Wrestling Scoring

Wrestling Scoring

Wrestling match scoring is easy to follow once you understand the scoring system. This wrestling Scoring & Penalties page will give you a good start getting to know how the scoring of a wrestling match is done.

The #1 objective of the sport of wrestling to force your opponent onto his back and pin him/her.. 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 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.

Takedown2 PointsFrom a neutral position (both standing with neither wrestler having control) a wrestler gains control over his opponent down on the mat while the supporting parts of either wrestler are in bounds
Escape1 Point When a defensive (bottom) wrestler gains a neutral position and his opponent has lost control while at least one wrestler is in bounds.
Reversal2 Points When the defensive wrestler comes from the bottom position and gains control of his opponent, either on the mat or in a rear standing position, while the supporting points of either wrestler are in bounds. 
Near Fall2 or 3 Points When near fall criteria is met for 2 seconds. Near fall criteria is:


  • when any part of both shoulders or scapula of the defensive wrestler are held for a least 2 seconds within four inches of the mat; 
  • or when one shoulder or scapula is touching the mat with the other shoulder or scapula held at an angle of 45 degrees or less.

If near fall criteria is met for two continuous seconds, 2 points are awarded when the defensive wrestler is out of the predicament, or when the period ends. If near fall criteria is met for five continuous seconds a 3 point near fall is awarded when the defensive wrestler is out of the near fall situation, or when the period ends.

Penalty1 Point
A wrestler is awarded point(s) for technical violations or infractions of the rules committed by his opponent. These points are awarded according to the penalty chart.

The wrestler in control or on top is referred to as the offensive wrestler, while the wrestler on the bottom is the defensive wrestler. Keep in mind, only the defensive wrestler can score an escape or reversal. One match point is awarded for an escape and two match points are given for a reversal.

Escapes: For the bottom man to secure an escape, he must place himself in the neutral position, causing his opponent to lose control. The defensive wrestler may also be awarded an escape going out-of-bounds if his adversary is in-bounds at the completion of the move. The official will indicate one point for the wrestler who earns an escape. The stand-up, forward or Granby roll, sit-out turn-in, and sit-out turn-out are examples of escape maneuvers.

Reversals: The defensive wrestler may procure a reversal by moving from the bottom position to the top position, gaining control of his opponent either on the mat or on their feet. Like the escape, a reversal can be obtained crossing the out-of-bounds line if one of the wrestlers is in-bounds. The referee will designate two points for a reversal. The switch, side roll and Peterson roll are examples of reversals.

Infraction Warning1st Time2nd Time3rd Time 4th Time
Illegal HoldsNo 1pt 1pt 2pt Disqualify
Unnecessary Roughness No 1pt 1pt 2pt Disqualify
Unsportsmanlike ConductNo 1pt 1pt 2pt Disqualify
Stalling Yes 1pt 1pt 2pt Disqualify
Technical Violations No 1pt 1pt 2pt Disqualify 

Takedowns are scored when one wrestler brings the opponent down to the mat from a standing position. A wrestler can be awarded a takedown as long as the opponent is in-bounds. When the takedown is a achieved, the offensive man receives two match points. There are many situations where it may appear that one wrestler is in control and should be given a takedown, but if the opponent who appears to have been taken down has a leg or the head of the wrestler on top, the referee will not award any points until one wrestler has complete control.

The top wrestler can score two points by holding the bottom wrestler in a near fall situation for two seconds. If the offensive wrestler can secure a near fall for a continuous five-second period, he would then be awarded three match points for the maneuver when the maneuver has ended.

Note, the official usually indicates a near fall situation with an angular sweep of the arm, each sweep designating a second, but he will not signal any points until the nearfall hold is terminated. If both shoulders are partially in-bounds or one shoulder is completely in-bounds, a near fall can be scored. The fall occurs when both the shoulders of either wrestler come in contact with the mat for a period of two seconds. The official will mentally counts this time and then indicate the fall by slapping the mat with his hand.

Normally, the offensive wrestler (the man in control) scores the fall. However, if the offensive grappler’s shoulders somehow come in contact with the mat for the required time, a fall is awarded to the defensive wrestler. If the shoulders are partially in-bounds or one shoulder is completely in-bounds, a fall may be called. A Technical Fall is achieved when a wrestler outscores his opponent by 15 points at any point in the match, at which point the match is stopped, and the wrestler with the 15 point advantage is declared the winner. A Decision is achieved when a wrestler outscores his opponent by 1 to 7 points at the conclusion of the match. A Major Decision is achieved when a wrestler outscores his opponent by 8 to 14 points at the conclusion of the match. The best definition for an illegal move/hold would be “any maneuver used that could cause bodily harm intentionally or not.” Examples of illegal moves include full nelsons, head scissors, back bows, headlocks (without an arm encircled), forceful trips, pulling a thumb or less than four fingers, holds that restrict breathing or circulation, and any holds used for punishment alone.

Illegal maneuvers are penalized in the following manner: first and second offense – one match point for opponent; third offense – two match points for opponent; and fourth offense – disqualification from the match.

Note, a wrestler applying a legal hold shall not be penalized if his adversary turns it into an illegal hold. And whenever possible, an illegal move should be prevented by the official rather than Any intentional act that is hazardous to an opponent’s physical well-being is considered unnecessary roughness.

Furthermore, if a hold is utilized for the sole purpose of punishment alone, the referee may see fit to declare unnecessary roughness. Actions such as striking, kicking, head-butting, elbowing, and forceful tripping are examples of unnecessary roughness.

Normally, the violator would be penalized as follows: first offense – one point; second offense – another point; third offense – two points; and fourth offense – disqualification. There are six main technical violations in wrestling.

1) Leaving the Mat: No wrestler may completely step off the wrestling mat without permission of the referee.

2) Intentionally Going Out-Of-Bounds: If either wrestler goes out-of-bounds to avoid wrestling his opponent for any reason (except when nearfall points are being scored), this technical violation will be enforced.

3) Grasping of Clothing: A contestant may grab nothing but his opponent while wrestling or this encroachment will be called. Furthermore, when a wrestler grasps his adversary’s uniform to prevent him from scoring , the appropriate penalty point(s) will be given along with any points his opponent may have obtained.

4) Clasping: (Interlocking or Overlapping Hands While on Offense) The offensive (or top) wrestler may only lock or touch hands around his opponent’s body or both legs when he is scoring nearfall points or his antagonist stands up. If his rival scores points while he commits this violation, his opponent would also receive the stipulated penalty point(s). Note, the official can only stop the match to award point(s) when the bottom man is unable to gain an escape or reversal due to interlocking or overlapping hands.

5) Incorrect Starting Position: If a wrestler assumes an incorrect neutral or referee’s position a technical violation may be called. This also includes false starts in both situations. Note, unlike other technical violations, the first offense is “cautioned” (The official will form a “C” with his hand.), and then penalized if the infraction occurs again. Furthermore, this technical violation is not on the “progressive penalty chart.” Thus, a wrestler can not be disqualified for an incorrect starting position or false start.

6) The Figure-4 Head Scissors: The figure-4 head scissors is a technical violation. Wrestlers are considered to be in-bounds if two supporting parts (hands, elbows, knees, feet, side of the thighs, and buttocks) of either wrestler are inside the boundary line.. Wrestling continues as long as there are two supporting part in-bounds

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