707wrestle7Q: How does scoring in an individual wrestling match work?
A: There are five ways to score points in a wrestling match:

1) Takedown – (2 points) You score two points for taking your opponent down to the mat and controlling him/her.

2) Escape – (1 point) You score one point for getting away or getting to a neutral position when your opponent has you down on the mat.

3) Reversal – (2 points) You score two points when your opponent has you down on the mat and you come from underneath and gain control of your opponent.

4) Near Fall (Back Points) – (2 or 3 points) You get near fall points when you almost but not quite get your opponent pinned.

  • A near fall (near pin) is when…
    both shoulders are held for two seconds within four inches of the mat, or…
  • one shoulder touches the mat and the other shoulder is at a 45 degree angle coming down to the mat, or…
  • the wrestler is held in a high bridge or back on both elbows.

If a near fall lasts for two seconds, you get 2 points. If a near fall lasts for 5 seconds, you get 3 points.

5) 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
    Going off the mat to avoid wrestling (“fleeing the mat.”)
  • Grabbing clothing, the mat, or the headgear
  • Incorrect starting position or false start (You get two cautions before points are awarded).
  • Locked or overlapped hands: If you are 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.
  • Unnecessary roughness
  • Unsportsmanlike conduct
  • Flagrant Misconduct (ejection, the match is over)
  • Stalling (you get one warning before you are penalized and 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).

Q: How many periods in a match?
A: Normally three. At the elementary level, each period is normally 1 minute in length. There will be additional periods if overtime is required.

Q: How does team scoring work?
A: For Dual Meets, scoring is as follows:

  • Fall, Forfeit, Default, Disqualification – 6 team points
  • Technical Fall (getting ahead of your opponent by 15 points ends the match) – 5 team points
  • Major Decision (winning the match by 8 – 14 points) – 4 team points
  • Decision (winning the match by fewer than 8 points) – 3 team points


Q: Please explain the wrestling rules and scoring criteria.

The objective of wrestling is to pin your opponent, but it usually involves a takedown to accomplish this goal. As a matter of fact, it has been proven statistically that the wrestler who executes the first takedown in a match will win the match 85 to 90% of the time.
What is considered a takedown? Well, to set up a takedown, the wrestlers must be working from the neutral or standing position; a situation where neither wrestler has control. Then a takedown is scored when one of the wrestlers gains control over the other, causing his opponent’s supporting points (the area or areas in which most of the body weight is placed) to be the knees, thighs, buttocks, or hands.

In reference to out-of-bounds situations, a wrestler can be awarded a takedown as long as he or his adversary is in-bounds. Remember, the line around the mat is out-of-bounds. And don’t forget, a takedown can be awarded if the scoring wrestler’s feet are in-bounds and touching the mat. In years past, the scoring wrestler’s knees had to be in-bounds.

When the takedown is a achieved, the offensive man receives two match points. The double-leg drop, single-leg sweep, fireman’s carry, arm drag, snapdown and pancake are just a few types of takedowns.

The wrestler in control or on top is referred to as the offensive wrestler, while the wrestler on the bottom is the defensive matman. Keep in mind, only the defensive man can score an escape or reversal. For the bottom man to secure an escape, he must place himself in the neutral position, causing his opponent to lose control. The defensive wrestler may also be awarded an escape going out-of-bounds if his adversary is in-bounds at the completion of the move. The official will indicate one point for the wrestler who earns an escape. The stand-up, forward or granby roll, sit-out turn-in, and sit-out turn-out are examples of escape maneuvers.

The defensive wrestler may procure a reversal by moving from the bottom position to the top position, gaining control of his opponent either on the mat or on their feet. Like the escape, a reversal can be obtained crossing the out-of-bounds line if one of the wrestlers is in-bounds. The referee will designate two points for a reversal. The switch, side roll and peterson roll are examples of reversals.

Remember, one match point is awarded for an escape and two match points are given for a reversal.

Only the offensive (or top) wrestler can score a near fall. He may do so by causing the defensive wrestler…
(1) to spring into a high bridge,
(2) to lean back on his elbows,
(3) to expose his shoulders four inches or less to the mat, and
(4) to have one shoulder on the mat and the other 45 degrees or less above the mat.

The top wrestler can score two points by holding (for two seconds) the bottom wrestler in any of the above noted positions. Furthermore, if the offensive wrestler can secure a near fall for a continuous five-second period, he would then be awarded three match points for the maneuver.

Note, the official usually indicates a near-fall situation with an angular sweep of the arm, each sweep designating a second, but he will not signal any points until the near-fall hold is terminated.

In reference to the out-of-bounds line, if both shoulders are partially in-bounds or one shoulder is completely in-bounds, a near fall can be scored.

The half-nelson, cradle, three-quarter nelson, and armbar series are near-fall maneuvers that can ultimately lead to a “fall.”
The fall (or pin) terminates the match and no individual match points are necessary. Of course, the winner’s squad receives six team points. Now a fall occurs when both shoulders are forced to the mat for a period of two seconds in high school and only one second in college. The official mentally counts this time and indicates the fall by slapping the mat.

Normally, the offensive wrestler (the man in control) scores the fall. However, if the offensive grappler’s shoulders are somehow placed on the mat for the required time, a fall is awarded to the defensive wrestler.

Finally, in reference to the out-of-bounds line, if the shoulders are partially in-bounds or one shoulder is completely in-bounds, a fall may be called.
The best definition for an illegal hold would be “any maneuver used that could cause bodily harm intentionally or not.” Examples of illegal moves include full nelsons, overscissors, back bows, headlocks (without an arm encircled), forceful trips, pulling a thumb or less than four fingers, holds that restrict breathing or circulation, and any holds used for punishment alone.

Illegal maneuvers are penalized in the following manner: first and second offense – one match point for opponent; third offense – two match points for opponent; and fourth offense – disqualification from the match.

Note, a wrestler applying a legal hold shall not be penalized if his adversary turns it into an illegal hold. And whenever possible, an illegal move should be prevented by the official rather than penalized.
Any intentional act that is hazardous to an opponent’s physical well-being is considered unnecessary roughness.

Furthermore, if a hold is utilized for the sole purpose of punishment alone, the referee may see fit to declare unnecessary roughness. Such perpetrations as striking, kicking, butting with the head, elbowing, and forceful tripping are examples of this infraction.

Normally, the violator would be penalized as follows: first offense – one point; second offense – another point for his rival; third offense – two points for his adversary; and fourth offense – disqualification.

However, when the official believes the unnecessary roughness of the wrestler to be totally inexcusable, he can indicate a “flagrant misconduct” signal, which is an automatic disqualification and the deduction of ALL team points scored in the event. For example, a sucker punch to the jaw would fall under this category.
There are six technical violations in wrestling and all but one are penalized in the following

  • manner: First Offense – 1 penalty point (for opponent); Second Offense – 1 penalty point; Third Offense – 2 penalty points; Fourth Offense – Disqualification. “Leaving the Mat Proper” — No wrestler may completely step off the wrestling mat without permission of the referee.
  • “Intentionally Going Out-Of-Bounds” — If either wrestler goes out-of-bounds to avoid wrestling his opponent for any reason (except when near-fall points are scored), this technical violation will be enforced.
  • “Grasping of Clothing” — A contestant may grab nothing but his opponent while wrestling or this encroachment will be called. Furthermore, when a wrestler grasps his adversary’s uniform to prevent him from scoring , the appropriate penalty point(s) will be given along with any points his opponent may have obtained.
  • “Interlocking or Overlapping Hands” — The offensive (or top) wrestler may only lock or touch hands around his opponent’s body or both legs when he is scoring near-fall points or his antagonist stands up. If his rival scores points while he commits this violation, his opponent would also receive the stipulated penalty point(s). Note, the official can only stop the match to award point(s) when the bottom man is unable to gain an escape or reversal due to interlocking or overlapping hands.
  • “Incorrect Starting Position” — If a wrestler assumes an incorrect neutral or referee’s position, a technical violation would be called. This also includes false starts in both situations. Note, unlike other technical violations, the first two offenses are “cautioned” (The official will form a “C” with his hand.), and then penalized if the infraction occurs again. Furthermore, this technical violation is not on the “progressive penalty chart.” Thus, a wrestler can not be disqualified for an incorrect starting position or false start.

The unsportsmanlike rule for contestants covers two situations in which the penalty is administered differently. They are as follows:

  • Situation One — If the wrestler is unsportsmanlike during the bout, his opponent would be awarded match point(s) in the following manner:
  • First Offense – 1 point; Second Offense – 1 point; Third Offense – 2 points; Fourth Offense – Disqualification from the match.
  • Situation Two — If an unsportsmanlike act occurs prior to the first period or after the third period (or fall), the offending wrestler’s squad would lose one team point. On the second offense, he would be asked to leave the premises and his squad would lose another team point.

(Note: Flagrant misconduct at any time would result in immediate disqualification from the dual meet or tournament and the deduction of ALL team points earned.)

The lowering of shoulder straps while on the mat is considered an act of unsportsmanlike conduct. The only time it would not be penalized is if the wrestler received permission from the official to do so. Should this infraction occur before wrestling has started or after the completion of wrestling, it would be a deduction of one team-point from the offender’s squad. However, if the offense takes place during the match, the violator’s opponent would receive a match point.


Q: What about the hand signals from the referee during the match?
A: Please see figure below.