Parents: We Need to Talk About Your Kids’ Shoes

Author’s Note: I am not a podiatrist, nor am I an orthopedist. The recommendations in this post come from common sense and anecdotal experience. For the best recommendations on shoes specific to you, discuss it with a medical professional.

The other day I was leading a footwork class. I looked down. I stopped. I called halt. I vomited. I cried. For a young lady was wearing Uggs. I asked her if she had a pair of sneakers to change into. She did.

But the next class, she came back wearing Crocs. Rinse and repeat with the vomit and tears.

Parents: what are you doing? Your kids’ footwear is important.

Do you climb Mount Kilimanjaro wearing a Speedo? Do you go into a knife fight with a rubber chicken? Do you take a prom date to Long John Silver’s for a fancy dinner? Do you go to couples’ therapy with OJ Simpson?

The answer (I hope) to these questions is a resounding no. Your kids’ shoes they wear are about protection. They’re about making sure they’re fit for the purpose of the activity they’re doing.

Here are some common shoes I see your kids wearing, with explanations as to why they are bad for fencing.

The ShoeWhy It Sucks for Fencing
UggsBecause it is a furry boot that provides your feet as much quality support as Comcast customer service
CrocsThey have holes in them. They’re wobbly plastic. Try taking a foot shot from an Epee in those.
Running ShoesWhen you’re running, you’re going in one direction: forward. Running shoes are not conducive to sudden changes in direction and dragging your back foot with a lunge, because they usually have a flexible top. I had a student who insisted on wearing them despite my warnings, and that they “helped.” Said student got stress fractures and was in a walking boot for a period of time. So while they’re demonstrated to reduce shock[1], they aren’t great holistically.
Wrestling ShoesWrestling is done on a padded mat, so when you try to use these on a metal strip, you’re going to have a bad time. These shoes are made with a thinner material, they have a flat insole and absolutely no arch, foot, or ankle support.
Rain BootsRain boots are great for walking in the rain. They’re not good for high impact activities like fencing. They’re thicker, heavier, and clunkier, like Justin Meehan.
Vibram Toe ShoesBecause they are ugly.

Shoes That I Like:

The best foot support I’ve gotten from “Fencing” shoes came in the form of Court Tennis Shoes. Unlike Fencing shoes which are lower to the ground and (most) don’t have a removable insole to replace with custom inserts, I’ve liked the feel of court tennis shoes—and they’re often cheaper than fencing shoes. The Adidas Barricades have been my go-to for the last 5+ years. They’ll run you $100-$125, and with frequent use + wear & tear, they’ll likely last you up to a year and a half per pair.

I’ll be doing some shoe reviews in the coming months, but if I were to tell you what my gold standard is right now, it’s court tennis shoes.


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