How to Watch Wrestling: An Introduction to Wrestling Scoring Rules


The football season is over and your basketball team sucks? Maybe you should become a wrestling fan *. It is a combat sport that does not carry the stigma of a high probability of brain trauma. B1G is the dominant force in wrestling more than any other sport in the NCAA, but wrestling can be confusing for beginners, so we are putting together a little guide to make it more enjoyable for you. Today we are going to talk about how scoring occurs in an individual match.

* Offer not valid for Maryland fans.

To begin with, there are three main types of wrestling. International competitions, such as the Olympic Games, are either freestyle or Greco-Roman. Wrestling in high school and college is called folkstyle (or scholasticism). We are going to talk about folk notation today.

On to the fun part, the scoring!

Escape (1) The easiest way to score is with a breakout. A wrestler in a low position who withdraws from his opponent’s grip and faces his opponent is awarded an evasion and 1 point. Most wrestlers choose low when choosing a position because of the relative ease of scoring via a breakout.

Disassembly (2) There are two ways to get a takedown. The most common way is for a wrestler to take off his opponent and control him from first position. This requires the wrestler to control both of his opponent’s legs. The eliminated wrestler does not have to go all the way to the mat, but if he places a hand (or any “third point”) on the mat, that is enough to mark the elimination.

The second (less common but much cooler) way to score a takedown is to force your opponent into the danger zone. (Kenny Loggins was obviously a wrestling fan) It’s when you don’t have control of your opponent from the highest position, but expose their shoulders to the mat at an angle of less than 90 degrees. When a wrestler is so exposed, the referee begins a count and if the controlling wrestler can keep his opponent in the danger zone for a count of three, he is awarded an out.

Inversion (2) When a wrestler is in the low position he can come up from the bottom and gain the high position, this is a knockdown and is worth two points.

Near fall (2 or 4) A near fall is when a wrestler exposes his opponent’s shoulders to the mat at an angle of 45 degrees or less. At this point, the referee will start a count and if the count reaches four, the wrestler is awarded a near drop of four points. If the count reaches two or three, the wrestler is awarded a near drop of two points.

Feet at the back (4 or 6) You will hear announcers say that a wrestler has scored 4 or 6 points for taking his opponent head to toe, but this is really just a combination of points of withdrawal and near drop when a wrestler takes his opponent from the feet to the back in one movement.

Riding time When a wrestler is in first position, a clock counts the time he spends in the lead. When that wrestler is at the bottom, he will count down to zero and then start accumulating time for the other wrestler. If at the end of the match, the race clock is greater than 60 seconds, that wrestler is awarded a point.

Pin / drop / drop: A pin, when you control your opponent and force both shoulders to the mat, ends the match on the spot and earns your team bonus points (which we’ll cover in another article) Here are the two current pin masters!

Technical offenses:

Stable The stall is called when a wrestler does not attempt to compete. It’s subjective and every official calls it a little differently, but you get a warning for the first stall call. Two more stall calls earns your opponent one point, and a fourth stall is worth two points. If you receive a fifth stall call, you are disqualified from the game in the same way as if you were pinned.

False start / Attention Here’s a familiar one for you football fans. If a wrestler makes a move before the referee signals the start, you get a false start violation. Each wrestler receives two warnings and 1 point is awarded for each false start after these warnings.

Hands clasped Locking your hands together in the up position is a 1 point penalty.

Illegal catches There is a long list of illegal holds (full nelson, armless head grip, choke hold, head scissors). I don’t know what they all are, but wrestlers do so you rarely see those calls.

Technical offenses Grabbing headgear is the most common, but others include unnecessary roughness, unsportsmanlike conduct, bodily slamming (which, if found to be egregious, can result in a DQ rather than just a point penalty) and running away from the mat (which I don’t think is called enough because the refs shy away and call the stall instead). All of these violations give your opponent a point.

That’s it for you guys. These are the means to score. Well, in a wrestling match anyway. Be sure to check out our other introductory wrestling articles for more.

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