How Should Wrestling Shoes Fit? (And How to Size Them)

How Should Wrestling Shoes Fit? (And How to Size Them)

Wrestling is a martial art that has a very specific attire and gives very little liberty to the fighters. You have several options, but they are very limited and there are restrictions in place when it comes to any additional equipment. A very important thing to know is that wrestling gear is generally not interchangeable, so you cannot use gear from other martial arts in wrestling. It is – sadly or luckily – very specific and very specialised. Today, we are going to talk about wrestling shoes, i.e. a very important and practical thing connected with their usage, or – to be more precise – how they should fit you once you’ve decided to wear them.

When you put wrestling shoes on, they have to fit perfectly, meaning that you have to feel them as if they were not there. In order to size wrestling shoes, you have to measure your foot and buy the shoes of the corresponding size.

Easier said than done, ha? Don’t worry. In this article, we will go through every single step, tip, and trick you should know to find the perfect wrestling shoes for you. So, let’s get into the topic.

What Are Wrestling Shoes?

Simply put, wrestling shoes are specially designed shoes used in wrestling, both in practice and in actual fights. They are designed to imitate a bare foot, meaning that they are very light, provide more traction and more ankle support.

Such a design is chosen to protect both the wearer – because their ankles are better protected – and the opponent – because it decreases the risk of injuries potentially caused by nails. 

Because of that, wrestling shoes have a hight top design and cushioning on the inner side. 

What to Look for When Buying Wrestling Shoes?

When buying wrestling shoes, which are very specific, there are several things you need to consider beforehand. Namely, wrestling shoes need to leave the impression as if they weren’t even there, meaning that you have to find a pair that feels extremely comfortable for you in a fight. They mustn’t hinder you in any way; if they do, you bought the wrong pair. 

The first things you need to consider are flexibility and traction. Due to a lot of movements in wrestling, the shoes need to be very flexible and provide enough traction on the map to enable you to move naturally in the arena. Due to these movements, you put a lot of pressure on your ankles, which is why you need good ankle support. Yes, wrestling shoes are equipped with ankle support, but you need to find a good pair that provides enough support for one of the most used parts of your body in wrestling. 

When it comes to size, wrestling shoes are usually smaller than your standard sneakers of the same size. That means that you should always pick a shoe that is half a size or a whole size larger, because they will fit better. Also, you have to find a pair that fits the shape of your foot, which means that the size and the shape of a shoes is very important. 

As for the cost, wrestling shoes can cost from around $50 to more than $200, meaning that you have a very large price range to chose from. Price usually means quality, so the more expensive ones are usually somewhat better, although the difference in quality might not the that big. In this aspect, you will also have to consider your own abilities when it comes to wrestling.

If you’re a beginner, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on wrestling shoes, because the more expensive ones usually come with different additions that might feel unnatural to the foot of a beginner. The cheaper ones are simpler and thus a more suitable option for a beginner. 

What Qualities Should Wrestling Shoes Have?

When it comes to the qualities of a wrestling shoe, you will have to consider four things. They are:

  1. How the shoe fits – this is the most important aspect of a wrestling shoe and we cannot stress that enough. They are, we repeat, very specific and when you put them on, they have to fit perfectly, meaning that you have to feel them as if they were not there. This by all means a relatively difficult task, which is why you might have to try several pairs before deciding on the one you want to buy. 
  2. Durability – although you won’t wear one pair your whole life, you’ll want to buy that you won’t need to replace in a couple of months. Durability is a relative thing when it comes to wrestling shoes, so you’ll have to either browse the web for certain information on a shoe’s durability, or ask around the store for precise information. 
  3. Grip – this aspect tells you how the shoe fits on the fighting mat. This is very tough to check without testing it, so you’ll probably have to check with the retailer on how to do it. The important thing is that your feet feel natural on the mat, that there is enough traction and that they don’t hinder your fight. 
  4. Flexibility – although the least important aspect (because you can always make the shoe more flexible later on), flexibility is something you should always look for. Certainly, every new piece of footwear will be stiff in the beginning, but they’ll become more flexible as you wear them. 

How to Size a Wrestling Shoe?

Since wrestling shoes are rather specific, it might be a problem to find the perfect size. The usual sizes as presented by the retailers and their charts might not tell you much, because a wrestling shoe has to perfectly adapt to the size and shape of your feet. In order to find a perfect pair, you’ll have to measure your foot completely to know the exact numbers. You can do the measurements yourself and give them to a retailer, or you can have them do it in the store and then pick the optimal size for you. 

Here is a printable guide that will help you size your foot.

How Should a Wrestling Shoe Fit?

Answering this question concerns three basic elements – the tightness, the soles and the ankle support. Let us see how each of them answers the question above. 

Tightness is connected to the safety of the shoes, i.e. the prevention of injuries. This depends on the level of your knowledge and your experience. Namely, most professionals will wear their shoes tight, because it gives a better fit and it feels more natural for an experienced fighter. Beginners, on the other hand, will probably wear their shoes loosely, in order for their feet to get adapted to the footwear. 

The soles can be single or split, depending on the model, and are made out of thin rubber. Which type of sole you’ll chose depends on your preferences – single-sole models provide better grip, while split models provide more flexibility, meaning it’s all down to what you want. The important thing is that the soles provide enough fraction to allow you to move normally on the fighting mat. This is why you should always look for a pair that feels sticky and stiff. 

The last part is the support they provide for your ankles. We’ve already talked about that a bit, which is why we can only reiterate that the ankles are under a lot of pressure during a fight, which is why you need good and firm support to fully protect them from serious and long-term harm. 

Does the Brand of Wrestling Shoes Matter?

When it comes to wrestling shoes, brands really aren’t that important. You’ll want a shoe that fits you perfectly and that will enable you to fight without any problems, which is why you shouldn’t look for a brand per se.

Each brand has its own specifics and although one brand might be nominally better than the other, the “better brand” might not be a good solution for you. So, pick a quality brand, but don’t be a slave to fashion and pick the brand that fits you better, despite it not being the best and most famous one.


On a final note, we have to reiterate that a good pair of wrestling shoes is essential. So, in order to get that good pair, you’ll have to find a pair that fits you perfectly. We have shown you how to do it, so we hope you’ll find out advice helpful at one point.

Once you buy your wrestling shoes, you will have to break them in so they fit perfectly to your feet. Take a look at the article we wrote with 8 tips to break in your wrestling shoes.

That’s it for today. Stay tuned for more and see you next time!

Gianluca Martucci, Gianluca Martucci is a personal trainer and an athletic trainer.
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Gianluca Martucci

Gianluca Martucci is a personal trainer and an athletic trainer. Since he was a kid, he has been a big fan of Martial Arts and Combat Sports: from Wrestling and now MMA to Karate and Kung Fu, for this reason he specialized in workouts for martial artistis. Our testing and reviewing method.
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