What Style of Wrestling Mat Should I Buy?

Posted on February 15, 2019 by Customer Service

Purchasing a wrestling mat can be an overwhelming experience. This guide will cover the key points in determining which style of wrestling mat is the best for you.

Wrestling mats usually fall into two different styles, “traditional” or “classic” and “new style” or  “roll-up.”

Competition wrestling mats


Will your mat be used for competition, practice, or both?  Is mat going to be used two times a year or daily? What are the storage options? Who will be using the mat? These are all excellent questions to start with when embarking on the initial research for your wrestling mat purchase.

The traditional style mats are made in one piece or large, heavy sections. To layout and put away the mat for tournaments will often take a tremendous amount of time and labor.  Schools will store the mats by hoisting them up in the gymnasium’s ceiling or rolled up onto large racks. Depending upon manufacture, these mats weigh on average 0.8 - 1.25 lbs per square foot; 40’ x 40’ mat weight is between 1,280 - 2,000 lbs. Although the older traditional style mats are heavy and require extreme storage solutions, some have withstood the test of time.
    Wrestling on traditional style mat

    The new style mats are manufactured in lightweight, 6’ wide sections for minimal effort to relocate. The back of the mats is scored for easy rollup set up, and tear down. Depending on the manufacturer, the new style, easy roll mats weigh on average 0.4 - 0.5 lbs per square foot; 40’ x 40’ mat weight is between 640 - 800 lbs. Easy roll mats have a one=side play surface and can easily be repaired with a patch kit.
        AK Athletics lightweight wrestling mats


        Materials used for the classic style mat versus the materials in new lightweight wrestling mats are extremely different.  Know that mats are different now than previously, for a good reason.

        Traditional mats (old style classic mats) are fabricated with a foam core closed-cell rubber nitrile, and the outside protected sealer is applied by hot spraying harsh chemicals. The coating contains antimicrobial elements that help protect from odor and stains caused by fungi, mildew, and mold. The mats require a 2-week curing process before athletes can utilize them. At room temperature, these mats need to be rolled out flat and the layer of cornstarch to be removed. The purpose of the cornstarch is to help prevent the traditional mat from sticking together from the hot chemical coating.


        The new lightweight, easy roll style mats are much simpler than the traditional mats and do not have a curing process. The new style mats are made by laminating polyethylene closed-cell foam and 22 oz antimicrobial, antifungal vinyl. The playing surface can be used for all ages and competitions.



        Regulations have been established to keep the safety of the athletes as the top priority. The safety requirements are developed by shock-attenuation g-max rating to be less than 100 and Head Injury Criterion (HIC) score to be less than 1,000. Check out this cool video of AK Athletic’s mat absorbs enough impact that an egg can be dropped onto it.

        G-Max official testing measures how fast it takes a 20 lbs flat missile to come to a complete stop. The missile represents an athlete's torso and an accelerometer mounted inside. The numerical value represented as “g-max,” the lower the number, the better the shock attenuation.

        The HIC differentiates from the g-max by using a spherical missile to represents a person’s head. You are probably familiar with HIC testing from the crash dummies used when testing the safety of cars.

        HIC Test

        The NCAA ’s regulations on wrestling mats are to have the shock-absorbing qualities referred by the American Society for Testing Material (ASTM) organization. Referees, Athletic Directors, and coaches should have knowledge and in-depth access to the most current ASTM specification standards.  

        F-1081: “Standard Specification for Competition Wrestling Mats”
        F355: “Test Method for Shock-absorbing Properties of Playing Surface Systems and Materials”
        E648: “ Standard Test Method for Critical Radiant Flux of Floor-Covering Systems Using a Radiant Heat Energy Source”


          Both styles of mats, classic and roll up, are approved for NCAA competitions. All wrestling mats should be 1 to 4 inches thick.

          High school mats require a minimum size of 38’ x 38’ with a 28’ diameter circle, and collegiate mat size can range from  42’ x 42’ (32’ diameter circle) to 52’ x 52’ (42’ diameter circle). There is a minimum of 5’ from the edge of the mat to the circle's edge.
              NCAA Diagram
              Practice mat varies in size due to limited space in the facility and usually has multiple 8’ circles spaced evenly throughout the mat. The most common mat dimension use for homes ranges from 8 to 12 feet. It is essential for practice mats to have the same shock absorbency as a competition mat.

                  Black practice mat with yellow circles and wall pads



                  Adding graphics will take your mat to the next level. Schools and clubs will often customize their mat by placing their name, mascot, or crest on a portion of the wrestling mat. Traditional mats generally have a higher risk of error by screenprinting and hand painting. AK Athletics' new style wrestling mats are digitally printed, allowing for precise details and enduring vibrant colors from the UV cured ink. Email us today for a free mock-up of your design.


                  Chieftain head digitally printed  AK Athletic Equipment

                  Once you have determined which style is best for you, do your research on manufacturers and compare “apples-to-apples.” It is essential for home mats to have the same shock absorbency and safety regulations as a competition mat. Contact each company to see who is the quickest and easiest to communicate with and request documents and samples. It can be an eye-opening experience.

                  AK Athletic Equipment is open Monday-Friday 9:00a.m. - 4:00p.m. (ET)

                  Feel free to call us at 800-431-4372 or email sales@akathletics.com