A jockstrap is an undergarment for protecting genitalia during any contact sports. For women, the undergarment is known as jill string. A jockstrap/ jill string consists of an elastic waistband and a support pouch for the genitalia. Two elastic straps are attached to the base of the support pouch and extended to the left and the right line till the hip portion. The support pouch may be in the form of a pocket to hold an abdominal guard to give better protection.
C. F. Bennett invented the jockstrap in 1874 for a Chicago sporting company, Sharp & Smith. They were made for providing support and comfort for the bicycle jockeys riding the cobblestone streets. By 1897, Bike Web Company under Bennett patented the Bike Jockey Strap and started mass production. Until 2003, the Bike Company was the only company to produce jockstraps. Later that year, the Bike Company was acquired by Russell Athletic. Russell Athletic produced jockstraps until 2017 until they entered into a partnership with Berkshire Hathaway.
Today, jockstraps are worn mainly by adult men and women for contact sports and weightlifting.
The jockstrap has a consistent design, but there are variations in details like the width of the waistband or design or fabric. Jockstraps are designed as per respective sports like swim jocks, bicycle, polo, etc. Some jockstraps come in a narrow waistband shape or have adjustable elastic straps attached to garter clips which keeps hockey socks in place. Some customised jockstraps with bulky goalie protector have abdominal and genitalia foam padding. Windproof jockstraps come with a particular layer of fabric to safeguard the wearer from wind and cold during winter sports. Jockstraps are also made in other materials as fetish wear.
Jockstraps also come in jock brief or support briefs having a wide waistband combined with a full seat. These are made of elastic supportive material. Another is a thong-style strap, known as a dance belt. This comes in a narrow elastic strap joined to the bottom of the jockstrap, passing through the middle of the legs and further attaching to the waistband at the back.
Cups offer additional protection of the private parts for contact sports. They are made of hard plastic or steel and are perforated for ventilation. Cups come in soft, flexible, and comfortable type for low contact sports. They also come in the soft lining and hard exterior. Protective cups in cricket are called as a box. They are worn by batsmen, wicket-keeper, and close-up fielders.
Some jockstraps come with a lined front pouch for letting the protective cup adjust properly. In this, the abdominal guard is made from high-density plastic and moulded in a shape of half pear with padded edges, inserted into the jockstrap-style underwear of the wicket-keeper and the batsmen. Sometimes cricketers use athletic cups.
Pelvic protectors come for female genitalia; however, they are less widespread.
In martial arts and kickboxing, jockstraps have a protective cup directly attached to the clothing and worn as a regular brief. Some sports like boxing use an oversized cup and jock combined into a single item with layered foam padding to safeguard the groin, abdomen, and kidneys.