There were decades of Indiana high school basketball — several, actually — in which warm-up uniforms were a program’s first impression.

Twelve players proudly showcasing school colors and perhaps an eye-pleasing design while charging onto the hardwood carried the ability to motivate.

Even intimidate.

But like wristbands, pep clubs and other staples of our hoops yesteryears, warm-up uniforms are becoming increasingly scarce.

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In Johnson County, nine of the 14 varsity programs (seven boys, seven girls) have gradually phased out warm-up pants in recent years. Four programs remain consistent in using the pants; another breaks them out a maximum of two home games per season.

Reasons a program’s players wear what they wear range from price to personal preference.

Today’s players frequently find warm-up pants to be more of an uncomfortable inconvenience than necessary fashion statement.

“Most players only wear them during pregame warm-ups. They take them off once the game starts,” Greenwood boys coach Bruce Hensley said. “I don’t know if they serve much of a purpose other than cosmetic.”

Hensley, a 1973 Greenwood graduate now in his 28th season coaching his alma mater, also points out the early-1990s movement toward longer game shorts made wearing warm-up pants less comfortable.

Should short game shorts make a comeback, then hey, who knows?

Both Whiteland varsity teams eschew warm-up pants in favor of shooting shirts.

Warriors girls coach Kyle Shipp said many of his players felt the pants restricted their movements before games. Furthermore, with roster turnover most every season, ensuring each player had a perfectly fitting pair of warm-up pants became an issue.

Matt Wadsworth, Whiteland’s boys basketball coach, is in a similar situation.

“This season our players said they weren’t interested in wearing the warm-up pants. I don’t think they are really that comfortable to wear,” he said. “We prepare for game day the same way we prepare for practice each day.

“We do the same types of stretches. Our pregame shooting drills are part of our weekly practice routine. But I think players still think the shooting shirts look neat to wear.”

Edinburgh girls coach Amy Schilling likes when Lancers players don the striped warm-up pants.

However, some pairs of pants lost buttons in recent years, reducing the program’s warm-up attire to long-sleeve shooting shirts. Schilling said players typically wore the pants a fraction of the 20 minutes allotted for pregame warm-ups because of how warm they become in them.

“I personally like the pants because I like the look of them. My opinion is that if you look good and feel confident in the uniform, you will carry that over to the game and feel confident in the game,” Schilling said. “We have worked hard as a program in purchasing new uniforms and shooting shirts.

“It isn’t as easy nowadays with the high cost of athletics and the lack of money given to each sport. You really have to raise a lot of money on your own. That is another reason why we did not purchase new pants when the other ones’ buttons broke.”

Shooting shirts are the norm for both programs at Center Grove.

Trojans girls coach Shawn Sanders said players don’t like wearing the current set of warm-up pants. This could change when the next set is purchased before the start of the 2018-19 season.

“We wear a long-sleeve dry-fit top, but mix it up with other T-shirts, long sleeves, etc. The girls have a few options, and I let the captains decide,” Sanders said. “As long as they are united and in the same thing, I’ll let them wear most of the things we issue.”

Franklin’s boys players wear the traditional blue/white candy-stripe pants, though typically the look is short-lived.

“They take them off in just a few minutes because they are hot,” Grizzly Cubs coach Brad Dickey said. “(Players) like them, and actually fight over the best pairs. They just don’t last long. Because they are only used for a few minutes, we have used the same pants for several years.”

Who wears what

Different strokes for different folks — here’s a look at each local basketball team’s preferences when it comes to pregame warm-up outfits:

Center Grove

Girls – Shooting shirts

Boys – Shooting shirts

Edinburgh

Girls – Long-sleeve shooting shirts

Boys – Shooting shirts, with the old pants/tops worn on Senior Night and Homecoming

Franklin

Girls – Shooting shirts

Boys – Blue/white candy stripe pants and shooting shirts

Greenwood

Girls – Shooting shirts

Boys – Shooting shirts

Greenwood Christian Academy

Girls – Shooting shirts

Boys – Pants and shooting shirts

Indian Creek

Girls – Red/white/blue candy-striped pants

Boys – Red/white/blue candy-striped pants and shooting shirts

Whiteland

Girls – Shooting shirts

Boys – Shooting shirts

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Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.