Freestyle wrestling

Freestyle wrestling is a form of amateur wrestling that is practiced throughout the world. Along with Greco-Roman, it is one of the two styles of wrestling contested in the Olympic games.

Freestyle wrestling is a form of amateur wrestling that is practiced throughout the world. Along with Greco-Roman, it is one of the two styles of wrestling contested in the Olympic games. It is, along with track and field, one of the oldest sports in history. American high school and college wrestling is conducted under different rules and termed collegiate wrestling.

Freestyle wrestling, like its American counterpart, collegiate (also known as scholastic or folkstyle) wrestling, has its origins in catch-as-catch-can wrestling and both have the prime victory condition of the wrestler winning by pinning his opponent on the mat. Freestyle and collegiate wrestling, unlike Greco-Roman, also both allow the use of the wrestler’s or his opponent’s legs in offense and defense.

According to the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA), freestyle wrestling is one of the four main forms of amateur competitive wrestling that are practiced internationally today. The other three forms of wrestling are Greco-Roman, grappling (also called submission wrestling), and sambo.

A match is a competition between two individual wrestlers of the same weight class. In freestyle wrestling, a jury (or team) of three officials (referees) is used. The referee controls the action in the center, blowing the whistle to start and stop the action, and supervises the scoring of holds and infractions. The judge sits at the side of the mat, keeps score, and occasionally gives his approval when needed by the referee for various decisions. The mat chairman sits at the scoring table, keeps time, is responsible for declaring technical superiority, and supervises the work of the referee and judge. To call a pin, two of the three officials must agree (usually, the referee and either the judge or the mat chairman).

Period Format
The freestyle wrestler in the blue singlet scores points over the wrestler in the red singlet to win by decision.
The freestyle wrestler in the blue singlet scores points over the wrestler in the red singlet to win by decision.

In Greco-Roman and freestyle, the format is now three two-minute periods. Before each match, each wrestler’s name is called, and the wrestler takes his place at the corner of the mat assigned to his color. The referee then calls both of them to his side at the center of the mat, shakes hands with them, inspects their apparel, and checks for any perspiration, oily or greasy substances, and any other infractions. The two wrestlers then greet each other, shake hands, and the referee blows his whistle to start the period.

A wrestler wins the match when he has won two out of three periods. For example, if one competitor were to win the first period 1-0 and the second period 1-0, the match would be over. However, if the other competitor were to win the second period, then a third and deciding period would result. Only a fall, injury default, or disqualification terminates the match; all other modes of victory result only in period termination. One side effect of this format is that it is possible for the losing wrestler to outscore the winner. For example, periods may be scored 3-2, 0-4, 1-0, leading to a total score of 4-6 but a win for the wrestler scoring fewer points.

In freestyle, if the score is tied at 0-0 at the end of a two-minute period, the two contestants then wrestle in an overtime period known as The Clinch, that lasts for a maximum of 30 seconds. The referee determines by a coin toss which wrestler will have the advantage in the clinch position. The wrestler who lost the coin toss then places one leg in the middle of the central circle and the other leg outside of the central circle. The wrestler who won the coin toss then signals to the referee which leg he will place in the middle of the central circle. After doing so, the wrestler who won then wraps both of his arms around the leg of his opponent that is in the central circle and then places his head on the outside of his opponent’s thigh. The loser of the coin toss then places both of his hands on his opponent’s shoulders. When the referee verifies that the clinch position is correct, the two contestants then wrestle. The first wrestler to score a point wins the period. If after 30 seconds, the wrestler who had the advantage in the clinch fails to score a point, his opponent would then receive a point and be declared the winner of the period.

When the period (or match) has concluded, the referee stands at the center of the mat facing the officials’ table. Both wrestlers then come, shake hands, and stand on either side of the referee to await the decision. The referee then proclaims the winner by raising the winner wrestler’s hand in the air usually. Each wrestler then shakes hands with the referee and returns to shake hands with his opponent’s coach.


In freestyle wrestling, points can be scored in the following ways:

* Takedown (1 to 5 points): A wrestler gaining control over his opponent on the mat from a neutral position (when the wrestler is on his feet). At least three points of contact have to be controlled on the mat (e.g. two arms and one knee; two knees and one arm or the head; or two arms and the head).

(5 points) – For a takedown brought about by a throw of grand amplitude (a throw in which a wrestler brings his opponent off of the mat and controls him so that his feet go directly above his head) either from the standing or par terre position into a direct and immediate danger position.
(3 points) – Generally, for a takedown brought about by a grand amplitude throw that does not bring his opponent in a direct and immediate danger position or for a takedown in which a wrestler’s opponent is taken from his feet or his stomach to his back or side (a throw of short amplitude) so that he is in the danger position.

(1 point) – A wrestler taking his opponent from his feet to his stomach or side such that his back or shoulders are not exposed to the mat.

* Reversal (1 point): A wrestler gaining control over his opponent from a defensive position (when the wrestler is being controlled by his opponent).

* Exposure also called the Danger Position (2 or 3 points): A wrestler exposing his opponent’s back to the mat for several seconds, also awarded if one’s back is to the mat but the wrestler is not pinned. Criteria for exposure or the danger position is met when 1) a wrestler’s opponent is in a bridge position to avoid being pinned, 2) a wrestler’s opponent is on one or both elbows with his back to the mat and avoids getting pinned, 3) a wrestler holds one of his opponent’s shoulders to the mat and the other shoulder at an acute angle (less than 90 degrees), 4) a wrestler’s opponent is in an "instantaneous fall" position (where both of his shoulders are on the mat for less than one second), or 5) the wrestler’s opponent rolls on his shoulders. A wrestler in the danger position allows his opponent to score two points. An additional hold-down point may be earned by maintaining the exposure continuously for five seconds.
* Penalty (1 or 2 points): Under the 2004-2005 changes to the international styles, a wrestler whose opponent takes an injury time-out receives one point unless the injurëd wrestler is bleeding. Other infractions (e.g. fleeing a hold or the mat, striking the opponent, acting with brutality or intent to injure, using illegal holds, etc.) are penalized by an award of either one or two points, a Caution, and choice of position.
* Out-of-Bounds (1 point): Whenever a wrestler places his foot in the protection area, the match is stopped, and a point is awarded to his opponent.

Classification points are also awarded in an international wrestling tournament, which give most points to the winner and in some cases, one point to the loser depending on the outcome of the match and how the victory was attained. For example, a victory by fall would give the winner five classification points and the loser no points, while a match won by technical superiority with the loser scoring technical points would award three points to the winner and one point to loser.

The full determinations for scoring are found on pages 34 to 40 of the FILA International Wrestling Rules.

Scores no longer rewarded in Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling

In 2004, FILA radically changed the format and scoring of the international styles. Part of this involved eliminating two ways of scoring which are possible from the par terre, or ‘on the mat,’ position.

* Escape: A wrestler escaping his opponent’s control.
* Lifting: A wrestler successfully lifting an opponent in the defensive position and exposing his back.

Victory Conditions in Freestyle Wrestling
Compared to collegiate (scholastic or folkstyle) wrestling, the main style done in U.S. high schools, colleges, and universities, freestyle wrestling involves a greater emphasis on explosive action by both wrestlers, as opposed to one wrestler’s dominance and control of the other.

A match can be won in the following ways:

* Win by Fall: A fall, also known as a pin, occurs when one wrestler holds both his opponents’ shoulders on the mat simultaneously. In Greco-Roman and freestyle, a pin must be held long enough for the referee to "observe the total control of the fall" (usually about one or two full seconds). Then either the judge or the mat chairman concurs with the referee that a fall is made. (If the referee does not indicate a fall, and the fall is valid, the judge and the mat chairman can concur together and announce the pin.) A fall ends the match entirely regardless of when it occurs. In the United States, for the Kids freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling division (wrestlers ages 8 to 14) in competitions sponsored by USA Wrestling and in the Tots, Bantam, Midget, and Junior divisions (wrestlers ages 5 to 12) in competitions sponsored by the Amateur Athletic Union, it is specified that a pin must be held for two full seconds.
* Win by Technical Superiority (Also called Technical Fall): If one wrestler gains a six-point lead over his opponent at any time in the period, scores a five point throw (a throw where the person’s feet go directly above his head, also called a throw of grand amplitude), or scores two three point takedowns (taking an opponent from his feet to their back or sides so that there is shoulder exposure), the current period is declared over and he is declared the winner of that period.
* Win by Decision: If neither wrestler achieves either a fall or technical superiority, the wrestler who scored more points during the period is declared the winner of that period. If the score is tied by points at the end of a period, first, the number of cautions; next, the value of points gained; and finally, the last scored technical point are taken into account to determine the winner of the period. Generally, the wrestler who scored the last technical point would be awarded the period. If the score is tied at zero at the end of a period, the wrestlers go through a 30-second overtime procedure known as The Clinch in which the wrestlers are required to enter the clinch position and wrestle until a point is scored, or until one of the wrestlers breaks the clinch.

* Win by Default: If one wrestler is unable to continue participating for any reason or fails to show up on the mat after his name was called three times before the match begins, his opponent is declared the winner of the match by default, forfeit, or withdrawal.
* Win by Injury: If one wrestler is injured and unable to continue, the other wrestler is declared the winner. This is also referred to as a medical forfeit or injury default. The term also encompasses situations where wrestlers become ill, take too many injury time-outs, or bleed uncontrollably. If a wrestler is injured by his opponent’s illegal maneuver and cannot continue, the wrestler at fault is disqualified.

* Win by Disqualification: Normally, if a wrestler is assessed three Cautions for breaking the rules, he is disqualified. Under other circumstances, such as flagrant brutality, the match may be ended immediately and the wrestler disqualified and removed from the tournament.

Team Scoring

In an international wrestling tournament, teams enter one wrestler at each weight class and score points based on the individual performances. For example, if a wrestler at the 52.0 kg weight class finishes in first place, then his team will receive ten points. If he were to finish in tenth place, then the team would only receive one. At the end of the tournament, each team’s score is tallied, and the team with the most points wins the team competition.

Team Competition

A team competition or dual meet is a meeting between (typically two) teams in which individual wrestlers at a given weight class compete against each other. A team receives one point for each victory in a weight class regardless of the outcome. The team that scores the most points at the end of the matches wins the team competition. If there are two sets of competitions with one team winning the home competition and one winning the away competition, a third competition may take place to determine the winner for ranking purposes, or the ranking may take place by assessing in order: 1) the most victories by adding the points of the two matches; 2) the most points by fall, default, forfeit, or disqualificaiton; 3) the most matches won by technical superiority; 4) the most periods won by technical superiority; 5) the most technical points won in all the competition; 6) the least technical points won in all the competition. This works similarly when more than two teams are involved in this predicament.

Women’s wrestling
Freestyle is the only style used for international competition in women’s wrestling, possibly because of there being more strength usage in Greco-Roman. The rules for women’s freestyle wrestling, with some modifications, are largely the same as that for the men. The period lengths are the same, with a 30 second break between two periods. Women wear a special singlet, so that they will not simply have to wear a male’s singlet with a T-shirt underneath. Some small United States college wrestling clubs have women wrestle freestyle against Canadian universities mostly because of the limited number of wrestling programs in the United States. Most of the U.S. athletic organizations such as the NCAA do not sponsor women’s wrestling, while the Canadian Interuniversity Sport association does. (The National Collegiate Wrestling Association is sponsoring a women’s division beginning with the 2007-2008 season, based largely on collegiate wrestling rules.) Women’s wrestling made its Olympic debut at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.