What is Leg Wrestling?


If you were a boy scout, you would likely be familiar with leg wrestling. This fun sport is often played at family gatherings or social events. It was made famous by the scouts, but the roots of this sport can be traced back to Native American tribes hundreds of years ago. 

What is Leg Wrestling?

Leg wrestling is an informal form of wrestling where competitors use only one leg to flip each other over while lying down on the ground side by side. Despite its informality,  some leg wrestling leagues and tournaments take place in the U.S every year. 

The rest of this article will discuss leg wrestling further, which include:

  • The rules of leg wrestling and why it is referred to as Indian leg wrestling.
  • Winning techniques for leg wrestling.
  • What you need for leg wrestling.
  • How you can compete in leg wrestling. 

What Are the Rules of Leg Wrestling? 

The rules of leg wrestling involve two contestants lying down on the ground with their legs facing in opposing directions. Each player then lifts their inside leg in the air while keeping their other leg flat on the floor. After counting to 3, the players try to flip each other over with one leg. 

During the countdown from 3, each player lifts their leg at three then returns it to the ground. This step is repeated for two, and then at 1, players lock legs with each other and attempt to flip each other over. 

A winner is declared when a competitor has flipped over their opponent using only one leg. Games usually consist of either a best of 3 or a tournament where the losers are eliminated until only one player is remaining. 

Why Is It Called Indian Leg Wrestling?

Leg wrestling is called Indian leg wrestling because it has roots in Native American tribes. Back in the 1500s, Spanish explorers documented Native tribes competing in wrestling competitions where they could only use one part of their body to win.

Native American tribes would wrestle using different body parts to build strength and conditioning in individual body parts. Various tribes would wrestle with different rules and use other body parts. However, leg wrestling is the only widespread form still commonly played to this day. 

Not a lot is known about Native American wrestling other than the fact that it was used as combat training and a way for men from different tribes to compete against each other. Rules and techniques in Native wrestling would vary from tribe to tribe, but little is known about the different variations and forms of Native American wrestling. 

How Do You Win in Leg Wrestling?

You must push your leg against your opponent’s leg with enough force to flip them over to win in leg wrestling. Flipping over your opponent will score you a point. The first competitor to reach either two or three points is the winner. 

Leg wrestling tournaments may work off of an elimination process, or a ‘winner stays on’ system. The format varies depending on who is organizing the game. 

What Techniques Can Help You Win Leg Wrestling?

You’ll need good leg strength and speed to win leg wrestling. The stronger your legs are, and the more flexible you are, the more likely you will win leg wrestling. Ensure your leg is positioned at the right angle, and you maximize your leg strength during combat.

I’ll discuss more on this below.

Use of Speed

The first strategy that you can use is speed. If you can get into position quicker than your opponent, you have a good chance of pinning them and winning the match. 

Angle of leg

Another technique that can help you win leg wrestling is the angle at which you push your leg forward. Driving your opponent’s leg out and away from their hip will weaken their position. This will allow you to flip them over with less force. This technique will enable you to compete and win, even against a stronger opponent. 

The following technique requires some trickery. You push against your opponent, then relax your leg, allowing them to move against you. When they then quickly move against you, it will trigger a reaction that stops them from driving for a second. 

If you then go back against your opponent during this window, you can catch your opponent off guard, which will lead to a swift victory. This technique is known as the fake

Maximize strength

Another technique you can use to maximize your strength is to ensure that you engage your glutes and hamstrings. Your glutes are powerful muscles that, when appropriately engaged, will give you a competitive advantage. You can do so by pulling the heel of your competitive leg towards the hip of your relaxed leg. This move provides you with a powerful motion that flips your opponent. 

What Do You Need for Leg Wrestling?

Leg wrestling is a game that requires nothing other than some space to move and some players to play. Some people may choose to place a blanket or mat on the ground for comfort, but this is not required. 

This is why leg wrestling is so popular with organizations such as the boy scouts, as it is easy to set up and play while out camping. 

Where Can You Compete in Leg Wrestling?

Leg wrestling is usually played informally with friends and family. Sometimes, leg wrestling is used in team-building exercises. That said, it’s common to see leg wrestling played in colleges or high school sports teams.  

There are, however, some competitions where people train to win at leg wrestling. These competitions can be found online as they are sporadic events held in Canada and the U.S. 

You can also find leg wrestling organizations on social media sites like Facebook. Here you can gain information about when and where leg wrestling competitions are taking place. 

Leg wrestling is a popular game played throughout North America. Native American tribes first developed it to test the strength of different aspects of competitors’ bodies. The game has then been adopted and popularized by the boy scouts. 

Leg wrestling is easy to play, as it requires no equipment. There are even some competitions that you can partake in to test your leg wrestling skills. While strength gives you a significant advantage in this game, using the right leg angle and improving your speed can help you win.

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