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How to Win an Olympic Wrestling Match

Format of an Olympic Wrestling Match


Kurt Angle

Kurt Angle won a Gold Medal in 1996.

Photo by Journalist 1st Class Kristin Fitzsimmons
A wrestling match at the Olympics takes place on a mat which features a 9 meter (approximately 30 feet) diameter combat circle. Matches are competed in a round system. Regardless of the style of wrestling, each match is scheduled for a maximum of three rounds each lasting two-minutes.

When you watch a match, the first thing you will notice is that it will be competed under either Greco-Roman or Freestyle Wrestling rules. The biggest difference between the two styles is that in Greco-Roman Wrestling, you are only allowed to use your arms and upper-body to move your opponent. Freestyle wrestlers are allowed to use any part of their body to move their opponent.

There are several ways to win a match. The most famous one is pin fall. Unlike professional wrestling which requires a three-count, in amateur wrestling you only need to get a one-count to win the match. A pin fall can occur in any round.

While a period is scheduled to run for 2-minutes, it can end earlier than that due to technical superiority. That happens when a wrestler either performs a move worth five points, gets two three-point holds in the round, or takes a six point lead in the round. The referee will wait to blow the whistle in the first two circumstances for the attacking wrestler to score a pin. If the opponent recovers then the round ends. While a wrestler would win a round under those circumstances, they wouldn't win the match unless that was the second round they won. The full-breakdown of the point values of different types of holds can be found on page 27 of the FILA rule book.

After the first round ends, there is a 30-second rest period. If that same wrestlers wins the second round then the match is over. If the other wrestler wins then there is another 30-second rest period. The winner of the final round will then be declared the winner of the match.

For the first two rounds, there are rules in place to determine who wins a round in case the two competitors are tied. For the final round, those rules are still used in Greco-Roman Wrestling but aren't used in Freestyle. The Freestyle match will go into overtime and the first wrestler to get a score will win the match. In addition, there will be a 30-second overtime in a Freestyle match if a round ends in a 0-0 tie. In Greco-Roman Wrestling, a 0-0 tie is not possible.

There are a few other ways to win a match. Your opponent can get disqualified or be forced to quit due to injury.

Tie Breaking Procedures
1 - The wrestler with the least amount of cautions in the round wins.
2 - The wrestler that scored the highest point move in the round.
3 - The wrestler that scores the last point in the round.

What Happens Next?
If you win your match then you get to move on in the tournament. However, a loss doesn't necessarily eliminate you from medal contention. If you lose a match before the semi-final round, you really need to root for the person that just beat you so you can enter a repechage tournament for one of the bronze medals.

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