Marching band is a unique activity with specialized footwear needs. Gone are the days of simply recommending "closed-toed shoes." The Wildcat Marching Band is a corps-style band that puts on high-caliber shows. As such, we are demanding a bit more from our members and want to be sure you are prepared to be successful. Even if you haven't marched before, we'll get you up to speed. Obviously, you will be on your feet a lot throughout the season, as that's what marching is all about! The best way to keep your feet in good shape is to wear proper footwear. During band camp in particular, we'll have some long stretches outside on the field, so it's important that you start off the season right away with good equipment.


Contrary to popular belief, cotton socks aren't actually the best for athletic activities. They tend to absorb moisture and hold it close to your skin. Look for polypropylene blend socks instead. That's what all the "wicking" materials are made of. They're becoming increasingly easy to find. Your keywords are "wicking," "Ultramax," or "Coolmax." If you're an instrumentalist and they have them in all-black, pick up a pair or two of calf-length ones for performances. Yes, instrumentalists, make sure you have CALF-LENGTH (or longer) black socks for performances. Ankle-length or crew socks are not enough.


It's strongly suggested that you replace your insoles (if you don't already have orthotics) to help protect against foot, ankle, and leg injuries. Spenco brand comes highly recommended, in particular the Polysorb Cross Trainer. If you don't want to order them online, you may be able to find them at a local store. Support is important here, and the super-cheap insoles won't provide this for you.

Blister Prevention

For many reasons, we've all gotten blisters from our shoes. Prevention is key here. Once you feel that hot spot start, take steps to prevent it from becoming a blister. Band Aid makes a great friction block stick. It looks like a tiny deodorant stick, and you rub it on your feet wherever you feel rubbing from your shoes. It allows the two surfaces to glide more smoothly against each other, reducing the blister-causing friction. You can buy these at most drugstores or online. Also great for trips to Disney World (from personal experience)!

In addition to the friction block, you can try putting adhesive bandages over those spots, though they have a tendency to come off. Some people swear by duct tape! Take a square and slap it over the spot on your foot and goodbye friction! Then you have the adhesive to contend with later.


Walking or cross-training shoes are your best bet. Running shoes don't tend to provide enough support in the middle of the foot due to flexibility needs. See below for a list of recommended shoes. Whatever you end up getting, go to a department store or sporting goods store and try them on to make sure they fit. If you know you have certain issues like over-pronation, high arches, or flat feet, talk to a sales associate or do some research online to find the best models to try. Once you find a pair that works, make sure you wear them for all rehearsals during the season. It will be easy to forget if you're coming from class, so get in the habit of putting them with your instrument/flag bag..

Podiatrist Tom Freeman volunteers for the Drum Corps Medical Project and works closely with marching musicians. He has developed a list of recommended shoes for this activity. While we aren't rehearsing the same number of hours as a drum corps and aren't demanding as much from you, it is still highly recommended that you obtain a pair of these shoes. Drum corps musicians are recommended to get two pairs to rotate between, though that is primarily a function of the number of hours the rehearse. You should be fine with one pair. Running shoes do not have the proper support for the type of movement we execute.

More information, taken from the Drum Corps Medical Project Facebook page. We're partial to Nike, since UNH is a Nike school. Also New Balance, since Mark Adams works there!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tom Freeman DPM is a practicing podiatrist in Muncie, IN, and a Cavaliers alumnus. He is a member of the Cavaliers Medical Group and serves on the steering committee for the Drum Corps Medical Project.

Welcome to this year’s shoe list. These have been selected based on their appropriateness for our activity. I spent time in many stores looking at and hand picking these shoes with the following parameters as a guide.


  • Must work on a variety of surfaces
  • Must be affordable
  • Must be able to stand up to moisture and wear
  • Must work biomechanically with the activity
  • Must be injury preventative
  • Must be comfortable and fit a wide variety of foot styles

  • Nike
    • Air Conquest IV
    • Reax 8 TR Men's Cross-Trainers
    • Nike Men's Air One TR Training Shoe
    • Nike Wild Trail Running Shoe
  • New Balance
    • 619 Men's Cross-Trainers
    • 519 Cross-Trainers - Men
    • 608 Cross-Trainers - Men
    • 412 Trail Running Shoes
    • 623v2 Training Shoe
    • 481 Trail
    • 612 Trail
    • 636 Cross Trainer
    • New Balance 409
    • New Balance 709
    • New Balance 710
    • New Balance 510
  • Asics
    • ASICS GEL-Venture 3 Trail Running Shoes
    • ASICS GEL-Venture 4 Trail Running Shoes
    • ASICS Gel-Unifire™ TR
    • ASICS GEL-Sonoma
  • Other
    • Under Armour Men's Strive V
    • Under Armour Micro G Assert IV Trail Shoes
    • Pacific Trail Cinder Water-Repellant Trail
    • Pacific Trail Pilot Running Shoes
    • Pacific Trail Tioga Trail Running Shoe
    • adidas Thrasher Trail Shoes
    • Skechers Reprint 50127
  • WIDE
    • Nike Air Monarch IV Extra Wide Cross-Trainers
    • FILA Fortifier Wide Cross-Trainers 
    • New Balance 619 Wide-Width Cross-Trainers
    • New Balance 456 Extra Wide Walking Shoes

Other than shoes and socks, you should be all set. If you wear corrective orthotics, please make sure you transfer them to your practice shoes. They SHOULD fit into the Super Drillmasters, as well (not sure about the Relevé shoes for guard). Oh, and try to avoid wearing cheap flip-flops, especially for extended periods of time. They have no arch support and can cause foot problems both in the immediate future as well as down the road. If you want to wear sandals, spring for better ones with more support. Keen, Birkenstock, Merrell, and Teva all make great sandals. If you don't want to spend that much, you can find middle-of-the road sandals that at least have some sort of arch support. Closed-toed shoes are required for marching rehearsals anyway, but this is advice for the rest of the time.