Freestyle Wrestling Rules: A Beginner’s Guide

Freestyle wrestling is the thrilling mat showdown of the sports world, where sheer strength meets strategy, and there’s no holding back until the whistle blows. It’s the arena where athletes grapple, twist, and turn, all while trying to outmaneuver their opponent without scripted moves. Picture two gladiators locked in a dance of power and agility, and you’ve captured the essence of freestyle wrestling. Join us as we tackle this exhilarating sport’s rules (and the art). Prepare to be pinned by fascination as we dive deep into freestyle wrestling. 

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    What Is The History Of Freestyle Wrestling?

    Freestyle wrestling is a sport that has its origins in Greco-Roman wrestling. It was developed in the late 19th century to allow catch wrestlers to compete against one another. New York City held the first freestyle wrestling tournament in 1904.

    Freestyle wrestling is one of the three wrestling styles practiced worldwide. The other two are Greco-Roman wrestling and folkstyle wrestling. Unlike its counterpart, Greco-Roman wrestling, freestyle wrestling allows using the wrestler’s or their opponent’s legs in offense and defense. Freestyle wrestling is the most popular form of wrestling in the world. It is practiced extensively in America, Russia, Japan, India, Iran, and Turkey.

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    How Long Is A Freestyle Wrestling Match? How Do You Score and Win A Match?

    Freestyle wrestling aims to throw, takedown, or pin your opponent to the mat. A match consists of three two-minute periods. The wrestler who scores the most points in a period wins that period. The wrestler who scores the most points overall wins the match.



    There are two ways to score in freestyle wrestling: takedowns and near falls.

    takedown is when a wrestler takes his opponent down to the mat and controls him for two seconds. A near fall is when a wrestler has his opponent’s shoulders or back touching the mat for two seconds. Near falls are worth three points, while takedowns are worth two points.


    Winning A Match

    A wrestler wins a match in one of three ways:

    Pinning your opponent: A pin occurs when a wrestler has his opponent’s shoulders or back touching the mat for two seconds. A pin is also called a fall and results in an instant win.

    Technical superiority: A match can be won by technical superiority if one wrestler has a ten-point lead over his opponent at the end of the third period.

    Time limit: If neither wrestler has won the match after three periods, the game is decided by who has scored the most points. If there is still a tie, the match goes into overtime. Overtime consists of one three-minute period. The first wrestler to score any points wins the match.

    What Violations and Penalties Can a Wrestler Receive?



    Some violations can occur during a freestyle wrestling match. Some of the more common violations include:

    Illegal holds: Some illegal holds include headlocks, chokes, and full nelsons.

    Passivity: A wrestler can be called for passivity if he is not actively trying to take his opponent down or score points.

    Unsportsmanlike conduct: Includes any type of unsavory behavior such as taunting, trash-talking, or making obscene gestures.



    A wrestler receives penalties for violating the rules. Some of the more common penalties include:

    Caution  – a minor infraction such as passivity or stalling. This results in the wrestler losing one point in the match. A Warning – A more serious infraction, such as an illegal hold or unsportsmanlike conduct. A warning results in the loss of two points. 

    Disqualification – When a wrestler commits a significant infraction or receives three cautions or warnings. A disqualification results in the automatic loss of the match.

    Photo by Chris Chow on Unsplash

    What Equipment Is Required for a Freestyle Wrestler? What Is The Size Of The Mat?

    Freestyle wrestlers need very little equipment to compete. All that is required is a singlet (a one-piece tight-fitting uniform), a headgear, a mouthguard, and wrestling shoes. The rules do not require headgear in freestyle wrestling; many wrestlers wear it to protect their ears. The rules do not require mouthguards in freestyle wrestling, but they are strongly encouraged. Mouthguards help to prevent dental injuries and concussions. Wrestlers use wrestling shoes for traction and support when grappling on the mat. They have soles made from a unique material that helps grip the mat without slipping.

    Freestyle wrestling takes place on a mat covered with a thin foam layer. The mat is typically square and measures 16 feet on each side. The mat is divided into two 8-foot sections by a center line. Each wrestler begins the match in their area on the mat.


    What Are The Different Weight Classes for Women and Men in Freestyle Wrestling?

    Men’s Weight Classes (Olympics)

    Weight Class (kg) Weight Class (lbs)
    57 125.66
    61 134.48
    65 143.3
    70 154.32
    74 163.14
    79 174.16
    86 189.59
    97 214
    125 276

    Women’s Weight Classes (Olympics)

    Weight Class (kg) Weight Class (lbs)
    49 108.03
    55 121.25
    59 130.07
    64 141.1
    76 167.55
    87 191.8
    Over 87 Over 191.80


    Freestyle wrestling is a safe and exciting sport that people of all ages can enjoy. Now you have a good understanding of freestyle wrestling rules. Feel free to pin down an opportunity to watch a match and share this with others.