Footwork is at the core of virtually every combat sport. And wrestling is no exception. But decent footwork is hard without a reliable contact with the ground. That’s what wrestling shoes provide.
And that’s why choosing wrestling shoes is difficult. Let’s find out what you need to keep in mind.
Arch and Ankle Support
Buying a good pair of wrestling shoes often means you need ankle and arch support. Sufficient support can help you negate injuries when on and off the mat. Not all wrestling shoes, however, provide these key support features. At best, they provide only the bare minimum to cut down the costs.
Ankle support is necessary for when you spar and place a lot of weight on your joints. A good pair of wrestling shoes can help support that added weight by bracing your ankles. This prevents sprained ankles and other joint injuries. For ample ankle support, look for wrestling shoes that have no gap between your ankle and the shoe.
On top of ankle support, you need adequate arch support. This type of support is what boosts your agility and balance. It does this by distributing the pressure equally across your feet. For optimal arch support, look for wrestling shoes that offer high arch support.
Flexibility on the mat is more than just a physical characteristic. It involves your shoes being flexible too. Wrestling shoes make for the most flexible type of athletic footwear. Depending on your wrestling stance preferences, you may opt for either a rigid shoe or a flexible wrestling shoe. The design of the shoe and the shoes sole determine the flexibility of your wrestling shoes.
Type of Shoe Sole
There are two main types of shoe soles in wrestling shoes: split sole and insole. Both have their perks and picking between the two sole types is often dependent on how you wrestle.
Split sole wrestling shoes come with a sole that’s split along the middle of the shoe. This type of sole will provide you with more flexibility. But this also means your shoes will have less contact surface and a reduced grip on the mat. These soles are ideal for lightweight wrestlers.
Insole wrestling shoes suit those who like more rigidity and grip when on the mat. These are the more traditional sole types for wrestling shoes. An insole wrestling shoe has a sole that extends the entire length of the foot. While it helps avoid slipping and sliding around on the mat, it doesn’t let you enjoy a lot of flexibility. Heavyweight wrestlers have the most to gain from this type.
One purpose of wrestling shoes is to keep your feet from getting smashed, bashed, and bloodied. And while most shoes provide some level of protection, only high-quality wrestling shoes can ensure full shielding of your feet. Such wrestling shoes come with the tongue, lacing, and structure that fit your feet well and aren’t bulky.
In wrestling, a little extra weight can do a lot for or a lot against you. Wrestling requires a fair amount of agility, footwork, and movement. And like a good pair of running shoes, wrestling shoes should be lightweight. Lightweight wrestling shoes can kick your agility up a notch on the mat. As long as they don’t take too much away from the wrestling shoes capacity to protect your feet.
Materials and Stitching Quality
Two factors alone can determine the quality of almost any type of shoes out there: materials and stitching quality.
Mesh, leather, nylon, and suede are the common materials used for making wrestling shoes. Some materials, such as leather and suede, provide more protection for feet and traction on the mat. Mesh and nylon, on the other hand, make wrestling shoes more lightweight and breathable.
Stitching determines how long your wrestling shoes last. Take a look at how the materials are sewn together. Pay attention to the inner and the outer sole of the shoe, the tongue, and the shoe’s eyelets. If you see any adhesive used, this means the shoe has inferior stitching and is likely to fall apart quickly.
Shoe Size and Fit
It’s a good idea to have a half-inch or a full inch between the shoe and your toes. But this rule of thumb doesn’t apply to wrestling shoes. Wrestling shoes should fit your feet comfortably with a minimal gap between your toes and the shoe. Shoe size may also vary depending on the brand, the design, and the type of wrestler.
You may find that one brand fits your feet better than others. A good tip for a better fitting shoe is to try them on and then test some basic movements when in the shoes. This will help you determine if this brand of wrestling shoe is the right fit for you.
Wrestling shoes will stretch once you break them in. For lightweight wrestlers, you may require a tighter fitting shoe. Heavyweight wrestlers can work with a little extra toe room so they can do without a tight fit.
If you’re looking to add more grip when on the mat, then traction is your best friend. Wrestling shoes differ in how much traction they offer. If you’re a heavyweight wrestler, then a shoe with ridges will provide you with the right amount of traction.
For lightweight wrestlers, a circular type of traction is better since it won’t negatively impact your performance. This type of traction pattern will help prevent slipping when moving around on the mat.
What Wrestling Shoes Brands Can You Go With?
You can start your search for wrestling shoes from checking what these brands have to offer:
Can You Wear Wrestling Shoes for Other Combat Sports?
Wrestling shoes are a specialized type of footwear, designed with the needs of wrestlers in mind.
Can You Wear Wrestling Shoes as Everyday Shoes?
Since wrestling shoes provide minimal arch support, they’re not an optimal everyday footwear option.