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Wrestling Gear: What You Need to Compete

Kid with wrestling equipment

There are tons of different wrestling products on the market today. For a new wrestler, it can be difficult to determine what is actually needed to compete. In reality, there are only a few simple items that are required. And depending on the style of wrestling and type of competition, the list of such items can vary.

This guide will inform you of what you will need for the first match, and save you time and money in the long run.

The Necessities

Wrestling Singlets

The singlet is the official uniform for competition in all styles of the sport. It is a tight-fitting, one-piece garment, usually made of nylon and/or lycra, that resembles a cross between a tank top and bicycle shorts. Typically, singlets will cost anywhere from $30 to $80. There are a few notable differences between the internationally regulated singlet used for freestyle and Greco-Roman, and the folkstyle-regulated singlet used for scholastic and collegiate competition. Men's and women's singlets are made differently as well.

Here are the differences to know before making a purchase:

International Uniforms

Freestyle and Greco-Roman singlets are sometimes cut slightly lower at the chest, armpits, and back in comparison to folkstyle. However, in recent years the trend has moved to a higher-cut singlet.

In competition you will typically be required to have one red singlet and one blue singlet. For youth competitions and local competitions, you may be allowed to use a reversible singlet with a red side and a blue side. For higher-level competitions – regionals, nationals, and beyond – you will be required to have two separate singlets.

Scholastic and Collegiate Uniforms

A higher-cut singlet is required for competitions at these levels. These singlets are also used to represent schools. Because of that, they can be practically any color, and can include logos of various team mascots and designs. Typically, your singlet is supplied to you by your team and you will not need to go out of your way to purchase one.


This piece of equipment is required in all folkstyle competitions in the United States. It is also required for some youth competitions in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling. Good headgear is definitely beneficial for younger wrestlers, as it helps prevent cauliflower ear and other types of head and ear-related injuries.

Headgear typically costs between $20 and $30, and comes in both youth and adult sizes. It can be adjusted to fit the size of each person’s head. For the most part, there are only a few different styles to choose from:

  • Those made of a soft material and ideal for beginner wrestlers.
  • Those with hard plastic shells and great for the more experienced, competitive wrestlers. This type may not be allowed in international competition.

College wrestlers wearing protective gear

If purchasing headgear online, be sure to check the user ratings or comments on each product, as the best-selling headgear is usually of the best quality.

Wrestling Shoes

Shoes are the most important item you will need when stepping on the mat. Lower-level youth competitions sometimes allow wrestlers to compete in regular gym shoes. In order to enter a sanctioned event, however, you will need official wrestling shoes. Wrestling shoes cost anywhere from $30 to $130.

For more information on purchasing shoes, check out the guide titled Buying Wrestling Shoes.

A Few Extras

Aside from the previous list of necessities, there are a few items that may also be required in some styles of the sport. If these items aren’t required, they could still make your competitive experience more convenient.

  • Head Covering: In folkstyle, wrestlers with long hair are required to wear a head covering underneath their headgear in order to keep their hair from getting in the way. This is not required at the international level, but it could make competition more convenient.
  • Blood Rag: In international competition, each wrestler is required to keep a cloth handkerchief underneath their singlet in the case where they would have to clean up blood.
  • Mouth Guard: In scholastic competition, wrestlers with braces on their teeth are required to use a mouth piece to prevent cuts and other injuries to the mouth.
  • Lace Covers: In all styles, wrestlers are required to secure their laces to prevent them from becoming untied. Some competitors use athletic tape to meet this requirement. However, a lace cover may be more convenient. Many of the newer models of wrestling shoes come equipped with a built-in lace cover, but these can also be purchased separately.

Stay Up to Date

Knowing the uniform requirements of the style in which you compete is extremely important. You should figure out all the details before purchasing any new piece of equipment.

Check the uniform rules of the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) for freestyle and Greco, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) for Scholastic folkstyle, and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for Collegiate folkstyle. These governing bodies all have different rules regarding styles and types of gear. The requirements may change from year to year, so make sure your new items are suitable for any upcoming competitions.

You might find some of these items at a local sporting goods store, but for the best quality and variety of wrestling gear, buy online. When purchasing, look over the description of each item, as it could include information about regulations of certain levels of the sport. Educating yourself on what you need before purchasing could save you a lot of time and money. It could also allow you to find the equipment that fits your needs.

Knowing exactly what you need for wrestling competition is a little confusing for new wrestlers. This guide breaks down exactly what you will need as well as some extras.
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