In my years playing roller derby with my Apple Watch, I've been asked a few times about protecting my smartwatch — both from the outside world and fellow players. (No one wants a sapphire screen to the face.)

While you may not play as vigorous a contact sport as roller derby, there are still a ton of benefits to protecting your watch while running, swimming, playing basketball, and the like. Here are my favorite tips for fellow derby players and lifters — may they help you in your sport, too.

Before you do anything else: Turn on screen lock

I can't stress this tip enough: After you start a workout, your second step should be to turn on the screen lock (or water lock on the Series 2 Apple Watch). This keeps your Watch's screen and buttons from being accidentally triggered while you're working out and ensures you won't inadvertently pause your lifting session by having a sweaty glove swipe be mistaken for fingers.

1. Reverse your watch

If you're doing a lot of lifting or other exercise interactions where the back of your wrist may come into contact with metal, the easiest way to protect your Apple Watch is to simply reverse it: put the screen on the inside of your wrist, with the band facing outward. It looks a little silly, but the heart rate monitor works just as effectively (if not more so, since you're less likely to get misreadings from bending your wrist backwards) — and you won't risk a scientific experiment that pits metal weight bars against a ceramic watch.

2. Hide it under your gear

Photo courtesy Small Hall Studios.

If you play a partial- or full-contact sport, it's likely you have some sort of wrist coverings to protect your hands from sprains or breaks. Most guards have a certain amount of flex room — more than enough to slip an Apple Watch underneath. This is largely how I've been protecting my Apple Watch for the last year; I just put my wrist guards on over it and go (after locking the screen, of course).

I will note that throughout my Apple Watch Sport's life, I did get one small scratch on the Ion-X screen from this method, so your use may vary; I switched to the Steel watch and the sapphire screen as a result and haven't had any scratches since.

3. Wrap it

If you don't have wrist gear in your sport of choice, you can always make one: When I work out at the gym, I often wrap my watch in a sweat wristband, which helps protect it from wayward bumps and bruises.

4. Turn it into an armband

If your sport doesn't allow you to wear the Apple Watch for fear of accidental face-smacking with a metal object, consider taking it out of its watch setting and making it an armband. Twelve South's ActionSleeve takes your Apple Watch's casing and snaps it into a protective neoprene and plastic shell, reducing its ability to hurt anyone, while giving you a better heart reading, too. Before it disappeared in the bowels of my gym bag, I used this almost daily for a few weeks with my watch when working out — even at derby — and loved it.

5. Get a protective sleeve

If you're not so much worried about hitting someone as getting your watch dirty while working out, you might want to grab an all-purpose protective sleeve for your watch; this protects its sides and screen from scratching without interfering with heart rate monitoring or any of the watch's other vital functions. I've used (and like) Spigen's Rugged Armor line of Apple Watch cases, but there are a number of other options on Amazon, along with screen protectors (if you're worried about shattering that screen).

6. Take it off

If you're really truly worried about damaging your Apple Watch while working out, the best answer is to take it off. You can buy an external heart rate monitor to pair to your iPhone or Apple Watch for your vital health data and leave your Apple Watch activity tracking to more everyday actions. Not the most fun option, I know, but it's an option nonetheless.

How do you protect your Apple Watch?

Use these tips or others? Let me know in the comments!

Apple Watch


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