What Equipment Do I Need??

Do I need headgear?  How do you pick out a wrestling shoe?  What's a split sole?  What are lace guards?  Do I need knee pads?  Will my child need a singlet?  

Confused?  Don't worry, here's everything you need to know...


The basics to get started...
If your child is just getting started, you'll need little (to no) gear.  During the trial period (first 2 weeks), you can have them wear shorts, a t-shirt and a tight fitting gym shoe (cross-trainer or running shoe).  Avoid any clothes or shoes with zippers, buttons, snaps or hooks. And have them wear clothes that are more snug than loose.

After the trial period, you will need to get a few things...

Headgear? Yes...
After the trail period, headgear becomes mandatory.  Headgear usually costs $20-40 (depending on what you buy).  We have some basic (but very good) headgear which we'll be selling at early practices.  Headgear doesn't protect the head - it protects the ears.  The sole purpose of headgear is to prevent the start or progression of cauliflower ear.  This is extremely difficult to get at a young age, but you will find most programs require headgear.  Flip through a wrestling gear catalog and you'll find about a dozen different styles , each with their own supposed advantages.  No headgear (despite advertiser's claims) will make any difference when it comes to competition and safety (with the possible exception of fit).  We recommend headgear that fits snug, without a big enough opening on top for your wrestler's head to fit through.  Headgear can slip down over a wrestler's head, possibly covering their eyes during competition, which can be a problem obviously.  To avoid this, stay away from headgear with space between the top and rear straps - and adjust those straps short enough so there is no way it can possibly fit down over the head.  If your wrestler has very long hair, a "hair slicker" may be required.  It's basically like a hair net that's made to work with the headgear.  You may also see headgear with masks or faceguards.  These are rare and - only needed when wrestling with a facial injury (e.g. a broken nose). 

Shoes? Yes...
We would also strongly recommend you either purchase wrestling shoes, or pick up a pair of used shoes during one of our shoe exchanges (held during certain early-season practices).  The used shoes in our inventory are excellent quality, and you'll save significant money as your child will quickly out-grow their shoes.  New wrestling shoes can be expensive primarily because they're not produced in the same quantities as other types of athletic shoes.  The most important job of wrestling shoes are to simply stay on while you're wrestling (regular gym shoes can slip off).  You'll see claims of "lightweight", "split sole", "comfort", "traction", etc.  Similar to headgear, shoes mostly make very little (if any) difference in competition.  Traction can be important, but most shoes have the traction needed.  The split sole was introduced to offer flexibility for ease in bending the foot.  Laces can get in the way because they come untied too often.  Most tournaments now require that laces be covered and you will see that in most newer shoe designs, but you can also wrap athletic tape around the ankle to cover the laces prior to competition, which is very common. The final bit of advice on wrestling shoes is to avoid buying shoes that are too big (just so your child can wear them again next year).  Loosely fitted wrestling shoes can impede performance.

Singlets?  Only for competition...
Singlets are not worn in practice (only in competition - and even then they're not required).  Gym shorts and t-shirt are the typical practice attire.  If this is your child's first year, we recommend you stick with the free SWC singlets which we distribute for our meets and tournaments (there is a $50 refundable deposit for these).  As you wrestler advances, they may want to eventually purchase their own "cool" singlets for tournaments.  The SWC singlet is mandatory for all Penn League dual meets.

Knee Pads?  Maybe...
These are more for facilitating knee motion (ability to slide against the mat) than anything else.  There are some wrestling moves that can be executed easier with knee pads.  There are two reasons for wanting pads: 1) "I saw other kids wearing them and they look cool", or 2) "I believe I can score more takedowns with a kneepad".  Our advice is to wait until you hear #2 from your child.  Nonetheless, if you buy knee pads, the fit is very important.  They need to be tight enough to stay up during competition but you don't want a tourniquet either (and that difference can be a fine line).