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Updated: Mar 26, 2022

Wrestling headgear is protective gear that is worn over the ears and chin during matches. When selecting headgear, you should consider the comfort, weight, the type of cushioning it comes with, how well it fits, adjustability, and if you are able to clearly hear your coaches through the gear.

Wrestlers wear headgear primarily to protect their ears, not their heads as the name implies. Due to this, wrestling headgear equipment can also be referred to as ear protectors or ear guards. It covers the ears of the wearer, has two straps that go behind the head, two that go over the top of the head, and one strap that goes under the chin (in some cases the strap will go on the chin). Plastic, velcro, and button snaps are commonly used for headgear.

Wearing wrestling headgear will protect you from long-term injury. Due to constant bashing and beating, wrestling without headgear can cause blood vessels in your ears to burst. Although these types of injuries don't cause external bleeding, they can cause extremely painful blood sacs to form in the ears, often resulting in permanent disfigurement. This condition is known as cauliflower ear.

As a result of Cauliflower Ear, the wrestler must visit a doctor to have the blood drained out of the ear with a needle. For a Cauliflower ear to be repaired and/or treated, a wrestler may need to see a plastic surgeon.

Headgear is generally required for school wrestling teams at all levels - elementary, junior high, and high school. Collegiate wrestling and youth wrestling leagues additionally have restrictions mandating the use of protective ear covering.

Materials Used

Wrestling headgear is made from a variety of materials. Foam, molded plastic, polypropylene, cotton padding, and many other materials can be used to construct headgear. As most headgear comes with at least some of these materials, finding the right combination is largely determined by price and quality.

Colors And Designs

The headgear for wrestling can also be found in a variety of colors or designs. Some headgear features different shaped ear cups, while others offer unique styling options or the option to design your own. There are many brands that offer custom color combinations that can match the school colors for wrestlers on school teams.

Shape Of Headgear

Most headgear comes in one of three shapes: circular, triangular, or abstract. While these shapes don't have a major effect on the protectiveness of the headgear, they do affect its style and preference.

What To Look For In Quality Wrestling Headgear:

Gel Cushioning

Among the newer styles of headgear, gel cushioning is an option that is becoming more popular. Cushioning in this manner is relatively new and may offer a better level of support than more conventional foam or cotton methods. Gel cushioning may be an excellent choice if you want more protection and support.

Type Of Chinstrap

Although it is not the most important factor in a headgear, there is a difference between a Velcro-loop chinstrap and a button-clasp chinstrap. Both can be adjusted and both are incredibly secure. You may find that padded chin straps are more comfortable for you to wear.

How Much Can You Expect To Spend On Wrestling Headgear?

With lower-end options costing around $20 and higher-quality products costing around $60, wrestling headgear is relatively affordable.


What Are The Most Well-known Brands Of Wrestling Headgear?

A. Asics and Cliff Keen are the most popular brands of headgear. Regardless of your level of play, both brands offer a number of great options.

HEADGEAR TYPE- Soft or Hard Shell

The main part of headgear (or ear guards, as they are sometimes called) is a cup-shaped shell that fits over the outside of the ear. The shell protects the delicate ear from impact and friction burns.

A Hard Shell option will be made of hard plastic with some foam padding around the area against the side of the head. Generally, Hard Shell options are the most popular, as they are more durable and offer better impact protection. In addition, they provide less obstruction to hearing during the match - important if the wrestler is being coached.

A Soft Shell will be made of softer material, usually man-made, cloth-like fabric. Softshell is highly preferred by youth wrestlers since they are more comfortable.

Another factor to consider while buying wrestling headgear is the straps. Straps are the links that get secured around the ears and to the chin to keep the headgear in place. We recommended for the headgear have approximately five straps.


There are only two sizes of headgear available: youth and adult. By adjusting the straps, you can ensure that it fits your head perfectly. Each individual headgear will come with a set of three to five straps, making it fit comfortably on the wrestler's head. The five strap models can be a bit pricier, but it’s worth spending that price difference.

Fitment Of Headgear

Modern headgear is highly adjustable and has enough material in the strap to allow it to fit large heads. The adjustment options for each headgear will vary, but all are relatively easy to adjust at a moment's notice.

Youth options are offered by most brands - head sizes vary, but in general, you'll want to go with a youth option for children under ten. You could also measure around the forehead. If the circumference is under 22 inches we suggest youth headgear

Fitting the headgear snugly is important. In the heat of the match, the headgear and straps will be subject to friction and pressure. The experience of having your headgear fall off (potentially covering your eyes) is something you should definitely avoid.

Headgear options can include chin cups and straps - these anchor the headgear under the chin to keep it from sliding around. Additionally, the cup protects the chin from abrasions and mat burn.

Taking Care Of Your Headgear

It's important to take care of your headgear, even if it isn't as big of an investment as your singlet or shoes.

Sweat and moisture will be the biggest enemy, so making sure the headgear dries thoroughly between uses is crucial. Wrestlers often hang headgear on the outside of their bags to dry after a match. This can also prevent the transmission of contagious germs by keeping headgear separate from sweaty clothes stored inside a wrestler’s bag.

First things first, you want to prepare a cleaning solution. Fill a small bowl with water and mix in detergent (Active or equivalent) . You can also add a bit of white vinegar, which will help to eliminate odor.

Wash the outside of the headgear with a damp cloth soaked in the detergent mixture. Pay particular attention to the forehead area since sweat tends to accumulate there. Some inner liners might be removable depending on the type. That would be ideal as that would allow you to wash them separately (soaking them in the soapy solution is a good idea).

Allow the headgear to dry completely before wearing it again.

As an alternative, you can sanitize your headgear with rubbing alcohol. Combine equal parts rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle. Spray it onto the outside of your headgear and wipe it down with a clean cloth. Pay special attention to the chin and forehead areas on the inside as well.

Once you’re finished, allow it to air dry.

For Wrestlers With Long Hair

In many locations, there were restrictions regarding long hair. In 2021 The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Wrestling Rules Committee met April 5-6 and recommended a rule change to remove hair length.

The removal of the hair-length rule was a monumental change. Young boys and girls today are expressing themselves through their appearance, and this is a perfect opportunity to introduce wrestling to young people who otherwise would not be attracted to our sport.

While the hair-length restriction has been removed, the requirement that hair control devices/treatment items cannot be hard, abrasive, or sharp remains. If a hair cover is used, it shall be attached to the ear guards.

Additionally, the ban on oily or greasy substances on or in the hair remains in effect.

Bringing Home The Hardware

We write these articles to educate our community while raising the bar for the standards we set for wrestling. As a result of education, we keep wrestlers on the mat so they can bring home the hardware at the end of the day! Wrestling Savvy's mission is to educate the general public and the wrestling community at all levels. Your sharing, comments, and subscriptions are appreciated.

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