explained in my Post-match recovery guide. And of course, it will also develop in game too. Players will still be able to play for 90 minutes regardless of whether they are wearing compression gear if they are fit enough. So it is hard to see whether it would have a significant enough effect in game without scientific tests, and unfortunately, we are not scientists at SoccerReviews. So basically, wearing compression gear post-match is recommended, but in game, it is most definitely not a necessity.
As adidas claim; “The powerband element of the Techfit tights enhances your core strength, improves your body posture”, I find this is the most agreeable quote from their description. While wearing the adidas Techfit Powerweb garments, you feel like you are better positioned, it helps prevent your body from hunching over when tired, and this most certainly will help with technique. But may I just add, that unless you have the technique in the first place, you won’t become a better player because of these base-layers. In this regard, you could well argue that this will also improve your sprinting, as your technique should theoretically be better. But the difference will be negligible anyway.
However, the least debatable aspect of the compression gear argument, is the prevention of injuries. Your legs feel more secure, more protected, during use. While I do not have any scientific proof that compression base-layers do help reduce muscular injuries, it has been a popular trend with professional physiotherapists of late. I can also testify that writers on SoccerReviews swear by wearing compression gear to support their muscles. So in this regard, both releases get a big thumbs up.
Winner: The Adidas Techfit Powerweb range most certainly provide the securer fit, compared to the Skins’ range. Therefore, there can only be one winner in this section.
In conclusion, both releases are excellent. However, you have to consider two things. Both releases will offer compression benefits, although the adidas range tops the Skins range in this regard. But, the Skins’ range beats the adidas range in terms of comfort and fit. Depending on which one is more beneficial to you, you have to choose accordingly. Both ranges are undoubtedly worth the money, there is no question of that. Both are hugely influential in post-match recovery, and I can assure you that 9 out of 10 professional footballers swear by compression gear.
You can buy both Adidas Techfit Powerweb and Skins A400 base-layers at Soccer.com.