Wrestling is one of the oldest sports that mankind has ever engaged in, but it enjoyed a considerable surge in popularity in the second half of the twentieth century, with televised wrestling shows and ultimate fighting competitions encouraging people to try their own hand at the ancient art. Although a large part of the art of wrestling lies in expert hand, arm and back work, the most important piece of equipment is the right pair of wrestling shoes. There are hundreds of styles to choose from, and new advances in sports technology continue to make these specialist shoes more efficient and comfortable each year.
Nowadays many of the biggest names in sports footwear have turned their expertise to wrestling shoes, and top-name branded shoes are widely available in good sports shops and at online wrestling-gear websites. As with any sports shoes that are specially designed for an activity, it is important that you choose a pair that suits your needs and that you find extremely comfortable. Wearing the wrong or ill-fitting shoes can only affect your performance adversely.
The essential components of wrestling shoes are the rubber soles and ankle-high supports. The soles need to give an excellent grip and help the wrestler stand his ground when being attacked by his opponent. The best wrestling shoes have soles that come up higher around the sides than normal shoes, since wrestling often involves pushing yourself off from the side of the foot, and lower soles could cause the wrestler to fall over.
That said, wrestling shoes are by no means chunky or heavy. By necessity they are designed specially for the surface of the wrestling ring, and need only to provide grip and support, all of which means they can be made very lightweight. Some modern styles have developed this lightweight specification yet further by adopting a very thin single-layer mesh upper, and reducing the padding around the ankle to the bare minimum, thus giving the shoes a sort of foot-glove level of comfort. Maximum breathability is achieved through the use of thin materials.
Traditionally, wrestling shoes have laces going right up to the top of the ankle, but more and more alternative fastenings are starting to appear. Zippers are practical and quick to open and close, as well as preventing any accidents caused by loose laces. In some competitions there is a stipulation that laces need to be covered, to avoid just this sort of incident, and some shoe manufacturers have provided for this by designing wrestling shoes with leather covers over the lace area.