In wrestling, mats are used as a way to protect competitors and enforce rules during a match. The layout of these mats in freestyle, folkstyle, and Greco-Roman are carefully designed to fit the regulations of each style. With that, there is different reasoning behind the specifications of each, including line boundaries, colors, among many other minor details.
International Regulation Mats
There are several variations of the mats used for freestyle and Greco-Roman competitions. However, the dimensions of each mat must be uniformed to fit International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) guidelines. Mats may not be used for more than one year, and an official must approve every mat before a competition. Internationally regulated mats are the most common type of mat, and are used for both practice and competition world-wide.
Thickness and Material
FILA-regulated mats must be between 5 and 7 centimeters thick with a core made of high-density, shock-absorbing foam. The surface of the mat must be of a non-abrasive vinyl material that can easily be cleaned. This material also helps to prevent slipping and is static electricity proof. Often times, a cover is used on these mats. The cover must also be of a vinyl or canvas material that is stretchable and secured tightly with no loose sections or folds.
Square-shaped mats must be 12 meters by 12 meters. Octagonal-shaped mats should have a diameter of 15 meters. The action of a freestyle or Greco match takes place inside of the wrestling area, which is typically a yellow circle with a diameter of 7 meters. At the center of the wrestling area is a “center circle” with a diameter of 1 meter. This circle indicates where the action must start. The color of this circle is typically red or white, and may be a full-filled circle or include a line of 10 centimeters in thickness.
Greco Starting Circle
The center circle for Greco-Roman mats is slightly different to fit specific rules of Greco competition. The size of the center circle is the same as in freestyle. However, there are three additional lines inside of this circle: Two 8-centimeter thick lines that are 40 centimeters apart, and another 8-centimeter line that connects them at the center. These lines serve as a guide for the bottom wrestler when starting in the par terre position (requiring his hands and knees to be contained within the space between the lines and circle). Sometimes there are small dots within this space that serve as an additional guide for the wrestlers.
Passivity and Protection Zones
The red circle that surrounds the circumference of the wrestling area is known as the “passivity zone.” The one meter between the passivity and protection zone is considered to be “in bounds.” When the action moves into this area, wrestlers are warned to keep the wrestling in the center of the mat. The space outside of the passivity zone is called the “protection zone” and is considered out of bounds. In order to ensure that wrestlers are safe if the action continues out of bounds, this space must extend at least one and one-half meters past the passivity zone boundary.
The two corners diagonally opposite one another on the protection zone are designated as either red or blue. This is done to give each wrestler a representative color. Coaches of competitors are typically in or around this corner, and wrestlers return to their respective corners in between the periods of a match.
For all Olympic, world and continental championships, the mat must be installed on a stage or platform. This platform must be between .5 and 1.1 meters off the ground, and have additional padding that stretches 2 meters beyond the edge of the platform.
Collegiate and Scholastic Regulation Mats
The regulations regarding the mats used in scholastic and collegiate wrestling in the United States are somewhat “looser.” For this reason, you will see many variations in style, color, and use of lines for boundaries. However, the dimensions of the mat and other details still must follow National College Athletic Association (NCAA) and National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) guidelines, respectively, in order to be fit for folkstyle competition.
Thickness and Material
Collegiate and scholastic mats must be of a uniformed thickness between 1 and 4 inches, with a core that has shock-absorbing qualities of a 2-inch “hair-felt” mat. This core is typically made from PVC nitrile foam. The mat is coated with a polyvinyl material that is easily cleanable and helps to prevent burns to the skin. Sometimes these mats are constructed in several pieces or sections, and these sections must form an even surface and be secured together tightly by mat tape.
The wrestling area is the large, main circle where the action of a match takes place. This circle must be between 32 and 42 feet in diameter for collegiate competition and at least 28 feet for scholastic competition. An additional regulation for high school competition is that the entire mat should be 38 feet by 38 feet.
The “out of bounds” area around this circle is called the “protection area,” and must extend at least five feet past the wrestling area. A 2-inch wide line is used to separate the wrestling area from the protection area. The most common color used for the lines on a folkstyle mat is white, but any color that contrasts the color of the mat is suitable to be used as a boundary.
Starting Lines and Center Circle
In the center of the mat there are two starting lines placed three feet apart: One red and one green. These are used to represent each wrestler for scoring purposes. Connecting the starting lines are two 1-inch thick lines separated by 10 inches. These two long lines are used as starting lines for the wrestler in bottom position, as this wrestler must have his knees behind one line and his hands in front of the other. Sometimes you will see a 10-foot circle surrounding the starting lines. This is required for high school, but optional in college. This circle is used to determine stalling on a wrestler who constantly evades action by moving outside of this boundary.
Knowing the details of a wrestling mat will help you understand each style, both as a competitor and a spectator. For more information on the specific rules of freestyle, Greco-Roman, and folkstyle wrestling, check out iSport's Wrestling Rules & Regulations.