Much like track or basketball, when it comes to wrestling, shoes are one of the most important aspects of the uniform. No other pieces of gear, from mouthguards, to headgear, to singlets, are going to affect your performance quite as much as your shoes. But how do you choose the best wrestling shoes for your skill level?
There is such a variety of brands to choose from, all claiming to offer the best product. Here are some things to consider whether you are choosing your first pair of shoes, are a seasoned wrestler, or are trying to buy a gift for your child.
How Much Do They Cost?
The first thing most people ask before making any purchase is, “What is the price?” The price for wrestling shoes can vary greatly depending on the brand, but it is completely possible to get a decent pair starting at around $50. For more extravagant pairs, you’ll more likely be dishing out at least $200. In most cases, the more expensive the shoe, the better the quality.
However, if you are new to wrestling, you should not feel pressured to buy the most expensive shoes on the market. Buying a pair of cost-effective wrestling shoes to get you started is a smart decision. This will allow you to learn what you like in a wrestling shoe, and you can upgrade them as you advance in the sport.
How Do They Fit?
When it comes to wrestling shoes, how they feel on your feet is the most important thing to consider. While the fit of a shoe is all a matter of personal preference, most wrestlers will say they prefer a snug fit. A snug shoe will allow for a better grip on the mat, so you can avoid any accidental slips in a crucial moment. Additionally, you will want to have a pair of wrestling shoes that aren’t bothering or distracting you during a match. A snug-fitting shoe is likely one you can put on and forget about. That way, you can focus on what matters: Perfecting your skills and pinning your opponent. While a snug fit is recommended, there is an exception to this rule. If you are a young wrestler whose foot is still growing, it might be best to choose a shoe with a little wiggle room. Also, make sure your shoes are snug but not so tight they are uncomfortable.
Are They Too Heavy?
You don’t want your shoes to be weighing you down on the mat, which means you will want to find a pair that are as light as possible. When you are trying on shoes, be sure to take a walk around and be sure the shoes aren’t adding much extra weight to your feet that could be a problem during a match.
Make Sure They Have Flexibility
Stiff wrestling shoes are not going to do you any favors. Flexibility is key in assisting you on the mat without getting in your way. When trying on shoes, do a few lunges, get in a plank position, and bend the shoes in every direction you can. Make sure there is no tightness that would get in your way on the mat.
Do They Have Ankle Support?
Ankle support can be tricky. You want a shoe that will support your ankles firmly and help prevent any injuries, but you also don’t want so much support that your ankles become stiff and are unable to move. Ankle support is something you will learn to detect by trying on several different pairs of shoes. Make sure your ankles feel secure and comfortable in the shoes you choose.
Make Sure They Have Solid Traction
Sole grip is imperative in a good pair of wrestling shoes. If there is no traction in your outsole, you will be slipping on the mat, and you won’t have any control during a match. To test for a solid sole grip, simply see if your shoes slide on the floor. Lean all of your weight into the wall and see if your shoes begin to slip. If they do, they might not be the highest quality wrestling shoes.
Split Sole vs. Unisole
To tell the difference between a split sole and a unisole wrestling shoe, simply look at the outside sole. If it has a solid sole from the toe to the heel, it is unisole. If the shoe’s sole as a split between the toe and the heel around the arch of the foot, it is a split sole. There is no wrong answer when it comes to the two. It is completely up to personal preference. Unisoles are known for having a better grip, however, because the split sole leaves space in the center of the shoe, they provide a greater range of flexibility. Choose your sole based on whichever skill set you need to work on most.
Whether you are choosing your first or eighth pair of wrestling shoes, understanding what makes a great shoe is key to success on the mat. Once you have bought the optimal shoes for your skill level and budget, be sure to complete the champion wrestler shopping cart with a custom singlet and headgear from Takedown.