High school wrestlers predominately practice what is called scholastic, or folkstyle, wrestling. This style of wrestling focuses on “control” of your opponent, according to Olympic wrestling legend Dan Gable. Gable states that by comparison, freestyle wrestling, which is primarily practiced at the international level, focuses on taking risks to score against your opponent.
Freestyle wrestling differs from folk-style in that the majority of the scoring in a match happens from take-downs when both wrestlers are on their feet. Wrestlers in freestyle score the most points from taking their opponent directly to their back or for performing “grand amplitude” throws. By becoming versed in the techniques of freestyle wrestling, a high school wrestler will likely improve his tactics from his feet and better be able to offset the balance of his opponent so he can throw him to his back quickly.
Avoid Being Pinned
In high school wrestling, a wrestler’s shoulders must be held to the mat for a total of two seconds before a fall, commonly called a pin, occurs. Freestyle is much more punishing in this regard, and a fall is declared the instant both of a wrestler’s shoulders touch the mat. A high school wrestler that practices freestyle learns to avoid exposing his shoulders to the mat for even a brief period, and will thus be much more difficult to pin in a folk-style match.
Turning an Opponent
Apart from take-downs, freestyle wrestling puts a heavy scoring emphasis on exposing an opponent’s shoulders close to the mat. According to Northern Michigan University, a freestyle wrestler scores two points every time he exposes an opponent’s shoulders to the mat beyond a 45-degree angle. In high school wrestling, this is called a near fall and can bring a wrestler up to three points if he can hold his opponent’s shoulders in this position for more than five seconds. A high school wrestler that is capable of regularly turning his opponent’s shoulders toward the mat is much more likely to win by a major decision or pin than one who is not.
Freestyle wrestling requires a wrestler to be very aggressive and always trying to create scoring opportunities on his opponent. If a wrestler does not do this, he will be warned for passivity or caution and may lose a point. By practicing freestyle wrestling, a high school wrestler will learn to be more aggressive in attacking his opponent and as a by-product may also increase his cardiovascular conditioning.