Choosing the right wrestling shoe for you
It’s not just about what looks good with your outfit, but about the shoe’s ability to give the right support on the mat.
Here is what you need to consider before getting a pair of wrestling shoes:
- Grip and flexibility
- Ankle support
- Lace garage
Grip and flexibility
Wrestling mats are covered in vinyl. This smooth and shiny surface can get quite slippery during a sweaty match. That’s why you need flat and grippy gum soles to keep you sure-footed. At the same time, you must be able to feel the ground and bend the foot naturally to perform efficient moves.
Wrestling shoes are meant to provide both, but you can still find variations which maximize either grip or flex:
||The grippiest wrestling shoes are typically found among the solid-sole or unisole wrestling shoes. These trainers feature a full-length rubber bottom, which sometimes also extends up on the edges to cover an even larger area for extra traction.
||Hybrid-sole wrestling shoes attempt to present a grip-flex compromise by leaving a streak of rubber under the midfoot.
||Wrestling shoes with split soles tend to offer the most flexibility. That is because there are two split rubber segments, one in the forefoot and one in the heel. They help the foot bend deeper by trimming down the amount of underfoot material.
However, this classification is not 100% black and white, and you can also find options that excel in both grip and flexibility. The table below will guide you more specifically on the wrestling shoe collections and on which ones are more suitable for beginner or advanced use:
Beginners are recommended to start with the all-around shoes that are neither too grippy nor too flexible. As you progress in the sport, you will know better which characteristic you need. These entry-level models also come on the budget-friendly side, ranging from $60 to $100.
Advanced/Competition wrestling shoes are made with more premium materials and have enhanced performance. Their price starts at $100 and goes as high as $160.
It doesn’t mean that beginners cannot go for the premium options and vice versa. These are just general recommendations on where to start.
A mid-to-high top silhouette is a standard wrestling shoe feature. The extended collar covers up the ankle to limit its movement and prevent injuries.
Tip. There is no uniform solution as to which height to choose. If you want more support and protection, go for the following:
- the higher collar or the extended tongue
- more padding in the tongue and collar
- added Velcro strap at the top
Wrestling is intense. You will perspire heavily during games and your feet are no exception. Sweat can cause the foot to slide around, not to mention the smell and overall discomfort.
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 additional vents in the bottom also help with temperature and moisture regulation.
Tip. The rule is simple: the more mesh you see on the upper, the more breathability you get. The compromise here is that the fit can be a bit less supportive than it is in the shoes with more suede and leather.
Why is it needed?
- 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.
- 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.
To prevent this, wrestling shoes have a lace garage feature. There are different types of garages:
- a Velcro loop
- integrated pocket on top of the tongue
Frequently asked questions
Are there wrestling shoes designed specifically for women?
All wrestling shoes are made unisex but they follow men’s sizing scheme. It means that female athletes will need to get 1 or 1.5 size down from their usual shoe size.
So, if you wear women’s US size 8 in most of your footwear, go with men’s US 6.5 in wrestling shoes. Do remember, however, that this is just a general recommendation as different brands and models can fit differently.
How should wrestling shoes 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.
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?
So far, Asics is the only brand that has released a wrestling shoe in a wide option. It’s the Asics Snapdown. Its 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.
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.