Before industry standards, wrestling mats were inadequate regarding safety and they were hard, if not impossible, to keep clean. Mats often consisted of straw or horsehair that was crammed into a tufted canvas cover. These canvas-covered mats offered little protection from falls or injuries and quickly became filthy. Grappling on dirty mats also raised concern as mat burns were very common and caused wrestlers to have the constant threat of skin infections.

Thankfully with today’s advances in foam technology, health awareness, impact testing and wrestling mat standards, manufacturers can provide wrestling mats far superior to the mats of the 1950’s. This improvement is important because wrestling is a sport with a high injury rate among participating athletes, particularly when compared to other sports at the high school and collegiate level. In the United States alone, it is estimated that more than two million high school student-athletes suffer from sports-related injuries each year according to a three-year study by the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA).1  The most common injuries were knee injuries, shoulder and elbow sprains, head injuries and skin infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control there are more than 300,000 concussions that occur each year in wrestling with high school athletes being three times more likely to experience a second concussion during the same sport season. Wrestling mats play a major part in minimizing the rate and severity of injuries, so understanding the hazards and the importance of mat materials is vital for athletes, coaches, athletic directors, and parents. 

Wrestling Mat Standards

The American Society of Testing and Materials International (ASTM) has established ASTM F 1081-97 “Standard Specification for Competition Wrestling Mats”. The ASTM standard is a basic guideline for the types of foam acceptable for use and also general information about mat construction. The standard goes beyond the physical properties of the foam exploring concepts like tensile strength, to address the safety issue of the mat performance requirements or shock-absorption properties of the mat. Another standard that wrestling mats can be manufactured to meet is the stringent ASTM E 84-05 “Standard Test Method for Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials” as Class “A” fire-rated in accordance with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 255. 

It’s Not Thickness, it’s What’s Inside That Counts

It is a common misperception that all foam mats offer the same amount of protection, regardless of the thickness. Nearly all of the wrestling mats on the market today use either Nitrile Butadiene Rubber (NBR) / Polyvinyl Chloride Foam (PVC) / foam or cross-linked Polyethylene foam. Both of these types of closed-cell foam have many benefits. A wrestling mat manufactured with NBR / PVC foam coated with a PVC vinyl painted surface is more resilient, lighter, and safer than the old canvas mats. The most common mat thicknesses are 1-inch and 1-1/4-inch. 

Lightweight cross-linked polyethylene foam provides a lighter weight and cost effective alternative to NBR / PVC foams while still meeting the wrestling mat standards. For wrestling mats, the most common thicknesses are 1-1/4-inch and 2-inch thick.

Armacell for the Win

Armacell is a leading provider of engineered shock-absorbing foams for the wrestling mat manufacturing industry. Our high-quality, lightweight foams are designed for safety, longevity, and performance. The foams Armacell provides to leading wrestling-mat manufacturers are preferred by high school and college wrestlers, coaches and referees for their durability, comfort, and safety. With two quality brands available, Armacell has the right product to meet your needs.

ArmaSport® Premium Foam Product

High-performance shock absorption is the foundation of any athletic mat and Armacell has set the standard with ArmaSport component foam manufactured in rolls. These NBR / PVC blends are designed for impact protection and long-lasting performance. 

While some wrestling mats wear out quickly with heavy use, mats made with our ArmaSport product stand up to heavy use while delivering consistent impact protection. 

  • Closed-cell foam resists moisture that leads to mold growth 
  • Meets all applicable ASTM standards
  • Made in the USA

OleTex® Lightweight Foam Product

OleTex foam products are a lighter weight, cost-effective alternative to the premium ArmaSport foam products for wrestling mats. Cross-linked polyethylene material allows for lighter and more portable wresting mats. Our OleTex product is an excellent choice for athletic programs on a budget or where portability and easy set up are priorities.

  • Lightweight foam cushioning
  • Easy to roll and store
  • Meets all applicable ASTM standards
  • Closed-cell foam resists moisture that leads to mold growth 
  • Made in the USA