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The objective of the sport of wrestling to force your opponent onto his back, to pin your opponent. A pin, also called a fall, occurs when any part of both shoulders or both shoulder blades (scapula) of either wrestler are in contact with mat for two (2) continuous seconds. A pin ends the match immediately. However, if neither wrestlers is pinned, the winner is the wrestler with the most points at the end of the match.

There are five ways to score points in a folk style wrestling match: Takedown, Escape, Reversal, Near-Fall, and Penalty

Freestyle and Greco

A match is a competition between two individual wrestlers of the same weight class. In freestyle wrestling, a jury (or team) of three officials (referees) is used. The referee controls the action in the center, blowing the whistle to start and stop the action, and supervises the scoring of holds and infractions. The judge sits at the side of the mat, keeps score, and occasionally gives his approval when needed by the referee for various decisions. The mat chairman sits at the scoring table, keeps time, is responsible for declaring technical superiority, and supervises the work of the referee and judge. To call a fall, two of the three officials must agree (usually, the referee and either the judge or the mat chairman).

Period Format

A wrestler wins the match when (s)he has won two out of three periods. For example, if one competitor were to win the first period 1-0 and the second period 1-0, the match would be over. However, if the other competitor were to win the second period, then a third and deciding period would result. Only a fall, injury default, or disqualification terminates the match; all other modes of victory result only in period termination. One side effect of this format is that it is possible for the losing wrestler to outscore the winner. For example, periods may be scored 3-2, 0-4, 1-0, leading to a total score of 4-6 but a win for the wrestler scoring fewer points. In Greco-Roman and freestyle, the format is now three two-minute periods. Before each match, each wrestler's name is called, and the wrestler takes his/her place at the corner of the mat assigned to his/her color. The referee then calls both of them to his/her side at the center of the mat, shakes hands with them, inspects their apparel, and checks for any perspiration, oily or greasy substances, and any other infractions. The two wrestlers then greet each other, shake hands, and the referee blows his/her whistle to start the period.

In freestyle, if the score is tied at 0-0 at the end of a two-minute period, the two contestants then wrestle in an overtime period known as The Clinch, that lasts for a maximum of 30 seconds. The referee will toss a colored disk, with a red-colored side and a blue-colored side. The wrestler who won the colored disk toss will have the advantage in the clinch position. The wrestler who lost the colored disk toss then places one leg in the middle of the central circle and the other leg outside of the central circle. The wrestler who won the colored disk toss then signals to the referee which leg (s)he will place in the middle of the central circle. After doing so, the wrestler who won then wraps both of his/her arms around the leg of his/her opponent that is in the central circle and then places his/her head on the outside of his/her opponent's thigh. The loser of the colored disk toss then places both of his/her hands on his/her opponent's shoulders. When the referee verifies that the clinch position is correct, the two contestants then wrestle. The first wrestler to score a point wins the period. If after 30 seconds, the wrestler who had the advantage in the clinch fails to score a point, his/her opponent would then receive a point and be declared the winner of the period.[25]

When the period (or match) has concluded, the referee stands at the center of the mat facing the officials' table. Both wrestlers then come, shake hands, and stand on either side of the referee to await the decision. The referee then proclaims the winner by raising the winner's hand. At the end of the match, each wrestler then shakes hands with the referee and returns to shake hands with his opponent's coach.

Match scoring

In freestyle wrestling, as well as in Greco-Roman wrestling, points are awarded mostly on the basis of explosive action and risk. For example, when one wrestler performs a grand amplitude throw that brings his/her opponent into the danger position, (s)he is awarded the greatest number of points that can be scored in one instance. Also, a wrestler who takes the risk to briefly roll on the mat (with his/her shoulders in contact with the mat) could give a certain number of points to his/her opponent. Scoring can be accomplished in the following ways:

  • Takedown (1 to 5 points): A wrestler is awarded points for a takedown when the wrestler gains control over his/her opponent on the mat from a neutral position (when the wrestler is on his/her feet). At least three points of contact have to be controlled on the mat (e.g. two arms and one knee; two knees and one arm or the head; or two arms and the head).

(5 points): Five points are awarded for a takedown brought about by a throw of grand amplitude (a throw in which a wrestler brings his/her opponent off of the mat and controls him/her so that his/her feet go directly above his/her head) either from the standing or par terre position into a direct and immediate danger position.

(3 points): Generally, three points are awarded for a takedown brought about by a short amplitude throw that does not bring his/her opponent in a direct and immediate danger position or for a takedown in which a wrestler's opponent is taken from his/her feet or his/her stomach to his/her back or side (a throw of short amplitude) so that (s)he is in the danger position.

(1 point): One point is awarded for a takedown brought about by a wrestler taking his/her opponent from his/her feet to his/her stomach or side such that his/her back or shoulders are not exposed to the mat and while in this position holding him/her down with control.

  • Reversal (2 point): A wrestler is awarded one point for a reversal when the wrestler gains control over his/her opponent from a defensive position (when the wrestler is being controlled by his/her opponent).
  • Classification points are also awarded in an international wrestling tournament, which give most points to the winner and in some cases, one point to the loser depending on the outcome of the match and how the victory was attained. For example, a victory by fall would give the winner five classification points and the loser no points, while a match won by technical superiority with the loser scoring technical points would award three points to the winner and one point to loser. Exposure also called the Danger Position (2 or 3 points): A wrestler is awarded points for exposure when the wrestler exposes his/her opponent's back to the mat for several seconds. Points for exposure are also awarded if one's back is to the mat but the wrestler is not pinned. Criteria for exposure or the danger position is met when 1) a wrestler's opponent is in a bridge position to avoid being pinned, 2) a wrestler's opponent is on one or both elbows with his/her back to the mat and avoids getting pinned, 3) a wrestler holds one of his/her opponent's shoulders to the mat and the other shoulder at an acute angle (less than 90 degrees), 4) a wrestler's opponent is in an "instantaneous fall" position (where both of his/her shoulders are on the mat for less than one second), or 5) the wrestler's opponent rolls on his/her shoulders. A wrestler in the danger position allows his/her opponent to score two points. An additional hold-down point may be earned by maintaining the exposure continuously for five seconds.
  • Penalty (1 or 2 points): Under the 2004-2005 changes to the international styles, a wrestler whose opponent takes an injury time-out receives one point unless the injured wrestler is bleeding. Other infractions (e.g. fleeing a hold or the mat, striking the opponent, acting with brutality or intent to injure, using illegal holds, etc.) are penalized by an award of either one or two points, a Caution, and a choice of position to the opponent. A wrestler whose opponent regularly refuses to take an ordered hold is awarded a point.
  • Out-of-Bounds: Whenever a wrestler places his/her foot in the protection area, the match is stopped, and one point is awarded to his opponent.
  • Stalling (1 point): A point awarded to the attacking wrestler whose opponent flees the hold or refuses to start.