• Wrestling 101

    In a wrestling match, there are typically three periods.  The winning wrestler is the one who either pins his opponent or, failing that, scores the most points.  While wrestling, wrestlers can be in either the offensive, defensive or neutral positions.

    The offensive position, also called “on top” is held by the wrestler who is on top of and/or behind the opponent and is physically controlling him.  The neutral position is when neither wrestler has control over the other and they are both on their feet or knees and facing each other.   The defensive position is also called being “on the bottom” is the wrestler who is underneath and being physically controlled. 

    Starting the match, wrestlers begin on their feet, facing each other in the neutral position. The wrestler wearing a green leg band is the home wrestler and the visiting wrestler wears red. The wrestlers shake hands and the referee blows the whistle to begin wrestling.  All matches begin in the neutral position.  After the first period, the referee will toss a red-green marker and the winner will have the choice to begin the second period in either the offensive or defensive position or the winner can defer his choice to the third period.  During the third period, the other wrestler will have their choice of starting position.

    During the match, points are scored as follows:

    Takedown - 2 points - Awarded after one of the wrestlers gets behind the opponent and forces him down to the mat to his stomach or side or knees or weight on all fours OR takes his opponent directly to his back or buttocks without getting behind him AND becomes the offensive wrestler. 

    Escape -  1 point – Awarded after the defensive wrestler gets out from underneath the opponent’s control and gets into the neutral position AND is facing his opponent.

    Reversal - 2 points – Awarded after the defensive wrestler gets out from underneath the opponent’s control and gets on top of and/or behind the opponent in one move AND becomes the offensive wrestler. To earn a reversal, you do not have to return your opponent to the mat as you would on a takedown. 

    Nearfall- 2 – 3 points – Awarded after the offensive wrestler turns the defensive wrestler over onto their back and holds him at a 45 degree angle or less for between 2-4 seconds (2 points) or 5 or more seconds (3 points).  Only one set of near fall points can be awarded for each pinning hold, and the points are not awarded until after the pinning situation has ended. 

    Penalty – 1 or 2 points.  If a wrestler’s opponent breaks the rules of wrestling, he can earn penalty points.  The most common penalties are for stalling (when the wrestler is being passive or inactive), using an illegal hold, unnecessary roughness or making a potentially dangerous move.   The referee may first issue a caution, but if he does not, the first penalty is 1 point. Any second penalty is 1 point. Any third penalty is 2 points. Any fourth penalty is disqualification. Unsportsmanlike conduct and flagrant misconduct can lead to immediate disqualification. 

    Locked Hands Penalty - A wrestler in the neutral position or defensive position can lock hands around the torso or both legs of the opponent. But it is a penalty for the offensive wrestler to lock hands (except cradles) around the torso or both legs of the defensive wrestler unless the opponent is standing on their feet or within a near fall count. Overlapping fingers is considered locked hands by the referee. 

    Locked Hands Around the Neck Penalty - It is a penalty from any position to lock hands around the opponent’s head without an arm or leg included. You must also allow your opponent to breathe in a headlock or the referee can stop it as potentially dangerous.

    Caution and Caution Penalty Point - 0 and 1 point – If a wrestler starts too quickly before the whistle or lines up incorrectly when starting he will receive a caution. A wrestler is allowed two cautions before the penalty points begin. 


    Wrestling competitions may be “duals” or “tournaments” In a dual competition a wrestler from each weight class of one team wrestles an opponent from the same weight class of a different team.  Once each weight class has wrestled, the dual is completed.  

    In a tournament, wrestlers compete individually in two brackets in each of the 14 weight classes.  All wrestlers begin in the “champion” bracket for their weight class.  If they lose a

    match, they fall to the consolation bracket.  If they lose a second time, they are done wrestling for the day.

    Team Scoring

    Points are awarded to a team whenever a wrestler wins a match or receives a bye or forfeit.  The points are awarded as follows:


    • Decision (winning the match by fewer than 8 points) - 3 team points
    • Major Decision (winning the match by 8 - 14 points) - 4 team points
    • Technical Fall (getting ahead of your opponent by 15 points ends the match) - 5 team points
    • Fall/Pin, Forfeit, Default, Disqualification - 6 team points


    In championship bracket: 2 points per win

    In consolation bracket: 1 point per win

    Win by major decision (8 point or more differential): 1 additional point

    Win by technical fall (15 point differential): 1.5 additional points

    Win by fall (pin), default, forfeit or disqualification: 2 additional points

    Win in championship quarterfinals: 3 additional team points

    Win in championship semifinals: 9 additional team points

    Win in the championship finals (first place): 4 additional team points

    Win in the consolation quarterfinals: 3 additional team points

    Win in the consolation semifinals: 4 additional team points

    Win in the consolation finals (third place): 2 additional team points Win in the match for fifth place: 2 additional team points

    Weight Classes:

    The different weight classes are:

    106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220 and 285.  After the holiday break, there is a two-pound allowance for each weight class.

    Styles of Wrestling

    Folkstyle wrestling is used during the high school and middle school wrestling season in the fall.  This style allows you to lock your hands when you are on top of an opponent if you are attempting a pin.

    In the spring, it is Freestyle and Greco-Roman season.  This is a “club” sport and important for wrestlers to maintain their skills and conditioning to the following school year.  Freestyle wrestling is an international style that allows wrestlers to use both upper and lower body attacks and allows the hands to be locked any time in the top position.  Greco-Roman is the style used in the Olympics and only allows upper body attacks.  In Greco-Roman offensive or defensive techniques using the legs are illegal.