Due to staffing shortages, we are not accepting walk-in customers.  Please place all orders online. Free shipping over $80!


Your Cart is Empty

Wrestling Shoe Buying Guide

You’ve probably heard the conventional wisdom that goes something like this: If it comes between you and the ground, don’t skimp on it. That includes your car’s tires, the mattress you sleep on, and most importantly your shoes.

Shopping for wrestling shoes can be a little overwhelming - there is a wide variety of styles and big price discrepancies - how do you know which one is right for you? Read on for some helpful suggestions and answers to common questions about picking the right pair of wrestling shoes.

How much should I spend?

You’ll typically see prices that range from $50 to over $150 for wrestling shoes. Like most things you shop for, the most expensive shoe isn’t necessarily the best for you. Shoes on the higher end of the spectrum use the most advanced materials and features - those can be critical if you’re competing at a high level, but for the average wrestler they might be overkill. A good rule of thumb if you’re not familiar with wrestling shoes is to look for a pair that doesn’t give you sticker shock - you can always step up to a more advanced shoe as you get more experience and learn about the features that are important to you.

How do they fit?

Personal preference is a big factor here, but in general you want to choose a pair that is a little more snug than a typical athletic shoe. As you’re wrestling and looking for traction on the mat, you don’t want your foot to move much inside the shoe. The different shoe manufacturers have different guidelines for how to choose a wrestling shoe as compared to a typical tennis or athletic sneakers as follows: 

  • Adidas - One half size larger than your normal size
  • Asics - One half size larger than your normal size
  • Nike - One full size larger than your normal size

Wrestling shoes are lighter than typical shoes and are designed to have a more “sock-like” fit than tennis shoes. This ensures more flexibility and mobility on the mat, while still providing protection for your ankles, toes, and toenails. They won’t have as much cushioning or “shock absorption” in the footbed as a normal pair.

Men’s vs. Women’s Wrestling Shoes

There aren’t men’s or women’s wrestling shoes, they are all designed to be unisex. Some colors are more ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ but they don’t differentiate in fit or features. When shopping for wrestling shoes for girls, you’ll want to go down between one full size and a size and a half to get the correct size. So if you typically wear a 7 in women’s shoes, you’d want to start with a size 5.5 or a six.

Kids Wrestling Shoe Sizes

Not all styles are available in youth. Some will include “youth” in the name of the shoe, and some styles will just offer sizes for toddlers and children - these can be a little confusing, the range of kids wrestling shoe sizes from smallest to largest is as follows:

  • K10 (or 10K)
  • K11 (or 11K)
  • K12 (or 12K)
  • K13 (or 13K)
  • 1
  • 1.5
  • 2
  • 2.5
  • 3
  • 3.5
  • 4
  • 4.5

Somewhat contrary to the general sizing guide, we usually recommend sizing up slightly when shopping for kids wrestling shoes simply because their feet grow so quickly and you want them to be able to fit in the shoes for more than a month!

Wide Wrestling Shoes

There aren't any shoes designated as “wide” typically in the world of wrestling. If you have a wider foot, Nike wrestling shoes in general tend to have a wider footbed than the other manufacturers, so starting with a pair of Freeks or Inflicts is probably your best bet.

Shoe Features

When you’re reading the descriptions of wrestling shoes, you’re likely to encounter a lot of lingo and jargon that can be confusing. Here are a few terms that you’re likely to come across and an explanation of them in plain English.

  • Last - A last is simply a form or template made of wood or plastic that has a shape similar to that of a human foot. Manufacturers use these as a model for the shape of the “typical” foot, and you may see references to these in the description of shoes.
  • TPU - Some pairs will reference TPU in the toe or other parts. TPU literally stands for thermoplastic polyurethane - a tough and lightweight type of plastic that is resistant to cracking and abrasion.
  • Split Sole - A split sole shoe has two distinct rubberized sections on the bottom - one under the ball of the foot, and the other under the heel. This provides traction when pushing off of the mat, but still allows for flexibility in the mid part of the foot. Depending on the shoe, you’d be able to fold a split sole shoe almost in half (provided you’re not wearing it at the time!). Compare that with a “unisole” or non-split sole shoe, which has one continuous rubberized sole. These shoes are typically a bit heavier and less flexible, but tend to be longer lasting than a split sole shoe.
  • Lace Garage - this is a fancy term to describe some type of fastening system to keep the shoelaces from flopping around and becoming untied or tangled during a match.
  • Upper - simply refers to the top part of the shoe, usually mentioned in reference to the material used in the construction.
  • Outsole - the outsole is the portion of the shoe that typically comes in contact with the mat when standing - the bottom of the shoe including a small portion that wraps up onto the side of the foot.
  • Midsole - The midsole is the layer in between the upper part of the shoe and the outsole. It provides protection and cushioning for the foot.
  • EVA - You’ll often see a reference to an “EVA Midsole” in shoe descriptions. EVA is ethyl vinyl acetate, quite simply a man-made foam for cushioning.

Should I Wear Socks With Wrestling Shoes?

In short, yes. A good pair of athletic socks will provide an additional layer of cushion for your foot and help to stabilize the fit inside your shoes. And it probably goes without saying, but wearing socks will significantly reduce the stink factor that can be an issue with any wrestling gear.

Caring For Your Shoes

In terms of investment, wrestling shoes represent a significant portion of your gear budget - especially if you’re buying a pair on the high end of the price scale. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your wrestling shoes:

  • Only wear them when wrestling - This is hopefully obvious, but take them off when you’re not practicing or competing. The thinner soles of wrestling shoes are made of less durable material that won’t hold up to walking through the parking lot. Keep another pair of shoes or flip flops in your bag, and switch to them as soon as you get off the mat.
  • Let them dry fully between wears - Moisture is the friend of stinky feet. If your shoes don’t dry out (like if you stuff them in the bottom of your bag for 2 days) you’ll be in for a smelly surprise when you pull them out again. If they start to get the funk, you can sprinkle some baking soda inside, or put a dryer sheet inside when they’re not in use.
  • Wear Socks - See the details above, socks will extend the life of your shoes and prevent blisters.
  • Clean them when needed - Wrestling shoes can be cleaned to extend their lifespan. You can remove the laces and wash them by hand in warm soapy water. For cleaning the body of the shoe, a washcloth and warm water work well. Just get the cloth wet, and rub in a circular motion on the areas that need cleaning. You can add a few drops of dish soap to the water as well if necessary. If you do use soap, make sure to do a final wipe down with a cloth and plain water to remove the soap. Once the shoe and the laces are fully dry, put the laces back in and you’ll be all set.
  • Use Shoe Covers - Shoe Skins or Shoe Covers are rubber “slippers” that pull on over the outside of your shoe. They are sized to be slightly bigger than your shoe so you can walk around without changing your shoes as often.

How many pairs do I need?

If you’re just starting out, one pair of shoes should be plenty - as long as they are not worn to mow the lawn or walk the dog, they’ll last reasonably well through a season of practice and competition. As you get more involved in the sport, you may want to get a second pair to designate as a “competition” shoe - the pair that only gets worn when you’re dominating your opponent on the way to the medal stand. Rotating pairs like that will extend the lifespan as well since they’ll have more time to dry out in between wears.