As in every sport, wrestling has a unique scoring system. While baseball may be the easiest scoring system to understand with one run being scored for every time a batter rounds the bases and touches home plate, basketball is a bit more complicated with two point and three point baskets, supplemented by single point free throws. Football is even more complicated with six points for a touchdown, three points for a field goal, two points for a either a safety or conversion after touchdown and one point for a kicked point-after-touchdown.
But none of these sports comes close to the complexity of scoring a wrestling match. While the untrained spectator may recognize (or believe they recognize) a pin or fall (which ends the match,) many people take years to fully understand when and why points are scored in a wrestling match.
Basic Scoring for Wrestling
The following is a basic outline of how points are awarded during a match. If no pin occurs during a match, the wrestler with the highest number of points wins the match.
Takedown – when from a neutral position one wrestler brings the other to the mat and gains control – 2 points
Escape – when the bottom wrestler is able to break free from the top wrestler and revert back to a neutral position – 1 point.
Reversal – when a wrestler on the bottom is able to reverse the control so that the opponent is on the bottom. This can occur when the wrestlers are either on the mat or in the standing position – 2 points.
Near Fall – points are awarded when one wrestler comes close to pinning his opponent. This occurs when any part of both shoulders or scapula are held within 4 inches of the mat or less. It can also occur when one shoulder or scapula is on the mat and the other shoulder or scapula is within a 45 degree angle or less – 2 points if held for at least two seconds, or 3 points if this position is held consecutively for 5 seconds. ONLY THE WRESTLER IN CONTROL CAN SCORE NEAR FALL POINTS.
Penalty points can be awarded when the opposing wrestler performs illegal moves (examples include a full nelson, illegal locking of hands or an illegal headlock). A wrestler can also be penalized for stalling.
A pin or fall occurs when a wrestler holds both of his opponent’s shoulders or scapula on the mat at the same time for 2 consecutive seconds. When this happens, the referee will blow his whistle and slap the map.
The match is won by the wrestler scoring the most points or when a wrestler pins his opponent.
The referee has specific signals that he uses to indicate the scoring of points and/or conduct of the match. He will also hold up his fingers indicating the number of points awarded and usually wears red and green armbands to signal who receives the points (green for home, red for visitor).
Situations occurring near the out of bounds line can often be confusing for the spectator. High school wrestlers are considered to be in bounds if the supporting parts of EITHER wrestler are inside the boundary lines.
The referee may stop the match if he sees that one of the wrestlers is being placed in a potentially dangerous situation. Most referees are former wrestlers who are well trained to recognize and quickly stop situations which may result in significant injury. This normally occurs when a body part is forced beyond the normal range of motion.
The referee may also stop and then restart the match if neither wrestler can improve his position. This is referred to as a stalemate.
A complete wrestling rules book can be obtained by contacting the National Federation of State High School Associations at 317-972-6900 or www.nfhs.org. Cost is approximately $5.
When a wrestler wins a dual meet match, he scores points for his team. The following is the guide for team scoring.
Pin – 6 points
Tech Fall – Win by 15 or more points and match is stopped – 5 points
Major decision – Win by 8-14 points – 4 points
Regular decision – 3 points
Why wrestling is a Team Sport
While wrestling appears at first glance to be purely a one-on-one sport, it is every bit a team sport as well. In both dual meets and tournaments, a wrestler not only scores points and hopefully a victory for him or herself, they also contribute toward their team’s score. So while a wrestler is dependent only upon their own resources while on the mat, every wrestler has the potential to contribute to their team’s success as well.