When your team comes out of the locker room and takes the court, your uniforms are the first impression opponents and fans have of you. Before the first three, before the first block, before the first dribble, even before tip-off, they are going to take a look at you and think “Wow, that team really has it together!” or “Well, this will be easy. Who’s up for a triple-double tonight?

You want your team to look good, but you can’t break the bank on uniforms - the team has plenty of other expenses. Here are a few things to look for when choosing the right company for your customized basketball jerseys.

1. Do your research and map your options for sublimated printing

Create a list of custom jersey providers who match your criteria. Some features to consider include:

Proximity: Look for the home court advantage

Put all the jerseys, shorts and socks - one set for home, one set for away - for your entire team together, and the box gets pretty big. Looking for a sublimation printer with experience in basketball jerseys near you may be a hail Mary shot from half court, but it could save you money and time on shipping. 

If you’re lucky enough to find a custom basketball jersey provider near you, put them near the top of the list: a single visit to meet the owners and the printers is worth more than reading every review and blog post.

Experience: Choose veterans over rookies

The difference between a beginner and an expert is always clear. You will find better deals with established custom jersey companies because they have strong relationships and volume pricing with the apparel providers.

Those long-term vendor relationships are also testaments to their expertise and the ability of their employees. If they have been in business for that long, buying and sublimating that much apparel, it’s because they do it right. Both printing and embroidery require an expert’s eye to oversee the whole procedure. You do not want 12 different jerseys pretending to be a “uniform” for your team.

Reviews: What do other team managers and uniform designers have to say?

The one thing you can rely on Google listings for is a snapshot of customer reviews.

Take a deep dive into the reviews on Google, then cross-check those against Yelp, Facebook and anywhere else people had something to say about their customized sports jerseys. Look for the number of stars, the previous clients’ feedback and if and how the company responded to both positive and negative comments.

However, there is one thing that tops Google and every other review site: word of mouth. Know someone who needed a custom jersey and got it made by a firm? Ask for details of the experience. Talk to the other teams in your league, or people you know in other sports leagues. Ask around on social media as well as people you encounter at the basketball courts.

If they have something good to say, the process becomes an easy lay-up. If not, you know which vendor just fouled out.

2. Make a thorough check of the custom jersey provider

You have shortlisted the firms, now is the time to scrutinize them.

How do they work with you on the custom design process?

Not everyone is on the same step when they start looking for a custom basketball jerseys provider. Whether you are a true beginner and have nothing more than a few ideas floating around your head, or you have everything sketched to the finest detail and just need someone to actually do the sublimation printing, the firm you choose should be able to do it all.

An experienced custom basketball jersey provider knows all the steps involved, and will ensure you do not overlook anything. They will double check all your work, point out anything that could be done better or at a better price, and talk you through every detail of the process. They’ll explain the limitations on printing, embroidery and fabrics and materials; the best way of blending or shading colors; and how to use sublimation printing, embroidery, stitching and every other tool of the trade to make the perfect basketball jersey.

Quality of product: Do they deliver what they promise?

Custom ordering any product requires a quality check, and jerseys are no different. No matter how much of a good impression they make, don’t trust them with your team’s uniforms until you have a sample in hand.

A custom jersey provider should produce a mock-up of your jersey for you to review and for them to show off their work. This is your last chance to make sure you designed everything the way you wanted, and that they are able to do the job to your standards.

You should also check the quality of the material.

Jerseys are clothing, and if you have ever grabbed the short end of the stick while shopping, you know that a not-so-well-made clothing article looks horrendous and then falls apart easily. That’s bad enough when it happens in everyday wear. Think about what the players will be doing in these! Top quality is not a luxury - it’s a necessity.

3. Set the standards for yourself and the jersey provider

Cost: Pay for what you need, but no more

Your team probably isn’t bankrolled by a millionaire nor do you have mega-sponsorship deals. If you did, you might not have to consider cost as closely. But in the real world, you have to consider the team’s budget in finding the right custom jersey provider

Get quotes from all the firms you shortlist. Factor in quantity pricing, shipping, any future discounts they might offer for repeat customers. If you do all that and none of them meet your needs or are not in your budget, go back a few steps and continue the search process.

As difficult as it may be, try not to compromise the quality of goods when weighing all the factors that go into your budget. A jersey can last a long time if it’s well-made. If you choose the right provider the first time, you may not need to go back for a while. On the other hand, if you try to save money up front, you might end up skimping on quality and have to get another batch ordered next season, and there goes your savings.

Accountability: On time, and on point

Time is of the essence when you need custom jerseys for any sport. Plan far enough ahead that nobody is going to be crunched at the last minute, but set a firm date of delivery and hold the supplier accountable to it.

Remember to keep the last date of delivery well before the season or tournament starts. This is not the time for buzzer beaters.

Hold yourself accountable to your team, as well. Before you submit to the printer the list of names, jersey numbers and measurements, double check everything, then ask the players to double check, and you double check again. You’re demanding professionalism and perfection from the printer. Ensure you put yourself on that standard as the basketball jersey designer.

Finding a custom basketball jersey provider can seem like a tedious, thankless task. But when you go through the process smartly and deliberately with the right custom jersey provider, you get your reward every time you see your team on the court.

Hopefully, this article will start you on the right path, and we’re ready to answer whatever questions you have and help in any we can!