Rules of Freestyle Wrestling | How it is Played?

Freestyle wrestling is a casual sport which is also part of the Olympic games. In this type of wrestling, you can grab your opponent below waist and use his legs for both attacking and defensive moves. In normal wrestling, you are allowed to perform some dangerous moves, jump from the ring ropes and enjoy the privilege to beat your opponent until he is down. But that’s not the case in freestyle wrestling.

Rules of Freestyle Wrestling

Despite being a casual sport, you have some rules to follow which make it less dangerous than typical wrestling that we see on television and martial arts. Both men and women can compete in freestyle wrestling, but only same genders wrestle with each other. There are certain categories like lightweight, heavyweight and middleweight based on which players fight high-level in tournaments. Same weight category players wrestle with each other.

Object of the Game

On watching, it looks similar to kabaddi but the difference is it is not a team game and there are no halves. The main aim is to take down your opponent and place their shoulder on the mat for 2 seconds – this is also called “pin” or “fall”. But that’s not the only way to win a fight, there’s more about it which we’ll discuss below.

How to Play?

Freestyle wrestling is a casual form of wrestling in which 2 players compete against each other and try to pin each other down by using legal techniques. Or, if the game ends with no Pin, then points given by judges determine the winner.

Freestyle wrestling has numerous banned moves and time restrictions in which it is mandatory to score a point. If you are curious to learn this sport, make sure you give the next complete section a thorough read.

General Rules of Freestyle Wrestling

  • There are banned moves in freestyle wrestling which must be avoided during wrestling. One of such moves is locking in a leg scissor move to the head or neck of the body of their opponent.
  • You can’t be passive during the game. If the referee thinks a player is being passive during the game, he can be placed on a shot clock of 30 seconds.
  • It is mandatory to score a point or concede a point during these 30 seconds otherwise the referee himself will give a point to the opponent. It is also called caution.
  • A player can be disqualified from the game if he receives three cautions during a fight.
  • For any illegal move, the referee can give points to your opponent.

Time Duration of Freestyle Wrestling

Freestyle wrestling matches are divided into 2 halves, each of 3 minutes.

Contest Field

Freestyle wrestling is fought on top of a large mat with eight sides. Fight circle is marked on the mat where the fight takes place.

Playing Equipment

Players wear typical freestyle wrestling uniforms, shoes, and keep a blood rag for use during the game. Here is how these equipment prove useful for players during the match:

Uniform: The uniform used in this type of wrestling is also known as a singlet. It is made of Lycra or spandex so it will fit tightly to the skin. In high-level and professional games, wearing this uniform is mandatory.

Wrestling Shoes: These shoes are worn by players during the contest for achieving perfect ground grip and easy mobility. You can’t use these shoes to injure your opponent or for gaining unfair advantage over him.

Blood Rag: It is rarely used but its purpose is to wipe away any blood or sweat that may occur due to intensive and tough fight or because of nerves.

Point Scoring in Freestyle Wrestling

Though it is freestyle wrestling, you have to be compliant of the rules and can only score points by going for legit moves. Each move adds a certain amount of points to your account.

Takedown (2 – 5 points)

Points scored depend on the quality of moves which is judged by judges. Takedown moves involve at least 3 points of contact (for e.g. two arms and one knee). A good example of this kind of move is throwing your opponent from standing positions in such a way that his legs are above your head.

Reversal Point (1 Point)

This is when a wrestler outfoxes his opponent and turns a defensive position into a striking one. Every reversal brings one point to the wrestler’s account.

Exposure (2-3 points)

This is a common way of winning points. You get 2-3 points when you put your opponent on to the back for a few seconds. The number of points you’ll get depends on the effectiveness and cleanliness of your move.

Penalty (1-2 points)

If a player backs away from the mat or persistently commits offenses he can be penalised. For any illegal move, the referee can award points to the opponent. Consistent violation results in caution, and three cautions can disqualify you from the game. However, a player also has the right to challenge caution which will be decided by judges if it was fair or not.

Out of Bounds (1 point)

When a player unconsciously or consciously places one foot outside the fight area, the opponent will get 1 point for out of bonds committed by their opponent.


Referee is responsible for the in-ring matters while the judges take care of the point scoring.

Famous Freestyle Wrestling Tournaments

Freestyle wrestling is part of olympics games. Also, senior and junior level championships take place every year. Moreover, countries like the USA organize several freestyle wrestling tournaments at the national level.

Governing Body

Freestyle wrestling is governed by United World Wrestling (UWW). Not only freestyle wrestling but several other forms of wrestling are catered by the same federation.