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Men’s Wrestling Shoes Buying Guide
Wrestling brings to mind sweaty mats, takedowns and pins, but what about footwear? Of course you need to master the fundamentals of the sport, but your choice in footwear can have an impact on your performance. Wrestling shoes come with a variety of special features, which vary slightly from brand to brand. Understanding those differences helps you choose the shoes that can help you dominate in your weight class. Our men’s wrestling shoes buying guide covers questions from, “How should men’s wrestling shoes fit?” to “Where can I buy wrestling shoes?”
Why You Need Special Wrestling Footwear
General athletic footwear works for some sports, but wrestling requires a specially designed shoe made for use on the mat. Those shoes support the foot and help your performance while you wrestle.
Check out these reasons for getting special wrestling shoes for men:
- Ankle support: The typical wrestling shoe design extends above your ankle to support and protect that vulnerable part of the body. This extra support and stability prevents your ankles from rolling over during a match. It can also give you a strong, stable base as you wrestle your opponent.
- Traction: Men’s wrestling shoes feature sole patterns designed to provide traction on slippery wrestling mats. The right kind of traction can give you the upper hand in a wrestling match, allowing you to maintain a steady stance and get the leverage you need to dominate your opponent. Traction can help you make quick moves without sliding around or losing your footing.
- Freedom of movement: Wrestling requires more quick movements and flexibility in the lower body than other sports. Wrestling footwear provides protection and support while allowing greater flexibility and movement in the foot than other athletic shoes. A quality pair of wrestling shoes allows for normal flexing and bending of the foot, which isn’t usually possible in average athletic shoes.
- Protection: Shoes designed for wrestling provide a layer of protection between the foot and wrestling mat, which can sometimes harbor ringworm or similar communicable diseases. The shoes minimize contact with those infections.
- Injury Prevention: Proper support from specialized shoes helps prevent wrestling-related injuries during practices and matches. An injury can keep you sidelined for an extended period, so injury prevention with proper wrestling equipment should be a priority.
- Regulations: Most organized wrestling situations require specialized footwear for competition. Coaches typically require wrestling shoes even during practices. Investing in a pair of quality wrestling shoes ensures you are able to compete as planned.
Wrestling Shoe Construction
The uppers and soles of wrestling shoes offer distinct features to provide optimal support and performance for wrestlers. While most wrestling shoes follow the same general style and design, each brand is slightly different in the execution. When you know what to expect, you are better prepared to compare the shoes and spot those differences.
Wrestling shoes feature a high-top design. The shoe generally reaches above the ankle with laces that also extend above the ankle to optimize ankle support. That support helps prevent injury and helps you form a solid foundation while performing various wrestling moves.
Wrestling footwear uppers come in a variety of materials, giving you the flexibility to choose a material that feels good on your foot. Ideal wrestling shoe material is lightweight with a breathable quality. Avoid shoes that lock in moisture, leaving your feet feeling wet and heavy.
Common wrestling shoe upper material options include:
- Leather: A leather wrestling shoe offers greater durability than other materials while still allowing the foot to breathe. Leather tends to cost more than other materials, but the material holds up well, especially for heavier wrestlers or those with more experience who spend a lot of time on the mat.
- Nylon: Another popular material for wrestling shoes is nylon. This option is usually cheaper, making them ideal for beginners. Nylon keeps the shoes lightweight, making them popular for lighter wrestlers who rely on quick movements to defeat their opponents.
- Combination: Many wrestling shoe models combine leather and nylon to capitalize on the benefits of each material. The shoe design may include mesh for greater breathability or other advanced designs that draw on the best features of different types of materials.
Try on wrestling shoes made from different types of material to see how each feels on your feet. You may find you have a strong preference for one type of material over another.
The sole is the other key component of a wrestling shoe. Most wrestling shoes use a rubber sole to maximize the grip on the mat. Wrestling shoe soles are much thinner than other athletic shoes to maintain the flexibility needed to perform various wrestling moves.
Some wrestling shoes feature an internal shoe liner that acts somewhat like a sock. This liner draws moisture away from your feet, keeping them and comfortable while preventing sliding inside the shoe.
Types of Wrestling Shoe Soles: Unisole vs. Split Sole
The two main types of men’s wrestling shoes include unisole and split sole. The type of men wrestling shoes you choose depends on your wrestling style and personal preference.
Unisole, or full-sole, wrestling shoes feature a single flat sole surface with a soft, fully rubberized design. This style of wrestling shoe is often favored by beginning wrestlers and heavier wrestlers who need the added support of a full sole. Features and considerations of this style of wrestling shoe include:
- High traction: Unisole wrestling shoes for men are known for providing exceptional traction. This provides no-slip performance on the wrestling mat. If traction is your priority, test out a full-sole shoe.
- Stability: This style of sole provides extra stability due to extra material in the midfoot area. Wrestlers in higher weight classes may benefit from this stability, but wrestlers of any size may feel more comfortable with this sense of stability.
- Constant mat contact: The one-piece design gives you constant contact with the mat for additional control. Your full foot can maintain contact with the mat.
- Even weight distribution: The full, flat sole helps distribute weight evenly to help keep you balanced. This helps during throws.
- Weight: Because of the full sole, this style of wrestling shoe can weight slightly more, which can give your foot a heavy feeling and may slow you down slightly. Look for newer materials to reduce the weight if you want a lighter pair of wrestling shoes.
- Less flexibility: The fully rubberized sole reduces the flexibility of your foot. This can inhibit your movement somewhat, but the sole is still thinner and more flexible than regular athletic shoes.
- Wear: One potential drawback is the rate at which the soles wear out on unisole shoes. That constant contact with the mat can cause the rubberized sole to wear down slightly faster, meaning you’ll need to replace the shoes a little sooner. Invest in a high-quality pair when you buy wrestling shoes to increase the longevity of the footwear.
A split-sole wrestling shoe uses a two-piece design, with separate pieces under the heel and under the ball of the foot. The midfoot area between those two rubberized traction pieces consists of a flexible material, which varies by manufacturer and shoe model. Leather and suede are two materials that are sometimes used to connect the two sole areas. Quick, light wrestlers often prefer split-sole wrestling shoes for the flexibility. Features and considerations for split-sole wrestling shoes include:
- Flexibility: The primary reason for choosing split-sole wrestling shoes is for the flexibility that comes with the connecting material in the midfoot area. This section and the two separate rubberized sole areas allow independent movement between the heels and toes, giving you greater mobility on the mat. Split-sole shoes allow for the most natural bending and flexing of the feet. If unisole wrestling shoes feel too restricting when it comes to foot flexibility, try a split-sole shoe.
- Barefoot feeling: The freedom of movement due to the increased flexibility creates almost a barefoot feeling. This can make the shoes more comfortable to wear and give you better control on the wrestling mat.
- Lightweight: Because the sole isn’t fully covered with the rubberized material, split-sole wrestling shoes tend to be slightly lighter than unisole shoes. This keeps you quick and light on the mat, which can give you the advantage over your opponent.
- Quick movements: Split-sole wrestling shoes are ideal for wrestlers who like to make sudden movements or sharp direction changes. This usually includes wrestlers in lighter weight classes who rely on quick movements.
- Less traction: Since the rubberized sole only covers a portion of the heel and ball area, you won’t have as much traction on the mat as you would with a unisole shoe. Shoe manufacturers position the soles strategically in areas where you need the traction most, so you still get grip from split-sole shoes. Compare the traction on different split-sole shoes to ensure you choose a pair with enough grip to keep you from slipping.
Traction Pattern Options
The V shape is a common traction pattern for wrestling shoes. This shape gives you the greatest amount of traction because it digs into the mat. This gives you a tacky feeling that optimizes your stance and power. Choose the V pattern if you want to maximize traction.
Another option is a circular tread design. This allows for quick movements while still preventing your feet from slipping. Decide if you prefer greater traction or the ability to make quick movements when analyzing the available traction patterns on wrestling shoes.
Men’s Wrestling Shoes Fit
Wrestling shoes fit snug to the foot for a “sock-like” feeling. Some people choose a looser fit, but most experienced wrestlers opt for a snug fit. There are plenty of reasons to choose a snug fit for wrestling shoes including:
- Its tight fit optimizes your speed and agility on the mat.
- It gives you better traction.
- A tight shoe is better able to support and protect your foot.
- You are less likely to have your shoe slip off during your match.
- A shoe that fits like a sock gives you a better sense of where the mat is so you can optimize your contact with the mat.
- A sock-like fit generally means the shoe has less material, making it lighter so it doesn’t interfere with your moves.
Keep in mind the shoes will stretch as you wear them, so if you buy a size that feels loose, they may become overly loose after stretching. Despite this “breaking in” period, your wrestling shoes should feel comfortable from the first time you put them on your feet. If the first shoes you try feel uncomfortable or rub in certain spots, try a different brand.
Use these fit tips and principles when trying on wrestling shoes:
- Measure first: Have your feet measured before buying wrestling shoes. Your regular shoe size gives you a starting point, but wrestling shoes tend to run smaller than regular athletic shoes. Plan to go up at least half a size in wrestling shoes. Some brands may have an even wider difference in sizing. Follow the sizing chart from the manufacturer as a guide, but focus more on how the shoe actually fits than the size chart.
- Check width: Width is also an important consideration. While the shoe should be snug, it shouldn’t feel too tight. If you have wide feet, look for wrestling shoes that come in a special wide width.
- Move around: When you try on the shoes, move around in them the way you would on the wrestling mat. Stand up, crouch down and try a few of your wrestling moves in the shoes. Move your feet around in the shoe to check for flexibility. This gives you a sense of what the shoes might feel like on the mat, which is much different than just standing in a shoe store.
- Bring socks: Wear the type of socks you wear during a wrestling match or practice when you try on the shoes to see how they work with your preferred sock style.
- Weigh in: Notice the weight of the shoe when it is on your feet. You want a lightweight shoe that doesn’t feel as if it is holding your foot down or restricting movement at all.
- Check breathability: Wear the shoes for a few minutes to test how breathable the design is. If your feet start feeling hot or sweaty right away, look for a shoe made from more breathable materials. Mesh sections or perforations in the shoe design are indicators of a breathable design.
- Focus on ankle support: Note how high the shoe comes up on your ankles. Check for lacing that comes all the way up and over the ankles. These features give you the greatest amount of ankle support, which can prevent injuries on the mat.
- Wiggle your toes: Give your toes a little wiggle room. While you don’t want the shoe to feel loose, you also don’t want your toes crammed into the ends of the wrestling shoes. Aim for about a fingernail width of extra space beyond your longest toe, and make sure you can wiggle your toes inside the shoe.
- Try the laces: Lace up the shoes fully to ensure they provide the support and comfort you want. If you can’t lace the shoes tightly enough to get a snug fit, try a different pair. You are usually required to either tuck or tape your laces to prevent them from untying. Test out the shoes to see if you can easily tuck the laces inside.
When you buy wrestling shoes online, you can’t try them on before purchasing, but you can do your research. Dive into the specs and product descriptions to determine the type of sole, traction patterns and other details that can influence your decision. Review the size charts for sizing help. Look for a vendor with a return policy allowing you to return or exchange unused shoes if they don’t fit properly. Once you find a favorite wrestling shoe brand and style, ordering online becomes easier, but it is still a good idea to measure each time to determine if your foot size or width has changed.
Wrestling Shoe Brands
Comparing brands of wrestling shoes helps you figure out which manufacturer create footwear that matches your specific needs. Stores that sell wrestling shoes typically offer more than one brand, so you can compare the differences as you shop. Many name brand shoe manufacturers produce wrestling shoes, including Adidas, Asics and Brute.
When it comes to wrestling shoes, Adidas offers multiple style options and models, including the Combat Speed 4 wrestling shoe. This shoe fits like a sock while offering a lightweight design.
Asics wrestling shoes offer another option, with styles such as the Asics Split Second 9 wrestling shoes, Asics Cael and Asics Matflex 5. Asics Split Second wrestling shoes feature a split-sole design for a combination of traction and maneuverability. The Matflex 5 is an option if you prefer a unisole design.
Brute offers the John Smith Signature wrestling shoe with one of the lightest designs available. These shoes feel like socks yet offer the traction needed to perform your wrestling moves effectively.
Whether you’re considering Split Second wrestling shoes, John Smith shoes or something else, you may wonder, “Where you can buy wrestling shoes?” and “How much are wrestling shoes?” Many sports equipment stores sell wrestling shoes, but it’s important to buy from a reputable retailer known for quality products, such as Schuylkill Valley Sports. This ensures you get a quality pair of wrestling shoes.
Pricing on wrestling shoes varies considerably just like other athletic shoes. Prices typically range from $30 to $130 for men’s wrestling shoes. If you’re looking for cheap wrestling shoes for men, check for discounted prices on name brand shoes to ensure quality. Always compare the features and inspect the shoe to ensure the cheaper option offers the durability and quality you want. When you choose a quality pair, your wrestling shoes should last one to two years.
Analyzing the various features and qualities of the wrestling shoe options helps you narrow down your selection. While fit and quality are most important, a few other elements go into the decision-making process. Keep these tips in mind when shopping for wresting shoes:
- Compare the appearance: Looks should never trump your comfort and support, but the way the shoes look is a factor for many people. Wrestling shoes often feature black uppers with detailing in contrasting colors. The same model may come in different color choices, giving you some variety once you narrow down a style that fits your foot well. If you are part of a wrestling team, you may need to follow certain style or color guidelines established by the league or coach.
- Buy beginner shoes: If you are new to wrestling, consider choosing a moderately-priced wrestling shoe to start with. This gives you a chance to test out the sport and a particular brand of shoes before investing more money in higher-priced shoes.
- Double up on shoes: Buying two pairs of wrestling shoes lets you rotate the pairs for extended use. One option is to buy one pair for practice and one pair for competition. This keeps your match shoes in optimal condition.
Find Your Perfect Wrestling Shoes
Now that you’ve learned how to choose wrestling shoes for men, it’s time to put those ideas into practice. When figuring out where to buy wrestling shoes, look no further than Schuylkill Valley Sports. We offer a selection of wrestling shoes brands and styles to provide the support, traction and flexibility you want on the mat. Check out our selection of wrestling shoes online, or come to one of our Schuylkill Valley Sports locations to see the selection in person.