Do You Wear Shoes in Wrestling?

Wearing the right footwear for training in your sport is very important, and wrestling is no exception. I train in an MMA-oriented gym so I talked to my training partners with wrestling backgrounds to get feedback on how shoes play into wrestling.

Wearing wrestling shoes is required in both training and competitions. Wrestling shoes provide increased grip and traction which help with executing wrestling techniques and movements. They also play a role in ankle support and injury reduction.

Now that we know that wrestling shoes are required for effective training, let’s go into some greater details on the reasons why this is the case and as well as how the norms of training in wrestling shoes change when you integrate wrestling into training for adjacent sports like BJJ and MMA.

Do You Wear Shoes in Wrestling Training?

For wrestling training that is specific to only wrestling as a combat sport, wearing shoes is the norm. This helps to mimic the environment of wrestling tournaments at all levels and athletes need to practice in wrestling shoes to make sure that their skills translate into the competitive environment.

For a starter wrestling shoe, I have been very happy with the quality of these shoes (available on and find them to be durable, comfortable, and a good value.

If you want to know more about what else you would wear alongside your wrestling shoes to wrestling practices check out What Should I Wear to Wrestling Practice?

Do You Wear Socks With Wrestling Shoes?

You should wear socks under your wrestling shoes. Not only does it help to control odor within the shoe it is also more hygienic. In addition, a lot of wrestlers like to wear interesting socks and colorful wrestling shoes as it is a part of the culture of wrestling in many places.

Wearing Wrestling Shoes for Wrestling Training in MMA

Since MMA is performed barefoot, any wrestling training that you do with the goal of competing or building skills for an MMA combat sports setting should be done barefoot. Practicing wrestling techniques in a setting that allows high skill transfer to an MMA environment is key.

Wearing Wrestling Shoes for Wrestling Training in BJJ

Since Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is performed barefoot, wrestling training that you do for the goal of competing or building skills for a BJJ tournament setting should be done barefoot. Any wrestling practices for the purposes of improving jiu-jitsu should be done in this way to maximize skill transfer into BJJ.

Bring Shoes or Flip-Flops to Wear Off the Mats

Separate shoes or flip-flops are essential for athletes to wear off the mats. This helps to keep the mats clean and hygienic and can reduce mat diseases. You don’t want to bring bathroom germs or outside germs onto the mats everyone is getting sweaty and rolling around on.

Benefits of a Wrestling Shoe

Wrestling shoes are light and flexible shoes that aid in wrestling in many capacities. The 3 most prominent benefits are increased grip and traction on the mats, ankle support, and injury reduction.

1. Increased Grip and Traction

Having better grip and traction on the mats is a godsend when you are looking to transfer force and switch directions to take down your opponent or maneuver. Energy transfer is way better when there is higher friction between your feet and the mat.

2. Ankle Support

Providing extra ankle support is helpful when practicing wrestling. It is pretty difficult to roll your ankle or hurt it when you are wearing a well-fitted wrestling shoe. Ankle stability also helps with force transfer since momentum is less likely to be lost in movement in the joint.

3. Injury Reduction

Wrestling shoes do a great job in reducing injury frequencies because the potential for slippage on sweat wrestling mats is pretty high unless you have shoes on that provide a lot of extra grip on the mats. Slipping in a high power output situation can result in strains and injuries.

Do You Wear Shoes in Wrestling Tournaments?

According to International Wrestling Rules that are used in the Olympic Games contestants must wear wrestling shoes. Wrestling tournaments almost exclusively require approved wrestling shoes at all levels.

Final Thoughts

Wrestling shoes are required to compete in wrestling tournaments and to perform well in a wrestling combat sports environment. This changes when wrestling is integrated into other martial arts like jiu-jitsu or MMA.

Training wrestling for BJJ or MMA should be done without footwear in order to mimic the environment in which the wrestling techniques will be used for that particular athlete.

If you are interested in knowing about shoe use in other martial arts take a look at Do You Wear Shoes in Martial Arts?


Hi, I'm Andre and I am the author of this website. I currently train primarily in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but supplement with other grappling martial arts as well as help to coach my kid's blended grappling program.

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