P I R A T E   W R E S T L I N G


Understanding wrestling:

Scoring, signals, and basic rules


Prepared by J. Thom


Wrestling, for the most part, is a high energy, fast paced event that keeps every spectator on the edge of their seat.  Being engulfed in a nerve-racking, nail-biting wrestling match is just one of the many elements of the sport that brings people back for more.  With all of the excitement going on, there are just as many rules and moves to know as well.


            Understanding all the technique, terminology, and scoring can be a confusing part of wrestling, for athletes and parents alike.  Through this rules interpretation literature, we hope to answer some basic questions so that our club parents can have a better understanding of what is going on.  Each year rules are changed, added, modified, or eliminated at the state level.  As a result, members of the Perkins Coaching staff go to Columbus every year in October to get the latest update on all of the changes.  In wrestling, it is difficult for most people to follow the moves or situations the kids are in, and not understanding how someone scored or what happened during a flurry of events can frustrate any parent.  Hopefully, these general guidelines presented below will help some of you get a better understanding of what is happening and how things are scored.  Please feel free to ask any of the club coaching staff if you need any further explanation of any rules, regulations, or scoring.


General summary about youth wrestling:


Most “Biddy” tournaments and matches run modified high school rules:  Wrestlers are assigned a color, either green or red, and may be given an ankle band to wear to help the referee identify the red/green wrestler.  Opponents ALWAYS shake hands before and after their matches, regardless of outcome.  Sportsmanship is very important to our club and its members.


In high school wrestling, there are three periods, 2-minute each.  Junior high is three 1½  minute periods,  and most youth events are 2 or 3 periods consisting of 1½  or 1 minute periods, depending on the type and style of tournament or match.  Overtime for youth matches (and Junior high) is sudden death, which means if the score is tied at the end of the regulation match, both wrestlers start Overtime in the neutral position (both on their feet).  The first one to score a takedown, wins.  High school uses a “Sudden Victory” rule, which is slightly different.  For most youth tournaments, when a wrestler scores a takedown, and then they go out of bounds, the action is stopped, and they will restart in the neutral position.  Some of the more advanced tournaments, or older age group/divisions, will allow top and bottom starting positions.  A lot of matches in youth wrestling end in a pin, but  many also win by decision.   A wrestler who scores a significant amount of points on his/her opponent may win by a technical fall.  This occurs when you score a victory by a margin of 15 points (for junior high and high school), 12 points for most youth wrestling events, the match is stopped and the leader is declared the winner. (Much like a 15 run rule in baseball).


Lets take a look at some basic vocabulary about scoring:


FALL:  This is also called a PIN.  A fall occurs when any part of both shoulders/shoulder blade area of either wrestler is held in contact with the mat for 2 consecutive seconds.  A fall is declared by the referee of the match.  When a fall or pin occurs, the match is over, and both opponents will return to the center and their starting positions.  They will shake hands, and the referee will raise the hand of the winner.


TECHNICAL FALL:  A Technical Fall occurs when one wrestler has scored a victory by a margin of 15 points  (example: 15-0, 23-8, 30-15, all three are Tech Falls).  At that point, the match is stopped and the winner is declared.  NOTE:  For some youth and summer wrestling events, Tech Falls are sometimes 12 or even 10 points, depending on the type of tournament or match.


NEAR FALL: A Near Fall, also know as backpoints, occurs when a wrestler has the opposing contestant on his back in a pinning situation.  If the opponent is held on his back for two to four seconds without actually being pinned, the controlling wrestling receives 2 Near Fall points.  If the controlling wrestler holds his opponent on his back for 5 seconds (the maximum), he will receive 3 Near Fall points.  The referee determines back points by counting aloud and waving his arm along in sequence with his count.  If the referee only waves once, or gets a one count, no backpoints are awarded.


TAKEDOWN: 60-70 percent of wrestling is done on your feet, so takedowns are important!  Scoring a takedown on an opponent is worth 2 points.  A takedown occurs when both wrestlers are in the neutral position (both on their feet), and one wrestler gets the other down on the mat and on top of him in a controlling manner. The referee will signal a takedown by holding up 2 fingers (like the peace sign) on his red or green wristband, depending on which wrestler scored the takedown.


REVERSAL: A reversal occurs when the wrestler on the bottom comes out from underneath the top wrestler, and gets behind him, in a continuous motion or move.  A reversal is worth 2 points, and is signaled by the referee while showing a "rolling " motion of his forearms and hands over and over, and awarding the designated wrestler 2 points.


ESCAPE: An escape occurs when the wrestler on the bottom comes up and out from underneath the top wrestler, gets to his feet, and breaks away from the controlling wrestler, and returns to the neutral position and faces his opponent on their feet.  An Escape is worth 1 point.




NEGATIVE SCORING (PENALTIES):  In wrestling there are a lot of illegal holds or moves, and also some actions (or lack of) that cause you to give up points to your opponents.  Here we will look at the main ones.


LOCKING HANDS:  Probably the number one penalty in young wrestlers.  Locking hands occurs when you are in the top position, and you try to secure or turn your opponent by locking your hands around his waist or mid-section without having a hold of his arm or wrist.  This will cost you 1 point in your match for locking hands.  Usually with young or beginner wrestlers, warnings are given instead of penalty points.  Penalty scoring for a high school or junior high match is a little different, as any illegal moves, slams, or holds are costly, and they all add up to a potential disqualification.


ILLEGAL SLAMS, MOVES, OR HOLDS:  These can be any number of things, but here we will use the example of a FULL NELSON.  This is a move in which the top wrestler puts both of his hands under the armpits and up onto the head of the opponent in an attempt to turn him onto his back.  This will cost you 1 point in your match.


STALLING: Stalling is basically the lack of effort to try and score on your opponent.  You can be called for stalling from the neutral position, as well as on the top or bottom position.  For example, in the neutral position when both wrestlers are on their feet, and one is backing away from the other, stalling could be called.  When both wrestlers are down on the mat and the bottom wrestler just clamps up and just lays there, or does not try to move or get out or away from the top wrestler, stalling can be called.  If the top wrestler is not trying to turn or put the bottom man on his back, he could be called for stalling.  And in some cases, if the referee feels that neither wrestler is doing anything to score or better their position, a double stalling call can be made against both wrestlers.  The first Stalling call is a warning, and the second time you are hit for it, it will cost a point.


CAUTIONS:  A caution is usually signaled for improper starting positions or false starts.  A caution is warned for twice, and the third one will cost a point.


So lets look at these negatives in a summary of how they would be scored in a junior high match:


Locking Hands or illegal slams holds, or moves:  1st offense: 1 Point, 2nd offense: 1 Point, 3rd offense: 2 Points, 4th offense Disqualification.


Stalling:  1st offense: Warning,  2nd offense: 1 Point,  3rd offense: 1 Point,  4th offense 2points,  5th offense: Disqualification.


Cautions:  1st offense: Warning,  2nd offense: Warning, 3rd offense: 1 Point, 4th offense: 1 Point, 5th offense: 2 Points, 6th offense: Disqualification




Finally, below are the official abbreviations used in scoring an actual match.

SCORING KEY (High School & Junior High)


T2 = Takedown                       


N2 = 2 point Near Fall                                              


N3 = 3 point Near Fall                                                          


N4 = 4 point Near Fall (special Criteria)                


R2 = Reversal                                                                                  


E1 = Escape                                                                        

TV1 = Technical Violation (locking hands)   (1 point)


P1 = Penalty, (illegal holds, slams.)     (1 point)                        


C = Caution                                                              


C1 = Points      (1 point)        


Sw = Warning (stalling)                                           


S1 = Stalling   (1 point)


I hope that this basic scoring and rules information has given you a better understanding of wrestling in general.  Please feel free to contact any of the coaches if you have any questions about anything.