Shoes for Fencing... but not necessarily Fencing Shoes


We get this question all the time - I'm not ready for fencing shoes, what shoes should I get? Fencing is an incredibly dynamic and interestingly asymmetrical sport, which means that shoes can have a huge impact on your body when training week after week. If you're complaining of heel pain, shin pain, arch pain, or knee pain (you'd be surprised how common this is) or want to avoid these, you might be in need of a new shoe for fencing... but they don't have to be fencing shoes.

Sabre is particularly aggressive on the footwork so it can help to begin the discussion with what a good shoe needs to look like. Here are some of the things I look for in shoes for sabre fencing:

  • Structured upper for longevity and to support lateral movement
  • Rounded heel to allow for stable heel-striking during footwork
  • Rounded sole on the inside edge for back foot drag
  • Rigid torsion for stability 

With our feet in different directions, our shoes cannot just be built for forward impact and spring i.e. Running shoes are not going to be the footwear of choice. While fine for starting off, you'll quickly notice that these are some of the features you don't want in a shoe on the piste:

  • Mesh uppers that don't support lateral movement and don't hold up to wear very well
  • Low density foam midsoles that are built for spring and not impact absorption
  • Straight inside edge that usually exposes where the outer sole meets the inner sole - dragging your backfoot along it will tear the outsole right off. 

From the experience of our fencers and coaches, the best non-fencing shoes for fencing are court shoes. Court shoes are built for very similar movements to fencing and most of the time, are a much more cost-efficient. Check out our coaches and fencers' top picks of non-fencing shoes for fencing below. 

Adidas Barricade

The Barricade line has been a cult favourite amongst court-shoe-wearing fencers for many years. It's basically a sturdier, better built version of Adidas' older fencing shoes. They were difficult to find in recent years but Adidas has just released a new version and it still has all the desirable traits you'd want in a fencing shoe. 

The heel rounds up the heel much higher than the Asics, making them much more stable in long lunges. The upper flaps also covers the top lace eyelets on the inside of the foot, which protects the laces from the floor when you drag your back leg. There's even a kids version and if you ask me, the new design looks great! 

Asics Court FF 

These have been the choice of several of our senior fencers. They're a lighter shoe with a slimmer silhouette that will suit narrower feet. Recently, I've seen these around occasionally worn by professional athletes on the international scene. The rubber ribbing across the uppers makes the shoe durable and the outer sole wraps much higher on the inside of the shoe than the NikeCourt NXTs, meaning that your back shoe will likely last much longer on a metal piste. 

While its light weight means you stay close to the ground with a fast response, reportedly there isn't as much cushioning in the stiffer sole and the heel. This is definitely a shoe you'd want to use heel cups in to give some extra padding if you're doing footwork at an advanced level. 

NikeCourt Zoom NXT

I'd almost given up on non-fencing shoes when I found these. These shoes meet all the requirements for a fencing shoe you'd want. The heel cushioning is extra thick and rounds right up to to the back of your heel, making your foot stable even in the deepest of lunges. The outer shell also wraps around the inside, giving it a bit more durability by saving the upper fabric from the drag on the floor during fencing. 

They're a bit chunkier than they look in the photos. While the gap in the midsole can be an aesthetic put-off for some, it helps to keep the shoe springy and lighter despite the heavy midsole. Personally, I have quite narrow feet, but I've found that the heavy cushioning still hugs my feet quite well and gives it a very plush feel. 

Asics Gel Resolution 

These have made their round in the fencing community over the last few years and have been somewhat of a default court shoe amongst all three weapons. It's the heavier of Asics' court shoes, with plushy uppers and a thicker cushioning in the midsole. I'd imagine the GEL cushioning (the shiny bit in the middle of the sole) gives it a bit more impact absorption at the expense of response. 

Again, feedback has been that heel cups might be necessary with these if fencing at an advanced level. These are definitely more suited for wider feet.