Disclaimer:Shoe-crazed editors choose every shoe we review. We are reader supported and may earn money if you buy from links in our article. We never accept free or promotional products.

Wrestling Shoes

A Complete Guide to Wrestling Shoe Design and Features

When it comes to combat sports, equipment becomes far more crucial than in other situations, as there is a much higher potential for injury when two athletes are sparring. Of course, the very objective of actual combat is to wound your adversary, but this can accidentally occur in combat sports as well.

It is for this reason that you will always want to be sure that you have the right equipment to perform your sport, whether that be a set of boxing gloves or the right pair of wrestling shoes. In fact, these shoes are going to be the topic of today’s article, as we’re going to cover how they are designed.

Wrestling shoes are one of the most crucial pieces of gear that wrestlers need to compete for a wide variety of reasons, and we’ll be looking at all of them in this guide. By the end of this article, you’ll be an expert on wrestling shoes, and it may even help you choose the right pair for your needs.

What are Wrestling Shoes?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty details about these shoes, let's cover what they are in the first place. While it is obvious that wrestling shoes that are meant to be used by wrestlers while practicing their sport, what exactly differentiates a wrestling shoe from other kinds of footwear? 

Wrestling shoes are exceptionally thin exercise shoes that are primarily meant to protect the feet of the wrestler during the competition, though they also provide crucial support. Wrestling shoes were initially made in the 1970s, and they have come a long way since their inception, so let's get started.

Fundamental Criteria in Wrestling Shoes

There are a few characteristics that are preferred in wrestling shoe design as they will make it easier for you to practice the sport. Durability, low weight, flexibility, support, and grip are all essential in wrestling shoes, and many of their features are meant to accentuate these advantages.

Low Weight

Lighter wrestling shoes are always preferable because footwork is one of the critical parts of becoming the best wrestler possible. If your shoes are too heavy, they will weigh down your feet and make you less agile. While raw strength is also necessary, you won't want to trip over your own feet.

Of course, shaving half a gram of weight off of your shoes won’t make a massive difference, but there is no reason to be competing in bulky shoes. While there is a slight tradeoff in foot protection for lightweight shoes, it is typically worth the improved performance.

Foot Protection

One of the main reasons that wrestlers even wear shoes is to keep their feet from ending up injured over the course of a bout. Wrestling is an intense sport, and you can sometimes get hurt in the heat of the moment without even realizing it, especially when you and your opponent are constantly moving your feet.

Broken nails, stamped feet, and torn ligaments are all possible foot injuries for wrestlers, and a simple shoe provides enough protection to keep them from getting injured. While foot injuries may not be too severe, there is no reason to risk unnecessary pain and discomfort, not to mention infection.


Wrestling shoes are also meant to be much more flexible than other kinds of athletic shoes since you will often be on the balls of your feet. Of course, some wrestlers prefer more flexibility in their stance while others will stay more rigid, and they'll opt for shoes with more grip instead.

How flexible your wrestling shoe depends on the design of the sole, and there are two main types that you’ll come across: split sole and unisole. We’ll take a look at the differences between these two kinds of shoes in further detail shortly.


Of course, ankle support is also crucial, as with any other shoe that you would use in a sport. More ankle support reduces the chance of injury as the shoe will be able to brace you more effectively. Ankle injuries are somewhat common in wrestling, especially when you use more footwork in your style.

Wrestling shoes almost always have a high top design so that they can keep your ankle braced while you spar. Of course, a high top doesn’t automatically mean that a wrestling shoe will provide you with plenty of support, you will have to take a closer look at how the top of the shoe is designed.

Sole Type

There are two kinds of soles available for wrestling shoes, with the first option being split soles. As you would imagine, a split sole is one that is separated in the middle of the shoe. This results in a smaller contact surface with the ground, resulting in reduced grip but dramatically improving the shoe's flexibility.

On the other hand, you can opt for wrestling shoes that feature a unisole, which is a more traditional design where it extends the length of the foot. Unisole wrestling shoes will keep you from sliding too much, as they will have a larger contact patch with the ground. 


Various brands will have different wrestling shoe design philosophies, meaning that you may grow more attached to their type of footwear for the sport. Most of the time, the first thing you should consider when trying out a new brand is their sizing, as there may be different standards.

For example, some companies will recommend choosing a size that is larger than your everyday shoes while others will only fit if you get a smaller size. Keep in mind that some companies may have several wrestling shoe lines that are made for athletes who use different stances and styles.


Wrestling shoe design is a more complicated matter than just keeping the competitors’ feet protected, and we hope that we have been able to give you a glimpse into that world. Thank you for taking the time to read through our guide.


Image Sources

Leave a Comment