How to Do a Basic Ankle Pick
The ankle pick is one of the most versatile takedowns in wrestling. If you know the basics of this technique, you can pick an opponent’s ankle from almost anywhere! An ankle pick is an offensive move where a wrestler grabs the ankle of his opponent and pulls it towards his body in an attempt to bring his opponent to the mat. This guide explains the fundamental points of the ankle pick to get you familiar with how the technique works. Follow the steps in this guide to get yourself acquainted with this invaluable move.
1. Control the Head
The key to an ankle pick is the setup. First, choose which of your opponent’s ankles you are going to pick — the left or right (typically, it’s best to go for the ankle of your opponent’s lead leg).This determines which leg you’ll be focusing on. If you are picking his right ankle, your focus will be on his right leg. With this in mind, follow the next steps closely:
- Start with a collar tie on your opponent.
- Control his head with one of yours arms (it doesn’t matter which) by pulling it towards the bicep of this same arm.
- Using your other arm, grip the triceps or wrist of your opponent’s arm that is on the opposite side of his body in comparison to yours (farthest from you). Stay in a good position with your knees bent and hips back.
- Now, start pulling your opponent’s head down towards the knee of his lead leg.
2. Lower Your Body
Now, lower your body. Try to force his head past his knee and towards the ankle you want to pick. The closer his head gets to this ankle, the greater your chances are of taking him down. You’ll also want to try to force him to shift his body weight onto the foot of the ankle you want to pick; this is called creating a “heavy foot.” This makes it much more difficult for your opponent to defend against the pick.
Hot Tip: Pull & Pick
The ankle you want to pick may not be forward. If this is the case, snap your opponent down and pull him towards you with a collar tie, and circle away from the leg you want him to put forward. This will force him to bring his trail leg forward in order to keep his balance. Now, the leg you wanted forward is forward!
3. Step & Cup the Heel
Take a penetration step towards your opponent, leading with the leg that’s on the same side of your opponent’s body as the ankle you are picking. For example, if you are picking your opponent’s left ankle, step with your right leg. Step next to your opponent’s foot if you can.
Now, drop to your knee and cup your opponent’s heel from the outside of his foot (the outside of his foot should be along the inside of your forearm). You’ll cup his heel with the hand that’s on the same side of your body as the leg with which you took your penetration step — when picking his left ankle, use your right hand.
Make sure you are cupping the very bottom of his heel so that the bottom (side) of your hand and your pinky finger are touching the mat. This will not only help you control his foot better, but it will also force you to get lower so you can complete the takedown. Stay on your knee, and keep your trail leg extended behind you, with your foot in contact with the mat. This will help you pressure into your opponent for the takedown.
4. Pull & Throw the Head
The next motions are swift and simultaneous:
- Quickly pull your opponent’s ankle in towards your body. Make sure to have a secure tie on his head and keep your forearm against his collarbone.
- As you are pulling his ankle towards you, use your forearm (of the arm that’s securing the tie) and push his head and upper body away from you. This will completely take away his balance, and drop him onto his back.
There is also a second way to complete the pull:
- Using your forearm that’s on his collarbone and the grasp you have around his head, pull your opponent’s upper body and his ankle in towards your body at the same time.
- Then, continue driving him onto his back.
A tough opponent will belly out when you take away his leg and throw his head. Other wrestlers may stay on their backs. No matter what your opponent does, make sure to cover him and secure the pin with a half-nelson or other pinning combination.
You should now have a better idea about how basic ankle picks work. Practice this technique before moving on to more advanced picks. Once you have mastered this, you’ll be able to pick from underhooks, overhooks, headlocks, and more! Make sure to drill this takedown extensively so you gain an understanding on how to trap and control your opponent’s ankle as well. This move is invaluable at higher levels of wrestling — it’ll make you tough against any opponent. So, get out there and drill it!