Wrestling shoes have, obviously, been a big staple in wrestling gyms across the world.
Mandatory in fact. If you don’t have your singlet, your head-gear and your wrestling boots on, most wrestling gyms won’t even let you step on the mat.
Wrestling shoes are worn for a reason. Your foot, ankle and toes are very delicate and can easily be injured or broken whilst training.
Have you ever tweaked an ankle? Bent a toe back? Had a toenail ripped off in a scramble? Not fun. Mats can also be slippery. Ten minutes into sparring and the floor might as well be a slip-and-slide.
Wrestling footwear give you grip and traction that you wouldn’t otherwise have if you were bare foot. A violent slip on a wet patch and you can quite easily tear a knee or pull a ligament. Someone else could slip and land on you and cause injury that way too.
It is very easily done. Scary, even. Said sweaty mats are also a breeding ground for tons of horrible infections. Athlete’s foot and ringworm can spread through academies like wildfire. But with a pair of shoes, you’ve put a strong barrier between you and those diseases.
These are the reasons why wrestling shoes are becoming a far more common site in BJJ and grappling gyms.
The Best Wrestling Shoes Reviewed
Below, we have selected our top 5 picks for wrestling shoes. They’re in no particular order and any of the pairs would serve you well.
ASICS Men's Matflex 5 Wrestling Shoe
- Lace Garage technology - A pocket enabling the laces to be tucked in and unexposed.
- Full Length Gum Rubber Outsole -
ASICS are a powerhouse in the wrestling footwear field and have produced a ton of great shoes. For example, this shoe is the 5th in the successful Matflex line.
This is a durable and quality shoe that can withstand a beating. It’s made for the wrestling mat and the wrestling mat only. This is no casual shoe to be worn about outside. Though, like most wrestling shoes, it features a flat heel which makes it perfect for weightlifting exercises like squats and deadlifts.
They are very light so you won’t be weighed down or constricted when you’re grappling.
A word of caution though; they come up small. You will have to purchase a half-size to a full-size higher than you would normally get. Specifically due to their narrowness. So if you have wide feet, this may be a concern.
ASICS Men’s Omniflex-Attack 2.0 Wrestling Shoe
- Omniflex sole design wrestling specific traction zones for extra grip
- Lace garage a pocket enabling the laces to be tucked in and unexposed
- Compression fit bootie system outstanding fit without added weight
Another great shoe from ASICS. This is a more stylish and fashionable shoe than the plainer Matflex. You can choose from 4 different colour options including a blue, red and gold number and a particularly snazzy gold and black colour scheme.
If you like to have a bit of flair and style along with substance, then the Omniflex will be your go-to.
Incredibly light at only 9oz, it’s almost like you’re bare foot.
They also feature ASICS’ Lace Garage Technology. This is a pocket that covers up and protects your laces so there are no nasty accidents like people tripping over exposed shoelaces. This design feature also adds to the whole sleek and streamlined motif of the shoe.
Again though, the shoes come up small so you will have to order a larger size than usual.
Adidas Wrestling Men’s Combat Speed 4 Wrestling Shoe
- Sock-like Fit
- Extremely Breathable
- Split-Suede Outsole
Most wrestling shoes look a bit out of place when worn on the street, but not this shoe. If you were going to purchase a shoe that you could wear on both occasions, then the Combat Speed 4 would be that shoe. Though for hygiene purposes, best not to wear dirty shoes on the mat. Keep them separate.
The Combat Speed 4 is made of premium leather with a rubber sole for both grip and durability of use. They also come in almost 20 different colours/styles to choose from, so there’s bound to be something that piques your interest.
The body is a single layer mesh which lets your foot breathe and allows proper ventilation. Some other shoes can be too tight and restrictive which leads to a damp, smelly shoe.
Like most wrestling shoes, you are advised to purchase a half-size up than your usual size, yet Adidas are known for being more true-to-size than ASICS.
Adidas Impact Wrestling Shoe
If you’re still unsure of whether wrestling shoes for you, it might be worth trying a pair Zephz. These are the cheapest pair on the list and are fairly standard and plain. No frills, just substance.
You can grab a pair of these, chuck them on and give them a thrashing on the mats. See how you like the added control and grip on the floor and how much better your takedown shots feel.
Zephz are narrow and slender like a sock, so no cumbersome shoes that hinder you or make you feel uncomfortable.
ASICS Men’s Snapdown Wrestling Shoe
- Integrated Lace Garage: Complies with rules regarding laces.
- Full Length Rubber Outsole
ASICS have really cornered the market with wrestling shoes and if you’re after something decent and top quality, it’s only really them and Adidas that you have to choose from.
The Snapdown shoe gives your foot, ankle and toes complete support so you can grapple and train without having to worry about vulnerable appendages. The ankle in particular is thick and durable so you’d be hard-pressed to twist an ankle or to tweak your foot in unnatural angles.
The Snapdown use a synthetic skin-suede interior so that your feet stay comfortable when training hard. No chafing or rubbing. They came in 4 different colour schemes, including the standard black and silver model and a white, blue and yellow option for those who wish to stand out.
If you have wider feet than these are a good choice. Almost all wrestling shoes are narrower than ordinary shoes but these feature a specific wider option when ordering.
Wrestling Shoes Buyers Guide
When it comes to buying wrestlings shoes, there’s nothing worse than buying something that doesn’t suit your needs. Every wrestler has different needs from their equipment, whether they want a grippier sole for better traction, or laced boots because they’re tighter than a hook and loop system. Here are some aspects of wrestling shoes you should consider when making your purchase.
What are Wrestling Shoes?
Originally wrestlers would used to compete barefoot, but historically, as the sport was adopted by other cultures, variations of the sport started to appear. The first recorded use of shoes during wrestling matches were the romans.
The first wrestling shoes used to be padded sandals, which were worn by wrestling back in the roman era. These days the shoes have been refined and technological advances have seen us move far away from the padded sandals.
These days modern wrestling shoes have been carefully engineered and designed to be lightweight, supportive and ergonomic. The latest boots provide support and stability in key areas of the foot and ankle, while allowing for maximum grip on the wrestling mats, in order to enhance a wrestlers physical attributes.
Wrestling shoes are more than just you’re everyday shoes. They are an engrained part of a sport that has been around for thousands of years.
Why Should You Wear Wrestling Shoes?
For a wrestler shoes are one of the most important pieces of equipment for them. A decent paid of wrestling shoes can give a wrestler a real advantage during a match and help develop your game to new heights. Wrestling shoes have been engineers to allow for all wrestling movements and enhance performance during high-level matches.
Moves such as pins, suplex’s and shots can all be improved upon with a great pair of shoes. Obviously the techniques need to be there but they can be improved upon. Good wrestling shoes can help you become a better wrestler.
You maybe surprised to know that there’s quite a variety when it comes to wrestling shoes. There are different types of soles, fastenings, heights and thicknesses, all unique in their own way dependant on what type of wrestler a person is.
Wrestling shoes will normally have higher arch support compared to other kind of footwear. This arch support angles the foot forward slightly, allowing the wrestler to be more agile on their toes, which will help them generate explosive techniques more efficiently. Exploding from a static position can be quite strenuous on feet, which is why shoes are needed to help protect them.
The Best Wrestling Shoe Features
So what features should your look out for when you’re looking to purchase a new pair of wrestling shoes? There are a lot of companies and wrestling shoe brands and each brand and model have their own variation and designs on the traditional model. The ultimate goal of a wrestling shoe, is that it should help a wrestler distribute their weight for more effective movement, protect their ft from mats and the floor, and protect the wrestler’s ankles from rolling over and keep it supported.
While there’s a huge choice of shoes to choose from, here are some of the best features you should be looking in your wrestling shoes.
It was want your wrestling shoes to perform to the best of their ability, the move important thing is that they fit correctly. When you buy a wrestling shoe, you want them to be a bit snug, the leather and synthetic material they’re normally made of will stretch and they will fit your feet like a glove.
A well-fitting wrestling shoe will last you for years and improve your traction and performance far more than an ill-fitting pair.
A big reason why wrestling shoes are worn are the protection they provide the ankles during the high-velocity action that takes place. This is something you’re not going to get in normal sneakers. The ankle protection is provide, since most wrestling shoes are actually boots, which are padded around the ankle area. They are then reinforced with laces.
It’s essential that you lace your wrestling shoes properly in order to get the extra protection that they provide. A number of models also include supporting hook and loop straps at the top, allowing for additional support.
When deciding on your wrestling shoes you will need to think about what materials are available. Most popular wrestling shoes are lightweight and normally include a mixture of leather, synthetic leather, mesh netting, suede or nylon.
Ideally you want to choose a pair that’s going to wick moisture away from the feet. Cheaper wrestling shoes are normally made from a mixture of nylon and mesh vents, where the more expensive pairs are made from leather and suede and are typically better fitting than the cheaper variants.
When you’re choosing the type of wrestling shoes to fit your needs a lot of it can come down to the style of soles. Let’s talk about what type of soles are available for wrestling shoes.
The uniform sole is a traditional sole of a shoe, which comes in one piece of rubber, attached to the bottom of the shoe, much like your standard pair of sneakers. A unisole is perfect for someone who wants something a bit more ridged at the base of their feet. These are perfect for heavier wrestlers, who aren’t going to be as quick or explosive at the light weights. The uniform sole is designed to distribute weight more evenly
A split sole wrestling shoe have a physical split between two parts of the sole at the bottom of a wrestling shoe. The sole is split into two distinct sections, the heel and the ball of the foot. The design was introduced in the 80s and has been an integral part of wrestling shoes since then. These days the soles are made from a lighter material. The idea of the sole is to help imitate the natural form of the foot, so you can have the dexterity of being barefoot, while having the protection of shoes.
Split sole wrestling shoes are perfect for lightweight wrestlers, who are competing at a high pace. The design and flexibility of the sole is perfect for quick transitions.
Staying grippy on the mat is one of the most important things during wrestling and just like the soles of the shoes, there are a few things you need to know when you’re looking at the traction pattern of your wrestling shoes.
Perfect for heavy weights, the V-shape grip pattern is great for keeping stable and static. This traction pattern gives the shoe the most grip, allowing you to execute controlled throws with ease.
This is for more of the lighter weights, a circluar traction pattern allows for easier pivots on the heal and the balls of the feet. Perfect for those fast-paced scrambles that lightweights like to enjoy.
Wrestling shoes could be an absolute game-changer for you and its definitely worth it for everyone to at least try them out once.
Just think, what you could accomplish in class with all that added grip and stability?