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Freestyle & Greco Match Procedure

Youth wrestlers lock upStepping onto the mat for the very first time can be flustering. Not only are you focused on performing well, but you are also concerned about making sure you get the rules right. Well, there’s no need to worry! This guide will walk you through an entire international regulation (Freestyle and Greco-Roman) wrestling match.

In addition to reading this guide, it is recommended that you refer to the “Wrestling Rules & Regulations” guide at the right of this page. Both of these resources should help give you a better understanding of how an international regulation wrestling match works.

Check Your Bracket

The very first thing you must do before your match begins is check your bracket. Depending on the type of competition, you will be organized by both weight class and age group. Checking the bracket is extremely important because the bracket will inform you of what color singlet you must wear during the match.

Typically, the wrestler who must wear a red singlet will have a dot next to his name, or next to the number used to represent him. If there is no dot next to your name or number, you will be expected to wear a blue singlet. Singlet colors are determined every time two wrestlers are paired up, so be sure to check your bracket before every match.

Dress Check

Before you step onto the mat, you must first check your uniform and equipment to make sure that they fit the rules. If you do not adhere to these specific regulations, it is likely that you will forfeit the match. What you can wear, and in what manner, will vary depending on the level of wrestling and the specific event. However, below is what is commonly expected of you in terms of your dress:

  • A singlet worn properly with the straps up and around your shoulders, and of the correct color.
  • A handkerchief to be used to clean up any blood.
  • Wrestling shoelaces tied and secured with a lace cover or athletic tape.
  • Headgear is permitted, but is only required for wrestlers with long hair.
Hot Tip: Don’t Forget Your Handkerchief!

Some competitions will allow you to use a paper towel as a handkerchief, but for sanctioned regional, national, and international competitions, it must be made of cloth.

Check-in & Appearance Evaluation

When it is your turn to wrestle, either an individual at the scoring table or the official will call your name. Signal to this person that you are present. Then, make your way to one of the corners of the mat while wearing your regulation attire. There may be a designated corner for your color. If so, go to this corner. If not, any corner of the mat will do.

Once you get to your corner, hold up your handkerchief to show the official. Once he has acknowledged that you have your handkerchief, he will motion for you to come to the center of the mat. Place your handkerchief underneath one of the legs of your singlet and move towards the center circle. At the center of the mat, the official will then evaluate your appearance. Aside from the equipment rules mentioned above, there is one other thing you must do during this process:

  1. First, you must shake the official’s hand.
  2. Then, while standing in front of the official, hold your arms out to your sides at about shoulder-height. This will allow the official to check underneath your armpits, chest, and back for perspiration. If you are sweating to the point that you are slippery, the official will order you to wipe yourself off.
  3. Once the official has determined that you and your opponent’s appearances are satisfactory, the match can begin.


There is no specific rule on where to start in the center of the mat, so standing in the general area of the center circle will be fine. The official will signal for you and your opponent to shake hands. He will then blow his whistle and from there the match has officially started!

You will wrestle the first period in its entirety, unless:

  • You or your opponent earns a fall . This will end the match immediately.
  • You or your opponent earns a technical superiority. This will conclude that specific period of wrestling.

Aside from the previous two possible results, the wrestler who has outscored his opponent wins that specific period of wrestling.

Determining the Period Winner

If the score is tied at the end of a period, there is very specific tie-breaking criterion that must be followed to determine a winner. The criteria must be applied in the following order, moving on to the next rule when one rule does not apply:

  1. The wrestler with the least amount of cautions or penalty points against him wins the period.
  2. The wrestler who scored the highest number of technical points with one offensive maneuver wins the period.
  3. The wrestler who scored the last point before the end of the period wins.

If a specific period of wrestling goes scoreless (0-0), the ordered Hold or “clinch” position will then be used. This is a detailed process, so for more information check out the Freestyle and Greco-Roman sections in iSport’s Wrestling Rules & Regulations.


After the first period has been decided, there will be a short break before the second period. Depending on your age group, this will be a break of thirty seconds or one minute. During this time you will return to your corner to rest. Don’t forget to wipe yourself down during this time if you have broken a sweat!

Second & Third Periods

Before the second period begins, the official will check your body to see if it is slippery. Once you and your opponent have been checked, he will blow his whistle and the second period will start.

The same process continues as in the first period: The entire period will be wrestled in its entirety unless a fall or a technical superiority has been achieved by you or your opponent. Otherwise, the wrestler who outscores his opponent wins the period. If necessary, the tie-breaking criterion and ordered hold positions will be used.

The second period could be the final period of the match if you or your opponent wins the first and second periods consecutively. However, if at this point you and your opponent have each won a period, there will be another break prior to the third and final period. The procedure for the final period will be the same as before. The only difference is that the wrestler who wins the third period also wins the match.

Post-match Procedure

Once the referee blows his whistle for the final time, either at the end of the period or when the match has been decided by the ordered hold, the match is officially over. The official will order you and your opponent to shake hands. After this, you and your opponent will stand alongside the referee, and he will raise the hand of the winning wrestler. You must then:

  • Shake hands with the official
  • Shake hands with your opponent’s coach
Hot Tip: Handshake Rules

These handshakes are not only signs of respect, but they are a part of the rules. If you do not shake hands with the official and your opponent’s coach, you will be penalized! You may also shake hands with the officials at the judges table if you’d like, but this is not required.

Mat Time

You should now have a much better idea of how an international regulation wrestling match works. You may forget some of these rules or procedures at first, but if you pay attention and listen to the official’s directions, you won’t have much of a problem. As you gain experience wrestling and getting more “mat time,” the procedure of a freestyle or Greco-Roman match will become second nature. Good luck!

The procedures used in a freestyle or Greco-Roman wrestling match can be confusing at first. This guide will walk you through an entire international regulation match.
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