Rules of Wrestling

The rules below apply to the type of wrestling done in the United States in college, high school, junior high, and youth wrestling. This type of wrestling is often referred to as “folkstyle” wrestling. The rules for “freestyle” and “greco-roman” wrestling (which are done in the Olympics and international competitions), are slightly different…

So how does this work?

  • The primary object of the sport of wrestling is to “pin” your opponent.
  • A pin (which also called a “fall”), occurs when you put you opponent on their back, and hold any part of both their shoulders or both their shoulder blades in contact with the mat for two consecutive seconds.
  • If someone pins their opponent, the match is over – and they win.
  • If this cannot be achieved, then the wrestler who scores the most points wins.

There are five ways to score points in a wrestling match:

  • Takedown (2 points):  You score 2 points for taking your opponent down to the mat and controlling them.
  • Escape (1 point):  You score 1 point for getting away or getting to a neutral position if your opponent has you down on the mat.
  • Reversal (2 points):  You score 2 points when your opponent has you down on the mat and you come from underneath and gain control of your opponent.
  • Near Fall  or “Back Points” (2, 3 or 4 points):  You get near fall points when you almost (but don’t quite) pin your opponent.  You score near fall (or “near pin”) points when (i) you hold both shoulders of your opponent for two seconds within four inches of the mat, or (ii) one shoulder of your opponent touches the mat and the other shoulder is at a 45 degree angle coming down towards the mat, or (iii) you hold your opponent while they are in a high bridge or resting upon both elbows.  If the near fall lasts for two seconds, you get 2 points.  If a near fall lasts for 5 seconds, you get 3 points.  If your opponent requires the match be stopped for injury time during a near fall, you get 4 points.
  • Penalty Points – (1 or 2 points) Your opponent is awarded points if you commit the following infractions.
    • Illegal Holds – There are several holds that the referee will penalize you for without warning. (There are other holds call “potentially dangerous holds” which the referee might make you let go of but will not penalize you for).
    • Technical Violations:
      1. Going off the mat to avoid wrestling (“fleeing the mat.”)
      2. Grabbing clothing, the mat, or the headgear
      3. Incorrect starting position or false start (You get two cautions before points are awarded).
      4. Locked or overlapped hands: If you’re down on the mat in control of your opponent, you cannot lock or overlap your hands, fingers or arms around your opponent’s body or both legs unless you have your opponent in a near pin, or your opponent stands up and has all his/her weight on two feet.
      5. Leaving the mat during the match without referee’s permission
      6. Figure 4 head scissors from the neutral position
      7. Unnecessary roughness
      8. Unsportsmanlike conduct
      9. Flagrant Misconduct (ejection, the match is over)
      10. Stalling (you get one warning before points are awarded).  The first and second time you are penalized, your opponent is awarded one point. The third time you are penalized, your opponent is awarded two points. The fourth time you are penalized, you are disqualified. (Except for illegal starting position or false start – you are cautioned twice, then one point awarded for each infraction, but you will not be disqualified).