Getting your first pair of knee sleeves is a rite of passage for many athletes. There is a time and a place for sliding on those bad boys. The purpose of knee sleeves is to help keep the knee joint protected, connective tissue warm and provide additional support under heavier loads.
Some knee sleeve etiquette:
Put them on for squatting (at 75-80% of 1RM or more) primarily. Can you wear them for lighter squats or deadlifting? Yes, but probably not necessary. We want athletes to adapt, not be reliant on sleeves.
Knee cap centered. The knee sleeve should be pulled high enough that the center of the sleeve is on the patella. For a more snug fit or a more “pulled fit,” pull the sleeve 2-3mm above this point (this is my preference). Pay attention to the position of the sleeve as you sweat more and adjust often.
How thick should you buy? Depends on usage and application. A 5mm sleeve is best for squatting. A 3mm sleeve is a bit more versatile for wearing in training sessions that are not monostructural (complexes, AMRAPs, etc.). Thicker sleeves (7mm+) are best for power lifting or heavy days of low reps (i.e. ME Conjugate days).
And although knee sleeves validate that you or your coach know what you’re doing, don’t wear them to brunch.