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There are hundreds of potential high school wrestling moves for folkstyle wrestling. Counters, setups, takedowns, breakdowns, escapes, rolls... the list goes on. However, go to any high school tournament and you'll notice something funny... the majority of the top ranking wrestlers are all using the same dozen or so moves, although each may have their own favorites that are more advanced. Consider this post a starting point. Once you've mastered these moves, only then should you start concentrating on the more advanced moves.


Wrestling Takedowns

Awesome Wrestling Takedown

Of all the high school wrestling moves, wrestling takedowns are perhaps my favorite. As an aggressive wrestler, I can tell you that being a good takedown artist has saved my ass on more than one occasion. There are all sorts of fancy throws and counters out there, but for the absolute basics, I'm only going to mention two leg attacks and one throw.

The Basic Shot

The shot is one of the basic movements you'll need to master if you want to get good at leg attacks. It's required for the two basic leg attacks I'll be teaching you in a moment: the double leg and the single leg wrestling takedowns. To do the shot, the very first thing you want to do is lower level, which involves bending slightly at the knees. This drop in level will allow you to get past your opponents first defense... his hands. From there, take a large step forward with your lead leg (we'll assume for this example that you lead with your left leg). Take your left knee, and drive it to the mat. Shortly after, allow your right knee to drop to the mat as well (your momentum will want this to happen anyway, if you took a big enough step.). Continuing with your momentum, allow your left knee to come back up so that you're now kneeling on your right knee... that is the basic shot.


The Double Leg Takedown

The double leg is without a doubt my favorite of all the high school wrestling moves. To do the wrestling takedown, you must be tied up with the other wrestler (at the point where both of you are fighting for position, in neutral). Do your shot (don't forget the level change first!) and make sure your first step is in between your opponents legs. As you go to your knees position your head so that it is on your opponents outside hip. Wrap your arms around both your opponents legs, at or just above their knees. Then, pop your hips as you drive towards where your head is (sideways). The momentum of the shot, the pressure from your head, and the fact that they can't post their legs out for balance, will cause them to fall to the mat, at which point you can cover them and get two points.

The Single Leg Takedown

The single leg was never a favorite high school wrestling move of mine, but I have used it to great effect. It's very similar to the double leg takedown, but your head is on the inside, and it's usually finished from the standing position. Take the shot, but this time, step to the outside of your opponents legs, and keep your head on the inside. Grasp their leg in your arms, and return to a standing position. Make sure to keep your head on the inside of their hips. Then, circle backwards while driving your head into them (this is called running the pipe). Because their legs want to go one way while their body wants to go another, they will fall to the mat. Cover and get your two points.


The Basic Headlock

From neutral position grasp their same side arm with your left hand, up at the top near the tricep. Throw your right arm up and around their head, and grab their tricep area with that hand as well. At this point, you should both be facing roughly the same direction, and their neck should be in your armpit. Slowly spiral your hips to the mat (this is in some sense a muscle move, so you may have to use some force to get them down). As you go down the mat, make sure you land perpendicular to your opponent, otherwise you are in danger of getting rolled. Stay in this position, and get your three back points... you've just completed a five point move!


Wrestling Breakdowns

Intense Wrestling Breakdown

Breakdowns are your bread and butter from top position (referees), and they have one purpose: to get your opponent off of their base and flat down to their stomach. They usually have really obvious names like “Tight Waist, Far Ankle” (bet you can't guess what you do in that move :) I'll teach three of the most common and effective breakdowns here. I assume you're set up on their left side.


Near Arm Chop

From referee's position on top, use your left arm to chop their left arm. Chop in and towards their stomach. Reach around their stomach with your right arm, and grab the wrist of the chopped arm. Pull them in and over your left leg. Make sure to keep your right leg and hip above theirs, otherwise they will reverse you. Then while keeping their wrist grasped with your right hand, grab it with your left hand as well (this is called a 2-on-1). Rock back on top of them, but without the use of their arm, they should now be flat.


Far Knee, Far Ankle

From referees position on top, take your left hand and go under their stomach to grasp their right knee. Go over the top of their back with your right hand and grab their right ankle. Get on your toes and drive your body into their side, while simultaneously tucking your fingers from both hands under their right leg. They will top over your fingers and flatten out.


Tight Waist, Far Ankle

Grab the far end of their waste with your right hand, holding a tight grip. Go behind them with your right hand and grab their right ankle. Drive forward, driving your right knee into their butt in the process, while pulling back on their right ankle. They will be flattened to the mat.


Wrestling Holds

Awesome Wrestling Hold!

For some people wrestling holds are an integral part of how they work. I had a few wrestling partners who were pinners, and they were masters of the following wrestling holds. If you want your matches to end quickly, you'll want to spend as much time as possible with these high school wrestling moves.


The Half Nelson

With your opponent broken down (flat on their stomach) take your left hand and go under their armpit, to place your hand directly on the back of their head. With your right hand, go under their right armpit and grasp their right wrist. Now, drive forward, making sure to constantly reposition your hips so that your chest is directly on top of them. When they are at a 90 degree angle to the mat, sink your arm much deeper, so that their neck is in the crook of your elbow (this is called sinking the half). Continue to turn them, keeping your chest directly on top of them, till their back is to the floor and your chest is on their chest. Keep on your toes, and position your hips in such a way that all your weight is weighing down on their chest. Provided the half is tight, and your arm is deep under them, they will have very little wriggle room, and the match will quickly be won, with you as the winner.


The Cradle

Of all the wrestling holds, this is my favorite. With your opponent broken down on their belly, grasp around their head and grab their right shoulder with your left hand. The bony part of your forearm should be sticking into their cheekbone. Now, take your left hand and put it in between their legs (right in between their two knees). From their, take your feet and run towards their head. If you keep your hand in place between their legs, they will have no choice but to curl up into a little ball. When they are sufficiently curled, you should be close enough to lock your left and right hands. Now pet your legs to their legs, and rock back. They should be taken gently to their back. Put your left knee into their right hip, and your head to their head. After kicking for a bit, they will eventually be pinned.


Wrestling Escapes

Great Escape!

Though one of the less glorious parts of wrestling, good bottom game can be the difference between a win and a loss. Provided you don't get turned, it has the least risk of any position, and the most to gain, with an escape earning you one point, and a reversal earning you two. I'll teach the most basic bottom moves here, including a basic roll. I assume your opponent is lined up on your left side.


The Standup

This high school wrestling move is one of the least risky moves you can do from bottom. At worst, you'll end up back where you started, at best, you'll get one point for an escape, and end up back in neutral for a chance at a takedown.


From bottom position, take your left leg and go up to a kneeling position, while at the same time trying to grab their wrists and get wrist control. If you can't get the wrists, keep your elbows tight into your body, to prevent your opponent from locking hands when you stand up. Now, pivot up on your right foot, bringing you to a completely standing position. Get your hips out as far away from your opponent as possible, while throwing their wrists back. If they do manage to lock hands, focus both your hands on their bottom hand, pushing down and against your hips (which are pushing away as well). With any luck, you'll break their grip, at which point you can cut back on your hips and turn into your opponent, earning one point for an escape.


The Sit Out – Turn In

From the bottom position, cross your left are over your right. Throw your left leg under your body, making sure to get your hips as far away from your opponent as possible. In this sit out position, keep your hips in tight and your elbows close to your sides. Role on your left shoulder to a kneeling position, so you are now facing your opponent. Throw up your left arm to prevent them from spinning behind. Back up and get your one point escape, or grab their legs and drive for a two point reversal.


Closing Thoughts


Remember, these are just the basic high school wrestling moves. If you want to know more advanced high school wrestling moves, or other wrestling tips, be sure to check out the rest of the site!






You have a mistake with your cradle. You don't bring your knee to their head. I was always taught to drill your knee into their sides right under the rib cage, and then to rub your head into their head to make it worst for them. Use your head, not your knee

Hey Kevin,

You're right, when you're finishing, that's an effective tactic.

However, when you're getting into the cradle (which is half the battle) bringing THEIR knee to THEIR head is the most effective tactic.