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wrestling styles


Folkstyle wrestling is specific to the United States.  It's what you will see if you attend a middle school, high school, or collegiate match; for that reason, it is sometimes referred to as a collegiate wrestling.   For parents new to the sport, this is the style you will be exposed to and the one you should focus on learning first.  As your son/daughter's interest in the sport grows, he/she may pursue freestyle and/or Greco Roman wrestling - the two Olympic versions of the sport - in the off-season.  Folkstyle is very similar to Freestyle, except Folkstyle places a greater emphasis on physically controlling your opponent whereas Freestyle emphasizes scoring points and in particular back exposure.  For example, I have to hold an opponent on his back for at least two seconds in order to score "nearfall" points in wrestling, yet exposing an opponent's back to the mat for a fraction of a second in Freestyle would result in points.  I am a huge proponent of all three styles, but focus on Folkstyle for now.  Contact me for more information when your son/daughter decides to pursue the international styles.    


As noted above, Freestyle is very similar to Folkstyle with the exception of some minor scoring changes, a greater emphasis on quick back exposure, and some other nuance.  If you watch the Olympics, this is the style you are most likely to see televised.  The United States has a solid history in Freestyle competition and regularly ranks in the top three in the world, along with Russia and Iran.      

Greco Roman 

Greco Roman is the other Olympic style of wrestling.  The scoring is the same as Freestyle, yet Greco only allows contact above the waist.  Consequently, throwing your opponent takes on a greater emphasis than the other two styles, which allow opponents to attack each others legs or any other part of the body in order to score.  Legs can only be utilized to lift or push against an opponent.  Tripping or attacking another's legs is not allowed.        

Printable New Parent Guide 

Click the below link for a printable "New Parent Guide" that you can bring with you to competitions.  It provides a condensed version of the information on this page along with referee hand signals and other useful items.       

time, Positions, Weights

Match Length

High school wrestling matches consist of three, two-minute periods (i.e., six total minutes).  If a wrestler is pinned (i.e., shoulder blades held to the mat) that match will immediately end, regardless of time.  Time stops when the wrestlers go out of bounds or there is an injury.  If the match is tied at the end of regulation, there will be a 1-minute sudden death overtime period, with both wrestlers starting in the neutral position.  If neither wrestler scores in that period, there will be two more, 30-second periods with each wrestler taking a turn in the top and bottom position.  If the score remains tied after those two periods, the overtime process will start over (e.g., one minute, two 30 second periods) until one wrestler is victorious.    Note:   During a tournament, wrestlers competing in the consolation bracket (i.e., wrestlers are moved to the consolation side of the bracket following a loss), will be reduced to a five-minute match with a one-minute first period, followed by normal two-minute second and third periods).  


Neutral.  Both wrestlers are on their feet, facing each other, and neither one is in control.  All matches will begin from the neutral position.


Top.  This position is exactly how it sounds - when one wrestler is on top of another and in control of that individual.  This can occur following a takedown, reversal, or at the start of the second/third period.  

Bottom.  Again, this position is exactly as it sounds - one wrestler is on bottom with his/her opponent on top of them.  Since the top wrestler is considered to be the one in control, bottom would of course imply the opposite.  A wrestler can find themselves in this position after being taken down or at the start of the second/third period.


HS Weight Classes & Weigh-Ins

Weight Classes.  106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220, Heavy Weight (under 285)

Weigh-Ins.  Wrestlers weigh-in one hour prior to a dual/tri-meet and one to two hours prior to a tournament.  When wrestlers competed on consecutive days, they receive a one-pound allowance.  In a normal season, wrestlers receive a two-pound allowance following Christmas.  I am not sure how that will be handled for the 2020-21 season.  

individual scoring

Individual Scoring

Takedown (2pts).  A takedown is scored from the neutral position, when one wrestler gains control over the other on the mat (i.e., no longer neutral).  At this point, the wrestler who scored the takedown is considered to be in the "top" position.  There are many ways to take an opponent down, including attacking their legs, pulling them down and going behind, or throwing them tot he mat.  Takedowns can also occur defensively.  For example, if wrestler A attempts a takedown, but Wrestler B counters it and gains control, Wrestler B would earn the takedown.

Nearfall (2 or 3 pts).  Points for a near fall are awarded when a wrestler has control over their opponent in a near pinning position for at least two seconds. A near fall occurs when the defensive wrestler is in one of the following positions: 1) both of his/her shoulders are restrained four of fewer inches from the mat, 2) one shoulder/scapula is touching the mat, with the other at a 45° angle to the mat, or 3) he /she is in a high bridge (arching back with head and feet on the mat), or supported on both elbows. If near fall criteria is met for two to four seconds, the offensive wrestler will be award two points.  If met for five or more seconds, the offensive wrestler receives three points.   

Reversal (2 pts).  A reversal is awarded when a wrestler goes from a defensive to an offensive position (i.e., from the bottom position to the top).  

Escape (1 pt).  An escape occurs when a wrestler, who is in a defensive position on the mat, breaks free of an opponent’s grasp and move into the neutral position (i.e., bottom position to both wrestlers neutral with neither in control).

Penalties/Stalling/Technical Violations (1pt).  A wrestler may gain a point if their opponent does something illegal, is stalls, or is guilty of a technical violation. Penalties would include illegal moves/conduct and would result in the immediate awarding of one point to their opponent.    Stalling takes place when a wrestler is not aggressive, continually avoids contact with their opponent, plays  the edge of the mat, or any other measure designed to prevent their opponent from scoring. This does not mean a wrestler can't be defensive; they can, but they must also try to score themselves and must not avoid situations that would put them at risk of being scored upon.  Technical violations include things like starting before the whistle.  Wrestlers guilty of stalling will receive a warning for the initial instance, followed by a point for each successive one.  Some technical violations will result in an immediate point for an opponent (e.g., locked hands from the top position) while others may receive two warnings before giving up a point (e.g., starting prior to the whistle).       

team scoring/other

Team Scoring

Pin (6 team pts).  A pin, also known as a "fall" is earned when one wrestler holds the other's shoulders/blades to the mat for two seconds.  This is the ultimate goal of a match. Note: By rule, the requirement is two seconds, but some referees call them quicker than others and there's no actual timer, so if you allow your shoulders to get pressed to the mat, you will likely find yourself on the bad end of a pin.

Forfeit (6 team pts).  When one team does not have a wrestler available for a respective weight class, the other team receives a forfeit.  It is assumed a pin would have occurred, so 6 points are awarded.  The same would hold true for an injury default (i.e., one wrestler is unable to continue due to injury) or disqualification (6 pts).

Technical Fall (5 pts).  A Technical Fall is earned when one wrestler outscores the other by 15 points (i.e., essentially a mercy rule).  Once this happens, the match is over - unless the winning wrestler has his opponent in a potential pinning position.  In that case, the referee will allow the match to continue until the defensive wrestler gets off his/her back or time runs out, or the pin is secured. 


Major Decision (4 pts).  A Major Decision occurs when a wrestler beats his/her opponent by at least 8 points, but fewer than 15 (i.e., 8-14 points).  

Decision (3 pts).  A Decision occurs when a wrestler beats his/her opponent by between one and seven points.


* A team may lose a point, if one of its wrestlers is guilty of unsportsmanlike conduct (e.g., throwing headgear, failing to shake hands after a loss, etc.).  

Other Important Terms/Information

Illegal Holds.  Illegal holds are dangerous (i.e., could injure an opponent) and will result in the referee immediately stopping the match and award the defensive wrestler one point, or possibly the win, if the defensive wrestler is hurt in the process and unable to continue.  

Potentially Dangerous.  Some holds are not illegal, but they are potentially dangerous. They occur when a body part is forced to the limit of its normal range of movement. If possible, the referee will caution the offensive wrestler against forcing a potentially dangerous hold instead of stopping the match; however, if the offensive wrestler does not heed the advice or if there is no time for a warning, the bout will be stopped to prevent injury. 

Injury Time.  Injury time-outs are cumulative throughout the match and overtime. A wrestler is limited to  one and a half minutes of injury time.  If at the conclusion of that time the wrestler is unable to continue, he/she will default.  * For suspected head (concussion) or neck injuries, additionaltime will be allotted for medical personnel to evaluation the injured wrestler. 


Blood time. Wrestlers receive a total of five minutes blood time during a match (i.e., cumulative).  Wresters who are unable to control bleeding after the five minute mark will be forced to default. 

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