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How to Shoot a Sweep Single from Wrist Control

Wrestler shooting single leg takedownThe sweep single, sometimes known as a “swing” or outside single, is an effective takedown used by some of the world’s best in freestyle and folkstyle. This dynamic single leg technique can be hit by wrestlers of all shapes and sizes, and can also be used with many different kinds of setups and finishes.

This guide will walk you through the basic sweep single and how to set it up from your opponent’s wrist control. Again, there are countless ways to set up your sweep, but at the intermediate level it is very important to focus on hitting it from hand fighting, and mostly importantly, when your opponent has control of your wrist. For a few pointers on hand fighting before you begin, check out the guide Wrestling Defense: Neutral Position.

Keep in mind that each of the following individual steps is not isolated from the others. In other words, each movement should essentially be done simultaneously, in a single, fluid motion. Pay close attention to the subtle details of each action so you can hit your sweep when your opponent least expects it.

  1. Bait your cross-wrist: Hand fight with your opponent, but allow him to control a cross-wrist. His control will be your set up. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can’t score when your opponent has control of your wrists. On the contrary: to set up your sweep, you can actually “bait” your opponent into taking control of your wrist, and then turn his control into your advantage. 
  2. Set your feet: Make sure you’re in a staggered stance, with your lead leg forward on the same side of your opponent’s body as his controlling hand. For example, if your opponent is controlling your left wrist with his left hand, you should be leading with your right leg, aiming to attack his left leg. Be low in your stance with your knees bent ready to shoot.
  3. Shorten up your arm: To close the distance between you and your opponent, pull your elbow (on the arm your opponent is controlling) into your body. This will cut some of the distance and get you to the leg faster. As you pull your elbow in, pull your opponent forward to get most of his weight on his lead foot. This will make it more difficult for him to react and counter as you shoot.
  4. Elbow in: With your free arm, reach up over the top of your opponent’s arm, and place your elbow on the inside of his hand (the one controlling your wrist). Use your elbow to push your opponent’s arm away from his body to give you some space for your takedown. This is also the arm you will be “snaking,” or controlling the leg with as you shoot.
  5. Change levels, outside step: Lower your level by bending your knees, and take an outside step to the outside of your opponent’s foot. If you are not familiar with the outside step, note that this is a diagonal step, rather than the traditional penetration step straight forward. Simply step outside your opponent’s foot and drop your knee behind or near the back of your opponent’s leg. As you drop your knee to the mat, circle towards the outside of your opponent’s body.
  6. Snake: As you drop to your knee, wrap your outside arm around your opponent’s leg tightly. This is called “snaking” because your whole arm should be used to wrap around the leg, with your hand all the way on the inside of your opponent’s leg. Your arm should be elbow-deep on your shot, meaning the bend of your elbow should be at the back of your opponent’s knee or leg. Note: You can hit this shot low, at your opponent’s ankle, or higher up at the level of your opponent’s knee.
  7. Hot Tip: Face the Same Direction
    When shooting a sweep single, don’t stay in front of your opponent when you are in on his leg. Keep circling towards the outside of your opponent’s body to eliminate his defense. The best-case scenario on a sweep single is if you can keep circling past the corner until you are either behind your opponent or hip-to-hip, facing the same direction. Practice finishing your shot different ways, but understand that by circling and finishing behind your opponent, the likelihood that you’ll complete the takedown increases significantly because his defense is virtually non-existent in this position.
  8. Pivot: As your outside knee hits the mat and you snake your arm around your opponent’s leg, pivot or circle on this knee towards your opponent. Use your trail leg to maneuver on your knee, and circle towards him like you are trying to touch the hip of your near leg to his hip. This pivot is what makes the sweep single so effective. The circling or “sweeping” motion of the takedown also allows you to adjust your position, and often times evade your opponent’s hip pressure and sprawl.
  9. Corner: Keep circling until you get to the “corner,” or until you are hip-to-hip with your opponent. You should have your head and chest up as you circle, using your trail leg to pressure into your opponent. Finish as desired.


Use it or Lose it

The sweep single is a technique that all wrestlers should know and utilize because of its effectiveness and versatility. The sweep is also a valuable technique because it is a safe move: you can quickly get away and face-off your opponent if something goes wrong or he counters while you are taking your shot.

Make sure to practice setting your sweep up from wrist control, but also work in other types of setups, such as ties and the open position. Talk to your coach about which setups and finishes would work best with your style of wrestling. Now get out there and score some takedowns!

The sweep single is a technique that the world's best use in freestyle and folkstyle wrestling. Read this guide to learn how to hit this technique with a sneaky set up.
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