Beginner’s Guide To Understanding Wrestling

The Match:

A wrestling match consists of 3, one minute periods. During each period a wrestler tries to score points by executing various moves – escape, take down, reversal, near fall, etc. The wrestler with the most points at the end of the match wins.

Each wrestler will wear an ankle band – one wears green and the other wears red. The referee will wear corresponding red and green wrist bands – one on each wrist. When a wrestler scores points, the referee will hold up the hand with the colored wristband of the wrestler scoring the points and indicate the number of points scored by holding up that many fingers. Points are kept on a scoreboard or a flip type scoring mechanism in plain view.

In the first period each wrestler starts in the neutral position (standing up). They will face each other shake hands and start at the referee’s whistle. The wrestlers will take turns attempting to gain control of their opponent on the ground.

To start the second period, the referee flips a coin and the wrestler who wins the coin flip is given the choice of:

  • starting in the neutral position or…
  • top or bottom in the referee’s position(in this position one wrestler is on hands and knees and the other wrestler kneels beside on one knee grasping the other wrestler’s waist and elbow) or…
  • the wrestler can defer to the other wrestler and let them decide.

To start the third period the other wrestler is given the choice of starting positions.

In the event of a tie both wrestlers will be started in the neutral position in a sudden victory round. First person to score is the victor. (Washington Little Guy Wrestling League does not have overtime the first person to score in the match wins in the event of a tie)

The Action
Sometimes during the match the referee will stop the action for various reasons:

  • out of bounds(beyond the large circle)
  • headgear or shoes might have fallen off
  • potentially dangerous hold

The referee will restart the match by bringing the wrestlers to the center of the mat and – if neither wrestler had control of the other when the match was stopped, they will restart in the neutral position.

If one wrestler had control of the other when the match was stopped, that wrestler will get to restart on top, in the referee’s position.

If the referee stops the match for any reason, time is also stopped. Time is restarted when the referee restarts the match.

The match ends when time has expired or one wrestler pins (see Scoring below) the other or scores a Technical Fall (see Scoring below).

Each wrestler will be brought back to the center of the match and the referee will raise the hand of the winner and instruct both wrestlers to shake hands before leaving the mat.

It is common practice for each wrestler to also shake the hand of the opposing coach – and thank the referee.

There are several ways for a wrestler to score points in a match:

Takedown– 2 points – Accomplished from a neutral position when one wrestler takes the other to the mat and gains control of that wrestler. Many times you’ll see the points for a takedown delayed until the referee determines that one wrestler has control.

Escape– 1 point – A wrestler that is being controlled by the other wrestler breaks that control.

Reversal– 2 points – A wrestler that is being controlled by the other wrestler breaks that control and immediately gains control of the other wrestler.

Near Fall– 2 or 3 points – Points are awarded for holding opponents shoulders at 45 degrees or less, to the mat, for two seconds (2 points) or five seconds (3 points).

Penalty– 1 or 2 points – Awarded to a wrestler for illegal holds, infractions, technical violations, stalling, or unsportsmanlike conduct committed by the other wrestler. Wrestlers are usually given a warning for the first offense. If the violations continue the referee could disqualify the offender and award the match to the opponent.

Frequently Used Wrestling Terminology

CAUTION: A ruling made by the referee where one wrestler is called for stalling, a false start, wrong starting position, etc. A second offense is a penalty. See: Stalling, Warning.

CONTROL: A position of advantage where one wrestler maintains restraining power over the other. This usually means that the other wrestler is off his feet and on the mat.

CRADLE: A pinning situation where the offensive wrestler has his opponent’s head and one of his legs encircled, usually with his arms. In a pinning situation, locking of the hands is legal.

ESCAPE: When the defensive wrestler gains a neutral position and his opponent has lost control while either wrestler is inbounds, Counts for one (1) point.

FALL: Also called a “Pin.” When either both shoulders and or both shoulder blades are held in contact with the mat for two (2) continuous seconds. It terminates the match and is worth six (6) team points.

LEG BANDS: In tournaments, the contestants wear leg bands to identify which one is being scored as the home wrestler and which is the away wrestler. The green leg band is for home, the red for away. Scoring cards, when used, are also green and red. The referee’s coin is green on one side and red on the other. It is used to determine which wrestler chooses the starting position at the beginning of the second period.

LOCKING HANDS: Interlocking or overlapping hands, arms or fingers around the opponent’s body is illegal, except when both wrestlers are on their feet or in a pinning (near fall) situation.

MATCH: Individual contest between two wrestlers.

MEET: A contest between two wrestling teams. Each team may have one wrestler in each weight class. Team points are awarded on the basis of the results of individual matches between wrestlers. See: Points (Team), Tournaments.

NEAR FALL: A near fall occurs when the offensive wrestler has control of his opponent in a pinning situation. It involves holding the shoulders or shoulder blades within four (4) inches of the mat or holding one (1) shoulder or shoulder blade on the mat and the other is held at a 45-degree angle for two (2) seconds. It is awarded when the defensive wrestler gets out of the pinning situation. A nearfall is two (2) points if held for two (2) seconds or three (3) points if held for five (5) seconds.

NEUTRAL POSITION: A position where neither wrestler has control.

POINTS (MATCH): Awarded for a takedown (2 points), escape (1 point), reversal (2 points), and nearfall (2 or 3 points). Penalty points are awarded for warnings. See: Warnings.

REFEREE’S POSITION: A starting position where one wrestler is in a defensive position (on hands and knees) and the other is in an offensive position (positioned over the other, normally with at least one knee on the mat).

REVERSAL: When the defensive wrestler comes from underneath and gains control over his opponent either on the mat or in a near-standing position, while either wrestler is inbounds, Counts two (2) points.

STALLING: A caution by the referee when one of the wrestlers fails to make a reasonable effort to wrestle aggressively. An offensive wrestler must make a reasonable effort to pin his opponent; a defensive wrestler, to escape.

STARTING POSITION: The wrestlers begin each period either in the neutral or referee’s position. The first period always starts in the neutral position. For the second period, a coin toss decides which wrestler chooses the starting position. He elects the neutral, offensive or defensive position, or he may defer his choice. Unless he defers, the other wrestler chooses the starting position for the third period. When the wrestlers go out of bounds, either the neutral or referee’s starting position is used, depending on whether one wrestler has control. See: Leg Bands, Neutral Starting Position, Referee’s Starting Position.

TAKEDOWN: When one wrestler gains control over the other down on the mat from a neutral position while either wrestler is inbounds. A takedown is normally awarded when one or both of the defensive wrestler’s knees are down on the mat, Counts two (2) points.

TECHNICAL FALL: It occurs when one wrestler has accumulated fifteen (15) points more than his opponent. It terminates the match and is worth five (5) team points.

TOURNAMENT: A contest between several schools where wrestlers are divided into weight brackets. Each school may have one or more wrestlers per bracket. Normally, wrestlers in each bracket are seeded according to past records. Team points are given on the basis of the final placement of its wrestlers. See: Leg Bands.

WARNING: A ruling made by the referee when one wrestler has made an illegal or potentially dangerous hold or other serious violation. False starts or stalling is given a caution for the first offense. A first or second warning awards the opposing wrestler one (1) point, a third two (2) points; a fourth results in disqualification of the offending wrestler. See: Caution.

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