Anatomy of a Match:Lionheart’s Guide for New Parents
Wrestling is an exciting and challenging sport that can be enjoyed by both boys and girls of all ages. If your child is new to wrestling, it can be overwhelming to understand the scoring and the different moves used in matches. But don't worry, Lionheart’s guide will help you understand the basics of wrestling, including the different positions, scoring, ways to score, how score is kept, and types of victories, and more. You’ll be a pro in no time!
In wrestling, there are three positions: offensive (top), defensive (bottom), and neutral (standing).
• The offensive wrestler is in control and usually on top of the defensive wrestler.
• The defensive wrestler is fighting to become the offensive wrestler by gaining control.
• Neutral is when neither wrestler has control (no one is clearly offensive or defensive yet).
All bouts start with both wrestlers in a neutral position. In the second and third periods of a bout, each wrestler gets a chance to choose to be on offense (top) or defense (bottom). This is handled by a coin toss.
The main objective of wrestling is to pin your opponent. In the process, you will get points for different things that you do. If no one is pinned at the end of the bout, the wrestler with the most points wins.
Ways to Score
Here are the different ways that wrestlers can score points:
• Takedown (2 points): Scored when a wrestler gains control and becomes the offensive wrestler from the neutral stance. Control is defined as getting behind the opponent and taking them to the mat or taking them directly to their back without getting behind them and becoming the offensive wrestler.
• Reversal (2 points): Awarded to a wrestler when they go from the defensive position to the offensive position and take control away from the opponent. If a wrestler is on the bottom and gets to the top without an escape, they are awarded a reversal.
• Escape (1 point): Scored when a defensive wrestler gets away from the offensive wrestler and becomes neutral. This happens most commonly when a wrestler chooses to start on the bottom in the second or third period.
• Near Fall (3-second) (2 points): When you have your opponent on their back, and their back is at an angle to the mat of 45 degrees or less, the referee will start waving their hand to signify a count. If the angle is maintained for 3 seconds, the offensive wrestler is awarded 2 points.
• Near Fall (5-second) (3 points): Same as a 3-second near fall, but the 45 degree angle must be maintained for a 5-second count. After a 3-point near fall is awarded, no more near falls will be awarded until the defensive wrestler gets off their back and then is moved back into a new near fall.
• Penalty (1 point to opponent): There are several penalties which would cause a referee to award a penalty point to your opponent. Locking hands is most common, and you will see the ref clasp their hands together in the air right before they award the penalty. Other penalty points can be awarded for things like stalling (not trying to get a pin, doing nothing to maintain a point lead, not trying to gain control), swearing, kicking, scratching, biting, hitting, body slamming, or bending any body part beyond its normal range of motion (you may hear this referred to as “potentially dangerous” and it will stop the bout temporarily). Some egregious penalties can cause a wrestler to be ejected from the match or competition.
How Score is Kept
During the beginning of the match, wrestlers put on a green or red ankle band. Referees also wear a green and red wrist band. When a wrestler scores, the referee raises the hand with the same color wristband as the wrestler's ankle band and shows the number of points scored. Two scorekeepers keep track of the score, and the scoreboard displays green and red scores that change based on the color of the wristband and the number of points the referee shows.
Types of Victories
Based on how you win your bout, the win can be categorized in several ways.
• Pin/Fall - Can happen at any time in a bout and ends the bout. At the referee’s discretion, if both shoulders of the defensive wrestler are touching the mat, the wrestler is pinned.
• Technical Fall - Also can happen at any time in the bout, when one wrestler takes a 15 point or greater lead, the bout is over and the wrestler is awarded a technical fall.
• Major Decision - Can only happen when the match is over, awarded when a wrestler wins by 8-14 points.
• Decision - Can only happen when the match is over, awarded when a wrestler wins by 1-7 points.
• Forfeit - A forfeit victory is awarded when a wrestler does not have an opponent to wrestle (usually because their opponent didn’t show up).
• Disqualification - A wrestler wins a match by disqualification when the opponent is disqualified from the match because of too many penalties or when a wrestler is illegally injured by an opponent’s illegal hold and cannot continue wrestling.
A bout consists of three periods. Duration of the periods depends on the age group, but generally are 1 minute to 1 minute and 30 seconds each. If the score is tied at the end of the match, then overtime periods are added. Overtime rules are as follows.
• The first overtime (4th period) is one minute and starts with both wrestlers in the neutral position and is an instant win. Whomever scores the first points wins the match. If the score is still tied after the 4th period, the referee flips the token and gives that wrestler the choice of top, bottom or neutral for the 30 second 5th period.
• Regardless of the points after the 5th period, the second wrestler has the choice of top, bottom for neutral for a 30 second 6th period. If the score is still tied after the 6th period, the wrestler who scored the first points has a choice of top, bottom or neutral. If the wrestler on the bottom escapes, they win. The wrestler on top wins if the wrestler on the bottom does not escape.
Wrestling is a challenging but rewarding sport for your child. Knowing the positions, ways to score, and types of victories will help you understand and enjoy your child's matches. Remember that wrestling is not just about winning, but also about learning, growing, and developing important life skills such as discipline, perseverance, and sportsmanship. Encourage your child to have fun, work hard, and always try their best, win or lose.