Adidas, Asics, or Nike what is your favorite brand of wrestling shoes?
What is your favorite shoe in that brand?
A better question: Does it really matter?
I had my favorite wrestling shoes as I mentioned in Wrestling with Your Destiny. The Smith Elite Internationals as well as the Sydney 2000s. I actually sought out my friend Colin Smith’s Sydney 2000s for the final matches of my career.
During my wrestling career, my wrestling shoes did matter, even if only a little. Today, being three plus years removed from the scene, I believe they are insignificant. A key factor is that I don’t wear any shoes when I am grappling and practicing Jiu Jitsu. What is or isn’t on your feet makes no difference.
I always wore Adidas shoes throughout my career. Would I have not won nationals if I wore Asics or Nike? No, I still would have accomplished my goal. A lot of wrestlers feel that way as well. They know that ultimately their wrestling shoes will not make a difference; so why are we all so particular about what shoes we wear?
It has to do with two factors. One: familiarity. If my first shoes were Asics, I, in all probability, would have stuck with them my entire career, as my teammate Mike Martini did. He swore by his Asics wrestling shoes. If he tried on a pair of Adidas shoes, I admit, at first he would have felt uncomfortable. But just like anything else, if he continued to wear them day after day until he broke them in and got used to them, it would have been fine. He still would have been a two-time New England champion if he wore a different brand wrestling shoes. This is where the second factor ties into the first: superstition.
Superstitions in sports have a storied history. From wrestling to baseball and all the sports in between there are superstitious competitors. Wrestlers stick with their shoes because they are afraid if they don’t, they will lose. This is a superstition that is not needed and I realize this now, even if I didn’t when I competed.
I am not saying there are no differences between wrestling shoes.
What I am saying is that if you are the best wrestler in the state, country or world you will still be regardless of if you have the oldest piece of garbage shoes or the newest high-tech lightweight wrestling shoes. Let’s say we have the two best wrestlers in the world wrestling each other. The #1 guy has on the worst wrestling shoes possible, the #2 guy has on the best wrestling shoes available. In this situation, I would still place my money on the #1 guy, simply because being a wrestler is all about overcoming obstacles. If the shoes were a nuisance for the top wrestler in the world, he would be able to put that aside and get the job done anyway. You can do that as well.
In high school a former teammate of mine used to check his opponent’s wrestling shoes before each match. If they look good and expensive he assumed the wrestler in them was good. I can clearly remember him saying, “He must be good, look at those shoes.” It was ridiculous then and he knew it, and it’s even more ridiculous now.
Wrestling shoes do give some people a fake shot of confidence. They buy the best shoes and think they are automatically a good wrestler. But shoes, kneepads, headbands or warm-ups don’t make you a good wrestler. As I said before there are no shortcuts in wrestling. The only way to become a great wrestler is to put in the mat time and work extremely hard at it.