How To Win A Wrestling Match

Wrestling is a rewarding yet challenging sport that takes practice and determination. For three periods, wrestlers attempt to win using various takedowns, reversals, and escapes, all of which are worth a different amount of points. But how do you win a match overall?

How To Win A Wrestling Match

To win a wrestling match, you must outscore or pin your opponent. If you gain a 14-point lead, regardless of the round, you will be declared the victor. Otherwise, the person with the most points at the end of the third round is the winner. In the event of a draw, the bout goes into overtime.

As mentioned, there are a number of different ways to gain points in wrestling, meaning there are multiple ways to win a match. So, let’s take a closer look at wrestling bouts and some of the moves you can use to defeat your opponents. 

How Is A Wrestling Match Scored?

A wrestling match is scored based on takedowns, reversals, near falls, escapes, and penalty points. Escape moves, such as the Granby roll, are worth one point, whereas near falls, like the half-nelson, will get two or three points if done correctly. Takedowns and reversals are worth two points each.


Takedowns are the most common scoring method in a match and are worth two points each. This move is used to bring an opponent to the mat where they can be better controlled, which is vital for scoring points, pinning, and winning. 

To successfully complete a takedown:

  • Start in a neutral position. No points will be awarded if one player already has the upper hand.
  • Force the opponent to the ground against their will. This means that the opponent must not pull the person performing the move down in any way. 


Escapes happen when one wrestler can get out of a position or hold and return to a neutral stance. For example, you may see an escape happen after a takedown if the wrestler can get out of the hold. 

During an escape, the wrestler is not starting in a neutral position. Instead, they are finding a way to escape their opponent. 

Escapes are worth one point during a bout, but they’re not easy to get. To escape from an opponent, a wrestler needs to outwit them or hope for a momentary loss of focus or control. 


Reversals are similar to escapes, but they do not end in a neutral position. Instead, reversals end with the wrestler gaining the upper hand on their opponent.

In wrestling terms, a wrestler must come from underneath and take control over a situation.  Because these are more challenging, reversals are worth two points. 

Near Falls

Near falls happen during a wrestling match when a wrestler comes close to pinning their opponent. 

To achieve a near-fall score, a wrestler needs to get their opponent in a vulnerable position that does not count as a pin.

This usually involves something close to a pin where the opponent’s back is exposed but not against the mat. 

Points for near falls vary based on how long the hold lasts. For example:

  • If the opponent is held vulnerable for two seconds, the wrestler gets two points. 
  • If they hold their opponent for 5 seconds, then the wrestler is awarded three points at the high school level and four at the college level. 

So, near falls can be worth a lot of points when done effectively. 

Penalty Points

Penalty points are awarded to the opponent when the wrestler commits an infraction. Some reasons for penalty points include: 

  • Stalling
  • Unnecessary roughness
  • Unsportsmanlike conduct 

These infractions can award the opponent one or two points depending on the severity of the offense. Penalty points are the only way to score points without trying or actively doing something to earn them.

These points rely on the actions of your opponent solely. So, don’t count on these when trying to win your match. 

How Long Is A Wrestling Match?

A wrestling match is typically around seven minutes long and lasts over three periods, varying in time between one and three minutes. The time of each period varies based on the wrestling level. 

The length of a wrestling match varies based on the skill level of the wrestlers. For example:

  • Most high school bouts last for about six minutes. Each period should last for two minutes, but they can be stopped early, and the time doesn’t account for overtime.
  • College wrestling starts with a three-minute period followed by two periods both lasting two minutes. This means the average college wrestling match lasts for about seven minutes without overtime. 

Overtime typically doesn’t last long, with the first wrestler to score points being named the winner. 

So, it typically does not add much time to the overall length of a wrestling match unless there are no points scored by either wrestler, in which case there may be a second overtime period. 

Tips For Winning A Wrestling Match

Wrestling matches can be tough to win, especially when you’re just getting started. That said, we’ve gathered a few tips to help you win a wrestling match: 

  • Don’t be afraid to strike offensively first. Staying on the defensive can mean you have to get yourself out of sticky situations later on. 
  • Only use moves that you have practiced and mastered. Using new moves can lead to a loss or even injury if done incorrectly. 
  • If your opponent is stronger than you, you need to out-technique them during the match. This often means changing your strategy as the bout progresses.
  • Don’t let anything upset you during a match. Penalties, among other things, can affect your attitude, but they also lead to extra points for your opponent.
  • Don’t stop until the referee blows the whistle. There may be times when a penalty is not called, or a match is not stopped when it should be. Don’t allow your opponent to get the upper hand because you anticipated a whistle but didn’t get one. 

Winning a wrestling match is not an easy feat, but you can do so by outscoring and pinning your opponent. 

It is essential to focus on the score and maintain a lead over your opponent during a bout, but don’t let that make you lose focus on your opponent’s actions. 

In rare cases, you may find yourself ahead by 14 points, which leads to an automatic win. But that’s not something to rely on. Instead, practice your moves and work on successfully controlling your opponent.

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