What’re wrestling shoes?

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Wrestling shoes provide ankle support and traction without restricting movement. They have thin rubber soles that extend up the sides, front, and back of the shoe, and laces that tie tightly to discourage ankle twisting. They also protect against skin diseases and are available in team colors.

Wrestling shoes are a type of specialized footwear designed to be worn while wrestling. Their primary functions are to provide traction and ankle support without inhibiting the flexibility of the wrestler’s feet and ankles. Wrestling shoes are typically shaped like a boot and made from a lightweight, breathable material. Their boot-like shape can be seen in the following photo of a classic style of wrestling shoe.

No movement restrictions

The squatting stances and quick footwork used in wrestling require athletes to have unrestricted range of motion in their lower legs. Thus, wrestler’s shoes are designed to approximate the freedom of movement experienced in bare feet. They typically have highly flexible bodies made from fabrics such as mesh or neoprene.

The soles of wrestling shoes are usually made up of very thin pieces of rubber that provide a small amount of arch support while allowing the feet to move and bend freely. The most important function of the soles is to provide traction so that the wrestler can use their feet to push off as they move across the mat or while executing moves. Because of this, the sole often extends up the sides of the shoe in certain places, as well as the toe and heel. In the video below, you can see how the soles extend up the sides, front, and back of the shoes.

Extended soles allow a wrestler to push their toes out, for example, while lying on the mat instead of just standing. This is important because much of the action during a wrestling match occurs while both wrestlers are on the mat. The following instructional video shows an example of a move for which a wrestler must have good traction in order to push off the mat or “drive” with their feet.

Ankle support

Another important function of wrestling shoes is to provide ankle support, which minimizes the risk of sprained ankles during a match or workout. This support comes from the shape and lacing of the shoes. These shoes generally extend from the ankle down to the lower calf area, which makes them look like thin boots. Some wrestlers prefer to tie their laces a certain way, like the method seen in the video below, because they feel it provides additional ankle support.


The laces run from the midfoot to the top of the wrestling shoe. These laces are tied tightly so that the top of the shoe hugs the lower leg, discouraging the wearer from twisting or overstretching the ankle. Loose ends of shoelaces are typically not allowed during competition, so wrestlers might wrap athletic tape around their shoes to secure the laces. Some wrestling shoes have built-in covers that fold over the laces.
Skin protection

Communicable skin diseases like ringworm can thrive on wrestling mats. This is largely due to the high temperatures on the mat combined with the fact that wrestlers often make physical contact with the mats while sweating. Hence, another benefit of these shoes is their ability to protect the wearer’s feet from skin diseases. By covering the feet and lower legs, the shoes act as a shield between the wrestler and the mat.

Finding shoes
Popular wrestling shoes are widely available at online retailers and specialty sporting goods stores. Wrestlers who aren’t sure what type of shoes to purchase should consult their trainers or instructors, who can provide advice on which shoes might best suit their needs. In some cases, wrestlers may be required to purchase shoes in their team colors to provide an appearance of uniformity among team members.

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