A Guide to Boxing Shoes that Stomp Out Competitors
You want boxing shoes that can last throughout the rounds. Here's a guide to choosing the best shoes for the match that'll take you to victory.
You've been punching up your workout these days by including boxing in your regimen. Except you're starting to suspect your running sneakers just aren't going to cut it in the ring. And you're wondering whether boxing shoes are a worthwhile investment.
Which is good news for you, because there are plenty of resources to help you figure out whether you need shoes (spoilers: you do) and what you should be looking for. Let's break it down.
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What are Boxing Shoes?
First, the most basic question of all: what are boxing shoes?
As you've probably guessed, they're definitely not running shoes. And before you can ask: no, you shouldn't be training in other shoes.
Think about the nature of boxing.
Boxers are light on their feet. They need to move quickly, get their balance quickly and pivot quickly.
Which means they need a shoe designed for immediate contact with the ground (rather than absorbing shock like running shoes) that will also protect their ankles.
Boxing shoes are made from years of sports expertise to offer the perfect marriage of mobility and support.
Why Train in Boxing Shoes?
But for those who still need convincing, there are a number of specific technical reasons why you shouldn't be stepping into the ring in anything else.
These have to do with what the shoes are made for. Wrestling shoes are made for wrestling, soccer shoes are made for soccer, these shoes are made for boxing.
You want a sole that will give you a good grip without gluing you to the ground.
Boxing shoes are made using a thin rubber sole to give you the best of both. Plus, the tread will make sure that you won't be sliding around the mat, no matter how sweating it gets during training.
Another plus: many soles don't have arches like typical exercise shoes. It might not sound like a plus if you're all for arch support, but it's actually a benefit when you realize your shoes will have more surface area to grip the mat with.
Let's be honest here.
You're going to sweat. A lot.
And that's an issue if you need to be on your toes and changing directions quickly.
That's why fighting shoes are designed to be breathable. They're highly permeable, which means sweat will evaporate off your feet quickly.
And while this makes them impractical for running from your car to the gym in the rain (nothing like spending an hour with wet feet) this is a huge benefit in the ring cooler and drier.
Both of which are a big deal when you need to worry about the person trying to punch you and not whether your feet are sliding around in your shoes.
Alright, to be perfectly honest, a great pair of ring shoes has to strike the right balance.
Because on the one hand, you need to be able to move, which means it's helpful to have a range of motion in your ankles.
On the other hand, if you have too much range of motion, you're going to twist an ankle.
Boxing shoes come in a range from high-top to low-top. High-tops offer the most support for your ankles, while low-tops offer the most mobility. You'll need to assess your boxing style to determine what shoe you need.
Features of Good Boxing Shoes
What should you be looking for in a great pair of boxing shoes?
Above all, they should allow you to move in the ring with more speed and power. Real, well-fitted shoes make a noticeable difference in performance -- just look at a newbie boxer in regular athletic shoes versus proper ring shoes.
You'll be able to feel the difference, but it's easiest if you judge a shoe based on the standards you need to perform in the sport. Here are five key factors to look for in your shoes.
Grip and Pivot
If you can't grip and pivot, you won't make much progress as a boxer.
Seriously, this is central to boxing -- you need a shoe that keeps your feet from sliding when you transfer weight while allowing you to pivot in a hurry (without twisting your ankle in the process).
Non-boxing shoes can make pivoting especially awkward because of how the front of the shoe is designed combined with the grip. Even if you can get the right grip in a non-boxing shoe, the front of the shoe just isn't made with pivoting in mind.
How much grip you need comes down to personal preference. Some boxers prefer a shoe with more grip that makes pivoting harder, while others will compensate for less grip because it makes pivoting easier.
Weight and Thickness
A boxer's best friend is agility. And boxing shoes reflect that.
The easiest thing to remember is that the thicker and heavier the material of the shoe is, the less mobility you have. On the other hand, thicker and heavier shoes will also leave you more support. In the end, it comes down to what would best suit your boxing style.
Some boxers say you should feel almost naked in the ring and the shoe should fit like a sock. Others prefer to work with a heavier shoe so that they know their ankles are protected.
Soles are, surprisingly, the second most important feature in boxing shoes.
See, the construction of the sole will change how you balance and throw punches. It has to do with the connection to the ground - most athletic shoes create a disconnect between your foot and the ground to absorb shock, which is bad news for a boxer.
Check how you're standing in a new pair of shoes. You should feel balanced at all times, and the shoes shouldn't be forcing your feet outward or inward.
You should also check the thickness of the sole. Most non-boxing shoes have a thicker sole, and some boxer prefer this because the extra support makes them feel more powerful.
A word to the wise, though -- a thinner sole will force your feet to work a little harder. You get used to it quickly, but it comes down to preference.
A cheap shoe is not synonymous with a good shoe.
Your shoes are going to get some wear and tear if you're a regular fighter (and if you're investing in boxing shoes, you probably are). You want your shoes to last a while.
A top name-brand shoe will usually do you well here, but the easiest place to look for quality is the sole. It should be constructed well, and the sole shouldn't look it will peel off once the shoe starts showing its age.
Comfort and Width
As a rule, fighting shoes will fit like normal shoes. A lot of it boils down to personal preference.
The easiest way to cross brands and materials off your list is to try on your friend's shoes and see what you think of them.
You should be paying a lot of attention to width -- if a shoe pinches your feet when you're just standing around, it's definitely going to pinch them when you're fighting. On the other hand, you don't want your foot sliding around either, because it will make you lose your balance.
Factors to Consider When Trying on Shoes
You've found the right store. And you're trying on boxing shoes.
Except you're not quite sure what you're supposed to be looking for.
Which is kind of an issue.
The truth of the matter is that you're probably making the process harder for yourself than it needs to be. Fighting shoes are a lot like normal shoes, and boxing specifics aside, you'll be assessing the shoe on a lot of the same standards.
So when you sit down to test a shoe, here are four things to keep in mind.
How should a boxing shoe fit your foot?
As a rule, it should fit a lot like a regular shoe.
It should be snug without squeezing your foot or leaving room to slide around. In other words, it should be comfortable -- not too tight or too loose.
The key here is to find a shoe that leaves you feeling light on your feet, whatever that means to you. Your shoes should help you fight stronger, not distract you from the fight in front of you.
How much support you get, as we've said, depends on whether they're high- or low-top, have a thicker or thinner sole, and how heavy they are. All boxers will argue that their way is best, but ultimately, what kind of shoe you get depends on your preference and boxing style.
Then, there's the next most important factor: sizing.
However, you should keep in mind that, like any other type of shoe, different brands have their own sizing guidelines.
Men, you're in luck -- most manufacturers will stick to standard sizing. Women, take a deep breath and sigh it out, because, as per usual, sizing can get weird.
When you're trying on shoes, review the sizing chart for the brand in question. If you can, it's always best to go into a store and try on the shoes in person so you can get a real sense of what they feel like.
They're designed with boxing in mind -- in other words, lightness.
Don't be surprised if you try on shoes only to find they're lighter than you expect. As a rule, boxing shoes are lighter than other types of athletic shoes to make it easier for the boxer to be light on their feet.
How heavy the pair of shoes should be is up to the boxer wearing them. The heavier the shoe, the more stability and support you get out of them. The lighter the shoe, the more mobility you'll have.
Figure out what best suits your style -- and what you're most likely to be comfortable in.
We couldn't get through it without talking about the business end of things (and no, it's not the right hook).
Like we said, boxing shoes are comparable to regular athletic shoes in a couple of ways. Pricing is one of them, so don't be surprised if you have to drop what you would normally spend on a pair of running shoes.
What you spend is up to your budget and preference. Quality often goes hand in hand with material and pricing, though, so make sure you buy shoes that will last. Otherwise, you're not saving any money by replacing your shoes every year.
Find the Shoes that Work for You
You need shoes. We've got the shoe knowledge to make sure you get the right ones.
Isn't it nice when things just work out like that?