Wrestling is a “basic sport” in the sense that it finally comes down to the strength and
skill of one person pitted against that of another. Practically every muscle in the body is
used in wrestling. Moreover, training must produce strength, speed and endurance. A
participant must be in excellent physical condition.
The two most popular styles of wrestling practiced in the United States are the Greco-
Roman style and Freestyle.
In the Freestyle form, a wrestler can use his/ her hands, arms, legs and feet to overcome an
opponent. This style also allows for great freedom of movement and allows both tripping and
The Greco-Roman style forbids the use of the legs and relies instead on arm and upper-body
strength. The Olympic Games currently include both styles of competitive wrestling.
HOW WRESTLING MATCHES ARE PERFORMED
A wrestling match takes place on a mat with a circle in the center, about 28 feet in
diameter. At the Olympic level, a match is composed of three 3-minute periods. On the
high school level, a match is comprised of three two-minute periods. College matches
are made up of a two-minute period followed by two three-minute periods.
Typically, wrestlers are grouped by weight. High school wrestling has 13 weight classes,
starting at 103 pounds and going up to 275 pounds. College wrestling has 10 weight
classes, starting at 118 pounds. The advanced wrestler may enter any of eight different
weight classes in international competition.
In the first period, wrestlers try to force their opponents onto the mat in a “takedown.” The
period begins with the wrestlers facing each other in a standing position. A toss of the coin
determines starting positions for the second and third periods. In the second and third periods,
wrestlers can start while standing or can begin in the referee’s position, which means that
the wrestler on the bottom has his or her hands and knees on the mat.
These are the three different ways matches are won:
By pinning the opponent’s shoulders flat to the mat.
By a technical fall or a 15-point lead.
By winning the most points.
A match can end in any period. Even if a wrestler has fewer points than his or her
opponent, he or she can still win if he/she pins the other wrestler to the mat.
When one wrestler gains control over another wrestler by bringing him/her down, a
takedown has occurred and two points are scored. If a wrestler frees himself or herself
from the opponent’s control and then gains control of the opponent, a reversal has taken
place—worth two points.Another two-point move is called a “predicament,” and occurs
when one wrestler controls the other. The referee then decides that a near fall may occur.
A near fall is worthtwo, sometimes three, points. In this move, a wrestler must pin one of
his or her opponent’s shoulders to the mat and hold the other shoulder near the mat at an
angle less than 45 degrees.
Two points are awarded if the hold is maintained less than five seconds. The move
becomes a three-point award when the maneuver is held close to the mat for more than
five seconds. If a wrestler can pin both of his/her opponent’s shoulders to the mat for
five seconds, six points are awarded.
TAKEDOWNS, ESCAPES AND REVERSALS
The takedown, escape and reversal are important basic moves that beginners should master.
A double-leg takedown, ont of the basic takedown maneuvers,begins when you put your
foot between your opponent’s feet. Then take your lead knee to the mat and lock both
arms around the opponent’s thigh. The opponent is taken off the mat and over your
shoulders, then dropped back down on the mat.
The high-crotch takedown depends on quick reactions and strength. If an opponent grabs
your neck, a countermove is to take hold of the opponent’s elbow. The elbowis pushed
toward the opponent’s body, then pulled out as you drop to your knee and place a free arm
between your opponent’s legs. Then dropped your opponent over your shoulder to you gain
control of him or her.
Two other takedowns that rely particularly on strength are the bearhug and the headlock.
In the bearhug, you grab the torso of the opponent, throwing the opponent to the
side or pushing him/her backward so that the opponent falls.
The headlock requires you to wrap an arm around the opponent’s head and force the
opponent down or throw him/her to the side.
The inside-leg stand-up is a basic escape maneuver. This move allows the wrestler on
the bottom to get free and try to gain control.
The short-sit-out is an escape move that allows the wrestler on the bottom to get his/herlegs
into a sitting position. Escapes can sometimes be difficult to accomplish, especially
if the wrestlers are evenly matched in size/strength.
The side roll and switch are two reversals that are especially good for beginning wrestlers
to master. The reversals start from the bottom position and depend on strength and
quick reactions in order for the bottom wrestler to get on top.
Psychological factors are all-important in wrestling. All other things being equal, a wrestler has a
better chance of success if he/she has a strong will to win. Confidence in one’s ability is as
important in wrestling as is the ability itself. So is concentration and the ability to focus
exclusively on one’s performanceand one’s opponent. Remember, however, that confidence
is not some magic ingredient that will help you win matches. Confidence is gained by hard work
and the development of wrestling skills. Wrestling also demands year-round practice. In this
respect it is not a sport for everyone. Certainly, it’s not a “weekend” sport like golf. A
young wrestler must work on building strength through resistance and aerobic training, proper
nutrition and rest.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING
Wrestling requires only a minimum amount of equipment. Wrestlers traditionally wear
an outfit called a singlet—a one-piece garment with shorts and a sleeveless top. Shoes
are lightweight, ankle-high and without heels. In recent years, protective headgear covering
the ears has become a standard requirement.
WRESTLING NOTES AND NEWS
Wrestling exists in two versions in North American popular culture: as a legitimate sport
and as a form of entertainment. As a sport, wrestling does not have the popularity of
football or basketball. But as a form of entertainment, as witnessed in associations such
as the World Wrestling Federation, it fills arenas, magazines and TV screens.
Wrestling is also an Olympic sport, where Freestyle and Greco-Roman are the only
permissible styles. Both Greco-Roman and Freestyle wrestling are divided into 10 weight
classes, ranging from 48 kg. to 130 kg.
Recent Olympic rule changes have increased the spectator enjoyment of wrestling. In
1989, matches became one-period, 5-minutes contests. This change decreased the importance
of endurance and increased the importance of speed and skill.
The greatest American heavyweight freestyle Olympic wrestler is Bruce Baumgartner,
who has been in Olympic competition in 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996. He holds four gold
medals and one silver medal.
You can get a feel for the international flavor of wrestling with this abbreaviated listing
of medalists from the Sydney Olympics in 2000:
Wrestler Country Medal
Namig Abdullayev Azerbaijan Gold
Samuel Henson USA Silver Medal
Amiran Karntanov Greece Bronze Medal
Alireza Dabir Iran Gold Medal
Yevgen Buslovych Urkaine Silver Medal
Terry Brands USA Bronze Medal
Mourad Oumakhanov Russia Gold Medal
Serafim Barzakov Bulgaria Silver Medal
Jae Sung Jang Korea Bronze Medal
Daniel Igali Canada Gold Medal
Aresen Gitinov Russia Silver Medal
Lincoln McIlravy USA Bronze Medal
Alexander Leipold Germany Gold Medal
Brandon Slay USA Silver Medal
Eui Jae Moon Korea Bronze Medal
Minnesota Wins 2001 Division I Championship
Minnesota made history twice, ending Iowa’s decade-long domination to win its first
NCAA wrestling championship and become the first team to capture the national title
with no one in the finals. Cael Sanderson of Iowa State was named Outstanding Wrestler.
North Dakota State Wins Division II Championship
With three individual weight class champions, North Dakota State pulled away from
South Dakota State to claim the 2001 Division II Championship.
Wrestling is an exciting sport both for participants and spectators. You’ll find top-notch
competition on both high school and college levels. Make it a point to see a wrestling
meet this year.
WHAT TO DO:
The following questions will help you to have a greater appreciation and understanding
of wrestling. Write your answers in the spaces below the questions. If there is not enough
room, write on the backs of these sheets. Be neat, spell correctly, and write in complete
1. What physical benefits can be gained from wrestling?
2. What are the two most popular styles of wrestling practiced in the United States?
3. How long is an Olympic wrestling match? a high school match? a college match?
4. How are wrestlers grouped?5. What is “a takedown” in wrestling?
6. Name three different ways to win a match.
7. What is “a predicament”?
8. What is “a reversal?”
9. Why are psychological factors so important in wrestling?
10. What two types of takedowns rely especially on strength?
Short Answer Questions:
1. One form of wrestling2. Grabbing an opponent’s torso
3. Points awarded if hold is maintained less than five seconds
4. Points awarded if hold is maintained over five seconds
5. Points lead needed to win a match
6. The number of weight classes in high school wrestling
7. One way to win a match is to pin these to the mat
8. Grabbing an opponent’s head
9. A form of wrestling
10. One-piece garment worn by wrestlers
11. What happens when one wrestler controls the other
12. This is how wrestlers are grouped
13. Maneuver to get opponent on the mat
14. The number of weight classes in international wrestling
15. Takes precedence over points
16. These are not used in Greco-Roman wrestling
17. A reversal maneuver
18. The number of weight classes in college wrestling
19. Purpose of an inside-leg standup
20. A short _____ out is done to escape