How Does Scoring Work In Wrestling?

Wrestling, a sport with ancient origins, has evolved into a highly competitive and structured discipline. Central to this structure is the scoring system, which varies depending on the style of wrestling. Understanding how scoring works is essential for both participants and spectators to appreciate the strategy and skill involved in wrestling.

Scoring in Freestyle Wrestling

Freestyle wrestling, one of the styles featured in the Olympics, has a scoring system that emphasizes both positional control and the execution of various techniques. This style allows the use of the legs for both offense and defense, making the scoring more diverse compared to Greco-Roman wrestling.

Takedown Points

In freestyle wrestling, a takedown, where a wrestler brings their opponent from a standing position to the mat and gains control, scores two points. The emphasis here is on control, as merely bringing the opponent down without establishing control does not earn points.

Exposure Points

Exposing an opponent’s back to the mat, even without full control, can also score points. If the back is exposed at an angle of less than 90 degrees, the attacking wrestler earns two points. This rule encourages wrestlers to attempt throws and other high-amplitude moves.

Scoring in Greco-Roman Wrestling

Greco-Roman wrestling, another Olympic style, differs from freestyle primarily in its prohibition of holds below the waist. This restriction leads to a different scoring system, with a greater emphasis on upper-body control and throws.

Points for Throws

Throws in Greco-Roman wrestling are highly valued. A throw that brings the opponent directly to their back with force and control can score as high as five points, depending on the amplitude and impact.

Par Terre Position

The par terre position, where one wrestler starts on the mat while the other begins on top, offers unique scoring opportunities in Greco-Roman wrestling. Points are awarded for successfully turning the opponent’s back to the mat or for defending against turns when in the bottom position.

Technical Points

In both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, technical points are awarded for various maneuvers. These can include reversals, escapes, and other techniques that demonstrate skill and control.

Reversals and Escapes

A reversal, where a wrestler goes from a defensive to an offensive position, typically scores one point. An escape, where a wrestler successfully breaks free from their opponent’s control, also scores one point. These maneuvers reflect a wrestler’s defensive skills and ability to counterattack.

Near Fall Points

Near fall points are awarded when a wrestler almost pins their opponent. The criteria for a near fall include holding an opponent’s shoulders close to the mat for a certain duration or exposing their back at a very acute angle. The points vary based on the duration and the degree of control exhibited.

Pin or Fall

A pin, or fall, is the most definitive way to win a match in wrestling. It occurs when a wrestler holds both of their opponent’s shoulders to the mat for a specified period, usually one to two seconds. Achieving a pin immediately ends the match, regardless of the current score, and is considered a major achievement in wrestling.

Match Duration and Periods

Wrestling matches are typically divided into periods, with a short break in between. The length of these periods and the total match duration can vary depending on the level of competition and age group. The scoring across these periods is cumulative, and the wrestler with the most points at the end of the match is declared the winner.

Technical Superiority

In both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, a match can end before the scheduled time if a wrestler establishes a significant point lead. This rule, known as technical superiority, is akin to a mercy rule and is intended to recognize a clear and insurmountable skill gap between the competitors.

Criteria for Technical Superiority

The point margin for technical superiority varies depending on the governing body and the level of competition. It typically ranges from a 10 to 15-point advantage. Once this margin is reached, the match is stopped, and the leading wrestler is declared the winner.

Scoring Disputes and Reviews

In high-stakes competitions, scoring disputes can occur. Wrestling employs a review system where coaches can challenge a scoring decision. The match officials, including a mat chairman, referee, and judge, review the contested action and make a final decision. This system ensures fairness and accuracy in scoring.


Understanding the scoring system in wrestling is crucial for appreciating the sport’s intricacies. Whether in freestyle or Greco-Roman wrestling, the scoring reflects a blend of physical prowess, technical skill, and strategic thinking. The system rewards not just strength and aggression but also finesse, control, and tactical acumen. As wrestlers train and compete, mastering the scoring system is as important as developing physical strength and technical skills.