Folkstyle Wrestling Rules Made Simple

The object of the sport of wrestling is to put your opponent on his back — to pin your opponent.

A pin (or fall) is when you put your opponent on his/her back with any part of both shoulders or both shoulder blades of your opponent in contact with the mat for two seconds. When you pin your opponent, the match is over and you are the winner.

If nobody gets pinned, the winner is the wrestler who has scored the most points during the match..

There are five ways to score points in a wrestling match:

TAKEDOWN -Get your opponent down and control them (get behind them)
ESCAPE – Get away from your opponent when they have control
NEARFALL – Once they are down turn your opponent on their back (over 45 degrees) for 1-4 seconds
NEARFALL – Once they are down turn your opponent on their back (over 45 degrees) for 5 seconds or more
PENALTY – Your opponent is awarded points if you commit the following infractions. (NFHS penalty chart AT THIS LINK)


        • Illegal Holds – There are several holds that the referee will penalize you for without warning. (There are other holds called “potentially dangerous holds” which the referee might make you let go of but will not penalize you for).
        • Technical Violations
          Going off the mat or forcing your opponent off the mat to avoid wrestling
          Grabbing clothing, the mat, or the headgear
          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 met criteria for a near pin of your opponent, or your opponent stands up and has all his/her weight on two feet, or you have lifted the opponent off the mat.
          Leaving the mat during the match without the referee’s permission
          Reporting to the mat not properly equipped or not ready to wrestle, or equipment that is detected as being illegal after the match has started
        • Unnecessary roughness
        • Unsportsmanlike conduct
        • Flagrant Misconduct (ejection, the match is over)
        • Stalling (you get one warning before you are penalized and points are awarded).
        • Incorrect starting position or false start (You get two cautions before 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. In the event of Flagrant Misconduct, you are ejected from the match on the first offense, you lose the match, and 3 team points are deducted).


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