No Street Shoes Allowed! Plus a Bonus Guide to Fencing Shoes

We recently upgraded our floors, and installed 8 grounded metal fencing strips.  We have spent $10,000+ to build a world-class floor for our athletes, and we want to keep it in top shape.  We are now requiring that all fencers change into a clean pair of sneakers or fencing shoes before they step onto the fencing floor.  Please DO NOT wear sneakers in from the parking lot.  Pebbles and debris will ruin the conductive metal surfaces, and can result in thousands of dollars worth of damage repairs. 

We recommend purchasing a pair of sneakers specifically to wear on the fencing floor (you can also clean up a pair that you already have and use them just for fencing).  These should be kept in your fencing or duffel bag, and changed into once inside the club. 

If you're looking to purchase a pair of shoes for the sole purpose (no pun intended) of fencing, we have some tips for you!

1)  If your child is still growing, you don't need to spend the extra money of "fencing specific shoes" (unless you want to). Many parents may feel they need to buy shoes made specifically for their child’s sport, but this just isn’t necessary when they are just starting out. Fencing shoes can run well upwards of $100+ a pair, and you don’t want to be replacing those expensive shoes every six months as your child’s feet grow. My best advice is to buy cheaper shoes as they grow, and invest in fencing-specific shoes once growth has slowed or stopped.

2) If you choose to buy non-fencing shoes, avoid regular running shoes with a thick heel and a body that is too flexible. They will not provide the support that your fencer needs on the strip, especially for the inner sole. Volleyball or badminton shoes made specifically for the court can work great! They are soft-soled and designed to withstand the side-to-side and back-and-forth movement found in quick court games. They help you stop quickly and move more precisely. They also tend to be available at much more reasonable prices than fencing-specific shoes. If you can find a pair of court shoes you like at a price you like, this option is easily the best alternative.

3) When trying shoes on, make sure to do some fencing lunges in the shoe to ensure that they are supportive and stay put (you don't want to buy a pair of shoes that allow their foot to move around in; this can cause them to roll their ankle while doing footwork).  Often parents buy shoes a little large for their children during their growing years so they can get the most use out of them.  Because of this, don't rely on using the size of their existing shoes. No matter how many articles you read or tips you get, there is no substitute for going in and trying them on. Make sure your child experiences firsthand how the shoes work with their feet while actually doing fencing footwork and techniques.  Once trick is to wear two pair of socks (an ankle sock under their fencing socks) so your child can get a shoe about a half size larger and still have it fit snug.  When their foot grows, they can begin wearing just one pair of socks. 

4)  When you're ready to buy a pair of fencing-specific shoes, you can get a better idea of what will work best by taking a look around the club before you go shopping. Find out what shoes our most competitive fencers use.

  • Absolute Fencing Gear just release a new pair of mid-range fencing shoes by Anta.  They are currently on sale for a promotional price of $99 (regular price is $129), and are a great option.  I purchased a pair of these at Summer Nationals last month, and have been wearing them every day at practice.  They are very comfortable, and have great stability and grip on our strips.
  • One of the most popular high-end fencing shoes are the Nike Air Zooms.  They run $179, but some colors are on clearance for $145.  I have personally gone through several pairs of these over the past 10 years, and have found them to be my favorite fencing shoes.

5) For more advanced fencers (both in terms of age and skill), the specialty shoe is almost a must. Fencers at these levels will go to a lot of competitions, including national ones that overlap in age, and they will most likely be competing every other week, if not weekly. In addition, they will train a lot, both in terms of hours per training, and training days per week. Because of this, having a good, durable, and dependable shoe is imperative to their success.

  • When choosing a shoe for an advanced fencer keep in mind that well-known, brand-name shoes such as Nike and Adidas will tend to last longer than their cheaper counterparts.  Adidas is rumored to be dropping fencing shoes from their production line, further limiting your options.

6) Whatever type of shoe you decide on, be sure to wear them only in the fencing area. Your shoes are among the most expensive pieces of fencing gear you own, so you want to protect them! Soft-soled shoes are not meant to be worn in parking lots, on driveways, or on any surface that can create significant friction. One run around the parking lot can really do some damage Plus, you want to take care not to track in any small debris from outside. It’s easy to bring in some small stones or gravel in the grooves of your shoe and then damage the fencing floor when you come inside. Or worse, you can cause a safety hazard for yourself and other fencers.

With these tips in mind you should have no problem finding the perfect shoes for your level, your budget, and your style. Don’t forget that what’s best for someone else isn’t necessarily best for you or your particular needs. You will find what you like best as you continue fencing and then you can stick with your choice and even help others find their perfect shoe! Some fencers, even at the highly competitive levels, choose to continue buying volleyball or other court shoes even after they finish growing because they just like them better! No two fencers are alike and your shoe choices are your own.

 

If you're considering buying a new pair of shoes to use for fencing, it's always a good idea to consult with your coach before spending money on something you think will be great, but might be a very bad option.