How to choose the right wrestling shoe for you
It’s not about what looks good with your outfit, but about the shoe’s ability to give you the needed support, grip, and flexibility on the mat.
So what features or characteristics do you need to look for when choosing your next pair of wrestling shoes?
The surface of wrestling mats is made of vinyl. This smooth and shiny surface can be slippery if you’re wearing the wrong kind of shoes. Thus, you should look for wrestling shoes that employ a gum rubber outsole. This compound is naturally sticky. Its innate softness allows it to expand and adhere better on the smooth surface of the mat.
If you do not want any slippage at all, choose a pair with a full-length rubber covering the bottom. However, if you want some part of the shoe with less traction, which allows you to slide your foot from under you, then go with a pair with suede elements on the outsole.
Another thing to consider when it comes to traction is the tread pattern. Some trainers have barely-there markings which offer less grip. Others have more aggressive treads that assist not only in adherence but also in flexibility. There are also those with round structures on the outsole. They make it easier on the knees when the wearer twists or turns.
The thin outsole of wrestling trainers helps wearers in two ways: feel the ground and move naturally. Because of its thinness, the wrestler can determine which part of their foot is better to utilize. They’ll know which part of their foot to put more of their weight on so they can escape or take down their competitor.
All wrestling shoes have a flexible sole unit, but the degree of flexibility depends on the construction. Those with rubber covering the entire bottom are less pliable compared to those with rubber confined under the heel and the ball area. A flexible outsole helps wearers bend their foot naturally, which allows them to stand their ground. To find out more, see the Sole construction section below.
A high-top silhouette is a standard feature found in wrestling shoes. The collar covering the ankle secures it, limiting movement to prevent injuries. Comparing various models, you’d immediately notice the different height of the uppers. Some collars stop at the ankles, while others are higher and cover a larger area of the lower leg. Those that provide more leg coverage help protect the shin and hold the ankle securely. If you want more movement on your ankles, better choose a model that doesn’t go higher than your ankles.
A shoe for wrestling should be comfortably snug. It means from the toes to the ankle, the upper should be close-fitting, leaving very little room for movement. For professional wrestlers, most prefer a really tight fit that even their toes cannot spread out. On the other hand, newbies want more space at the front for toe splaying, similar to the fit of their training shoes.
The key here is finding a pair that won’t allow your feet to slip and slide inside but also does not restrict blood flow. A good rule to remember is that if your toes feel numb or in pain, your shoes are too tight and can cause you more problems in the future.
Wrestling is intense. It is a show of pure strength, agility, and tactics. Wrestlers can heavily perspire during games, and their feet are no exception. The problem with hot and sweaty feet is that it distracts the wearer. Also, sweat can cause the foot to slide around. To prevent this, shoe manufacturers use mesh as the primary upper component. This material allows heat to dissipate and fresh air to cool the interior. Some vents help with temperature and moisture regulation.
Laces often have aglets on their ends which are either made of plastic or metal. This makes threading the shoestrings into the eyelets easier. However, in a full-body contact sport like wrestling, these tips could poke or scratch the wearer or their opponent.
To prevent this, wrestling shoes have a lace garage feature. It can be an integrated pocket on top of the tongue, an ankle strap, or a Velcro loop. Another purpose of the lace garage is to prevent the strings from getting untied. This scenario can loosen the fit of the upper. The shoe can come off during a match or cause the wearer to trip and injure himself.
Wrestling shoes are categorized into three groups based on the structure of their outsole. Each design serves a different purpose than the other and is a common deciding factor as to which pair to acquire.
Unisole wrestling shoes feature a full-length rubber outsole. It provides more grip on the mat since the whole length of it is covered in gum rubber. There is less chance of wrestlers to slip on the mat while wearing a pair of unisole wrestling trainers.
However, rubber, even if it’s soft in nature, has a slight rigidity to it. So when the bottom of the shoe is lined with it, you can expect that the model will not be as flexible compared to the other type.
There’s also a third type of sole unit, but one that is quite uncommon. It is called a hybrid, and it is the fusion of unisole and split sole units. It is a split sole wrestling trainer, but the arch area features a piece of rubber on it. It amplifies the traction without compromising the flexibility of the outsole. The Asics Dan Gable Evo is equipped with a hybrid sole.
It is easy to spot split-sole wrestling shoes because when you look at the bottom, there are to rubber segments instead of a continuous unit. This construction provides wearers more flexibility on their feet.
Other parts of the outsole are covered in suede. Wrestlers either love or hate this material. Some think it causes the outsole to be slippery on the mat. Meanwhile, some appreciate the suede. This element allows them to slide their foot and get out of a tricky situation.
Frequently asked questions
How should my pair of wrestling trainers fit?
Wrestling shoes are meant to fit snug. It helps to securely hold the foot and give proper ankle support. This type of construction prevents the foot from sliding around or slipping out of the shoe.
According to some professional wrestlers, they prefer the fit to be really tight from the heel to the toe box. The tightness makes the shoes feel like socks that seamlessly move with the foot.
On the other hand, beginners are recommended to get styles that offer more room for the toes to spread out. It gives their digits a chance to acclimate, before transitioning to those that are more close-fitting.
- Do NOT get a pair that is too loose. If you feel like there’s too much room for your foot to slide, then its too big and you should size down.
- If your toes feel numb, or they feel like they’re being pinched, then your pair is too narrow, and you should consider a different size or model.
When should I replace my wrestling shoes?
Wrestling trainers are built to last. They do not have cushioning units like everyday running shoes, which means no worrying about loss of impact absorption with regular usage. However, if you see signs of wear and tear, it would be best to replace them immediately to prevent discomfort and injuries.
- The outsole has lost its traction.
- The upper has lost its snugness and no longer provides ankle support.
- Holes or tears that compromise the performance of the shoe.
Should I wear socks with my wrestling trainers?
Some like going commando when it comes to their wrestling shoes, but for hygienic purposes, yes. You should wear socks, especially since wrestling causes players to sweat so much from every part of their body. Sweat accumulating inside the trainer can result in fungi breeding inside it. This could lead to the owner developing Athlete’s foot which is a skin infection that causes itching and bad odor.
Another reason going sockless may not be the best idea is that if you keep your toenails long, it could snag the fabric lining and cause it to tear. The foot is also susceptible to chafing and blisters when you don’t wear socks.
Are wrestling trainers available in wide?
Some come in wide, like the Asics Snapdown 2. The forefoot section is noticeably broader compared to the heel. Also, the U-shaped toe box provides more room at the front compared to other wrestling shoes with tapered toes.
Can I use my wrestling shoes for other sports?
Yes, a lot of athletes tend to use wrestling trainers for other sports like boxing and mixed martial arts. The thin sole unit mimics the barefoot experience with the advantage of underfoot protection and ankle support.
How do I clean my wrestling shoes?
The most common materials used in wrestling trainers are mesh, suede, and synthetic leather. To clean them, a dry brush would suffice. But if there are any stains, a cloth or brush dipped in a warm soapy solution can be used to scrub the dirt off. Use a damp cloth to wipe off the suds. Then let the trainers air-dry for a few hours or overnight before using them again.
Some Adidas wrestling shoes that don’t have suede or synthetic leather components can be machine-washed. Just be sure to remove laces and insoles (if possible) and put them in a laundry bag or pillowcase, before throwing them in the washer with the shoes.
- Do NOT use a dryer, a heat source, or expose the trainer in direct sunlight to prevent early deterioration.
- It is best to avoid getting suede wet, but if it does get wet just let it dry and brush it fluff out the hair.
Should I disinfect the outsole of my wrestling shoes?
Yes, this should be done regularly, especially before stepping into the mat. A lot of people walk in and out of wrestling venues wearing their outside shoes. They bring dirt or even excretion inside the place. So, even if you exclusively use your pair for wrestling, just by walking from the bench to the mat, you are collecting dirt and microorganisms on your outsole. This could lead to skin diseases for players if they come in contact with them.
To avoid this, the best solution is to place a towel soaked in disinfectant beside the mat. This way, athletes can clean and disinfect their shoes just before a match.
Do wrestling trainers come in low-tops?
No, they do not. Wrestling shoes cover the ankle bones to support them. The high collar lessens the risk of spraining the ankle. You can find models, like the Adidas HVC 2 to have a shorter collar, but it still does not fall below the ankle bone.
For those that appreciate more leg coverage, the Asics International Lyte is a good choice. The collar covers more of the lower leg, delivering a more secure ankle and leg hold.
There’s no strict rule as to which kind wrestlers should get. It all comes down to which design works better for a person’s playing style.
Are there wrestling shoes designed specifically for women?
Unfortunately, no. Shoe manufacturers make their wrestling trainers for men. So, women who are into the sport get their shoes in smaller sizes. Men’s trainers are 1.5 sizes bigger compared to shoes for ladies. Hence, female athletes who typically wear trainers in US size 8 should get wrestling shoes in 6.5.
Some brands, like Asics, offer unisex wrestling shoes. They still follow gentlemen’s foot measurements, but there are more feminine colors to choose from.
Are wrestling trainers heavy?
No, they usually weigh less than 300 grams per shoe. Which is pretty light for trainers. The low weight of the footgear helps mimic the barefoot experience and allows wrestlers to move their feet fluidly and quickly.
Which brand of wrestling shoes should I get?
It’s a matter of personal choice. Regardless of the brand, wrestling shoes share certain things in common like a grippy outsole and a supportive upper. And most of these wrestling shoes look quite similar. So, it’s up to you which brand logo you’d like to sport on the mat.
Why don’t wrestling shoes have thick cushioning units?
The main reason is for flexibility. It allows the wearer to better feel the ground. The thin sole also allows the wrestler to utilize the right part of their feet.
Another reason is that wrestling mats are already padded. So even if you stomp on the mat, your foot won’t be negatively affected because the mat will absorb the shock. Foamed mats are needed to avoid injuries since the wrestlers spend most of their time on the floor as they try to get the upper hand against the other player.
The third reason is to prevent injuries. Because the feet are closer to the ground, they are less likely to lose their footing when walking on the soft mat.