You do not need special socks to be able to pick up a barbell and put it down again. They are not necessary in any way. But I found my deadlift training sessions went better after I started wearing kneesocks, and I think if you haven’t tried the socks, maybe you should.
The crucial thing is this: deadlifts go best when you keep the bar very close to your body. It should appear to slide right up the front surface of your legs as you stand up. By doing this, you’re staying balanced and putting your effort efficiently into moving the weight up.
But if you’re good at this job, the bar may scrape against your shins. If your bar has particularly aggressive knurling—ouch. If you compete, you will probably be required to wear socks, because shin scrapes are common and nobody wants to have to clean your blood off the bar.
I always figured I’d pick up a pair of deadlift socks right before my first competition (coming up next month, in fact). But the other day I came across some kneesocks on clearance with cute little kittycats on them and thought...why not?
Friends, they make a difference. I didn’t realise I was afraid of scraping my shins until, suddenly, I didn’t have to worry about it. Now when I lift the bar, I feel for that bar-against-sock contact, and let the bar slide on up. I video myself to check my form, and I can tell that I’m keeping the bar just a little bit tighter to my body. I’m lifting better, thanks to a $US2 ($3) pair of socks.
So, give deadlift socks a try. If you want to go a step better than whatever cheap socks are on clearance, try actual deadlift socks (SBD and Moxy are two popular brands), which tend to be made of a smooth material to minimise snagging and sometimes have a little bit of cushioning over the shin.