The Complete Guide To Wrestling Gears And Shoes

Written by Zoey Lints and Rebecca Li

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    With the help of all the SOW members

    Some of the essential wrestling gears include wrestling shoes, running shoes, wrestling socks, knee pads, mouth guard, headgear, hair cap and sports bras. In this blog, we go over each type of wrestling gear and give some brand suggestions that our writers recommend. Note that your team might have some team specific gears with your school’s logo that may be available, but it also might be a little more pricey. 

    Wrestling Shoes:

    There are a variety of wrestling shoes out there. It comes down to the style you like and how it feels on your foot. Legend has it that if you wear mat flexes, you’re a noob. I recommend using the website “eastbay.”

    Some of our SOW members favorites include Rudis, ASICS and Nike Freeks. Whatever you choose, make sure the shoe fits you well, bends and grips nicely on the mat. Most importantly, pick a pair of wrestling shoes that will help your performance and give you that boost of confidence. 

    Looking for a pair of wrestling shoes specifically designed for girls wrestlers? These Defiant 1 shoes from Yes! Athletics is perfect for any girl wrestlers who are seeking more than the traditional monochromatic shoes. The shoes come with a nice “shoelace garage” to park the shoe laces because it’s important that they don’t get untied in the middle of your matches. They are also quite flexible and fit perfectly. 

    Running Shoes:

    When you’re cutting weight and when your coaches ask you to run, you will need a pair of running shoes. Make sure they fit you well before you confirm the purchase. These shoes do not have to be super expensive or fancy. They just have to be something that you can throw on and burn calories with. As long as you feel comfortable running with them and are not worried about keeping it in pristine condition, you can totally run in your sneakers that you already have.  

    Wrestling Socks: 

    Some things to note:

    – Please do not wear ankle socks 

    We know that it may be more convenient to wear ankle socks for normal day to day walking or with sneakers, but with wrestling shoes, it is different. Since wrestling shoes are a lot higher than your normal vans or adidas shoes, it pairs best with longer socks. If you wear ankle socks, the rubbing of the wrestling shoes could cause irritations near your ankles.

    – Name brands are a safe bet

    Adidas and Nike socks are always a solid choice for wrestling socks. It doesn’t have to be those brands specifically though. Make sure that it breaths and doesn’t cause any discomforts. I have learned the lesson the hard way after buying a random set of socks from Walmart that ended up giving me blisters after practice.

    – Socks with fun designs and colors allow you to express yourself 

    Wrestling mart is known to have wrestling socks that are super creative and unique to wrestlers. There are many designs and colors out there that you can mix and match your stylistic choices. They have a discount for buying more than five or ten pairs of socks at once. Also, wrestling mart usually has some good deals during Black Friday or Christmas season.  

    -Remember to make sure you will be comfortable in them and are able to perform your best

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      Knee Pads/leg sleeve: 

      There are many ways to protect your knees: single knee pad, double knee pad, leg sleeves or none at all. Make sure whatever kneepads you buy will be well suited for you, and make sure they don’t interfere with your performance. 

      If you have bad knees, you should probably have two knee pads to have some extra protection. With that being said, word has it that those who wear two knee pads are often automatically viewed as easy to beat. Otherwise, a leg sleeve on the dominate leg (the leg that you shoot with the most) gives the perfect protection for when it reaches the mat. 

      When I was buying knee pads at my local sporting gear store, I was faced with the dilemma of whether to buy the thinner sleeves made of gel, or take the padded foam ones that provide more protection for the knees but are significantly more bulky. 

      Although I ended up purchasing the gel ones my first time, I now use a much more bulky knee pad in practice and a thinner, gel one for competitions. Yes, the bulkier ones tend to fall off and I have to constantly adjust it, but the question of whether the padding is worth the extra size is a question for you to answer.  


      If you wear braces, mouthguards are essentially mandatory. But even for those who do not wear braces, a mouthguard still can be useful to prevent damage to your teeth when you wrestle. Although this is not a necessity for everyone, you may want a mouth guard to be safe so your teeth won’t get knocked out. 

      A mouthguard can also prevent other things, like biting your own tongue or lip when wrestling. The downside of wearing a mouthguard is that it may be harder for you to breathe with one in. If you want to wear a mouthguard to competition, it’s a good idea to wear them to practice so you can get used to the feeling of wrestling with something in your mouth. Also, you can show your mouthguard to the trainers or ref during skin checks if you decide to wear them. 


      Headgear is a must-have for wrestling tournaments and dual meets. However, they are not required for most practices and some off-season or non-official tournaments. Of course, they are not required at the collegiate levels, but you won’t be able to start a high school folkstyle match without one.

      Headgears may feel uncomfortable at first, but rest assured that they are critical in preventing damage to the ears. Because your ears are one of the weaker parts of your head, there is a chance that you may get hit and start to have swelling in your ears. This phenomenon is known as cauliflower ears. If you notice this happening after a hard blow on your head, please let your parents and coach know so you can get it checked out.

      There are also two types of headgear: with chin straps or chin cups. Some of us prefer chin cups because it secures the headgear better than the straps, while others are just fine with straps. So, the choice is completely yours. Our writers think that Cliff Keen, Asics, Adidas, and other plastic headgears are usually good quality and last a long time. 

      Hair Cap:

      Some districts require long hair to be worn in a hair cap. Others let you have braids or a bun in. After confirming your state or district’s requirement, you should also consider the type of headgear that you have. The perfect hair caps are the ones that attach best to your headgear. 

      One of the SOW wrestlers recommended Adidas hair caps that goes under her headgear. Make sure that your hair cap secures with your headgear. There are usually two side pockets on the hair caps that you can put your headgear straps through. 

      I had an experience where I was in the middle of my wrestling match. I got in on a leg but my opponent pushed my head so that the hair cap perfectly covered both of my eyes. Because of that, I couldn’t see anything, yet at the same time, I also couldn’t let go of my opponent’s legs to push my hair cap back up. Lastly, I was saved by the end of the period but I’d say it’s an experience that I prefer not to go through again.


      Sports Bra: 

      The sisterhood of wrestlers agree that non-padded, high support sports bras are the way to go. Some of our writer’s favorite brands are Adidas, Nike, and Under Armor. This may be a good time to stock up on some sports bras or have laundries washed and dried everyday because you’ll be expected to sweat after every run, practice, and tournament.  

      You need to wear sports bras when wrestling to be movable and be able to drill freely. When at a tournament or match it is your choice what to wear under your singlet. Some people prefer a sports bra, while others also prefer a t-shirt. If you decide to wear a shirt underneath, it should be in a solid color. 

      Hey! We get it that you want to be prepared for your first practice or match. You don’t have to get everything on the list since these are just suggestions. Wrestling shoes and a comfortable workout outfit are the only essentials for practice. Check out “What to Wear to Wrestling Practice” for the best types of shirts and legging. 

      *Some links are affiliated. At no cost to you, SOW gets a small percentage of your purchase to keep our website running. 

      2 thoughts on “The Complete Guide To Wrestling Gears And Shoes”

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