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Wrestling Singlet Buying Guide

Some teams will provide a singlet as part of the uniform, but in many cases wrestlers need to provide their own singlets for competition. This guide explains some of the different features and types of singlets, and answers some common questions about wrestling singlets for those that are new to the sport.

What is a singlet?  

A singlet is the typical uniform worn by wrestlers. As the name implies, it is a one-piece garment that is designed to be tight fitting so that officials can easily detect body contact with the mat. Some recent rule changes have introduced “two piece singlets” which are essentially a pair of compression shorts and a compression top, but most coaches and wrestlers are still going with a one-piece option.

Singlets are usually constructed of a lycra / spandex blend, and are either made in stock colors (usually red or blue), or decorated with the team colors and logo or another design. Some singlets are reversible, meaning they can be worn inside out to change the color (e.g. from red to blue) for certain types of competitions.

What are the different types of singlets?

Two main categories of singlets are stock singlets vs. custom or sublimated singlets. Stock singlets are made with standard designs and sold by manufacturers like Brute or Cliff Keen. There is a relatively small range of design options, and they tend to be more traditional designs. Custom sublimated singlets are made by different brands and typically feature fully sublimated designs that offer a great deal of flexibility and creativity.

Sublimation is the process of using heat to infuse ink directly into the material, and is far superior to screen printing or heat transfers for decoration. The process creates a product that doesn’t crack, peel, or fade, and will stay looking nice longer. Sublimation also allows for “all over” design as opposed to providing specific regions of the singlet that can be decorated.

Singlet Cuts

The cut of a singlet is mostly a matter of preference. A high-cut wrestling singlet comes up closer to the neck and armpits of the wrestler, providing more coverage. This is the most common type of singlet used today in folkstyle or collegiate wrestling.

A low-cut singlet uses less material, and the neckline comes down to the middle of the chest and much lower beneath the armpits. The back of the singlet features a thinner strip of material that comes up between the shoulder blades. These singlets are most common in freestyle and greco-roman wrestling.

A women’s cut singlet is similar to a high cut singlet, but manufactured with a different profile to provide a more comfortable fit and more coverage for female wrestlers.

What size do I need?

Singlet sizing typically goes by weight - the manufacturers will provide a weight range for each size that they offer. These ranges are designed for “average” body types, so if you are significantly taller, wider, or more muscular than average you may need to go outside the normal range somewhat.

Singlet material will stretch a fair amount, and they are designed to fit snugly.

If you’re buying a singlet for a youth wrestler, you may want to size up to give them room to grow into it.

Singlet Features

You may see references to the following features when reading descriptions of wrestling singlets.

  • Stitching - There are different types of stitching used in singlet construction. Flat-lock double stitching means the material inside the singlet where the seams are is sewn down to lay flat. If the seams are not sewn down they can irritate or chafe the skin underneath.
  • Leg openings - The legs of a singlet have a tendency to ride up when worn, especially when competing. Some singlets have leg grippers inside the bottom of the leg openings that keep the legs in place.
  • Decoration Type - Some singlets have custom sewn in designs, and others are decorated with screen printing or heat press decals. Sublimation is the most durable and good-looking option.
  • Fabric Type - Singlets will typically be a blend of nylon, lycra, and spandex. Consider looking for a singlet that has “4-way stretch” - meaning the fabric will stretch both vertically and horizontally. This not only ensures a more comfortable fit, but prevents “grinning.” Grinning refers to the potential for the fabric to become more see-through when stretched, such as when the wrestler bends over.

What do I wear underneath?

You’re not required to wear anything beneath your singlet, but most wrestlers choose to wear briefs or compression shorts. Boxers are not recommended, the looser fit causes the fabric to bunch up uncomfortably under the tight fitting singlet.

Wrestlers are not typically allowed to wear a t-shirt or other shirt beneath a singlet unless it is necessary for medical or sanitary reasons - usually for excessive acne on the chest or back.

Caring for your singlet

Improper handling or washing can damage your singlet. We put together the following guidelines to help you make the most of your singlet investment.

  • Wash Cold - In general, heat is the enemy of the performance lycra fabric used to construct your singlets. You should wash in cold or warm water, never hot
  • Use Mild Detergent - Use a mild (non-phosphorous) detergent. Harsh chemicals or phosphates can cause bleeding of colors.
  • Hang Dry - Avoid hot dryers, and remove the singlet as quickly as possible from the washing machine, allowing it to drip or hang dry. Don't use metal hangers, they can leave rust marks - go for wooden or plastic.
  • Presoak It - If your singlet is especially dirty or has bloodstains, presoak it in a bucket or plastic container with a little bit of laundry detergent. Soaking anywhere from one hour to overnight will help loosen any stains before washing.
  • Lose the Funk - Let's face it - singlets get stinky. If you have a singlet that has got the funk, add up to a cup of baking soda to your pre-soak, it will go a long way to neutralize odors.
  • No Bleach - Never use chlorine bleach - it can damage the fabric and dull the vibrant colors sublimated into the fabric.
  • Wash Alone - Wrestlers compete alone, and their uniform should be washed that way. Other fabrics (especially those with velcro or other fasteners) can damage the lycra fabric or can transfer lint to the singlet.
  • No Ironing - Hopefully this goes without saying, but don't even think about ironing your singlet.