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Wrestling Takedowns

Wrestler performing a takedownThere are literally hundreds of different types of takedowns that are used in all styles of wrestling, with endless combinations of how to execute each specific technique. The type of technique and how it is performed is influenced largely by the form of competition, and also by each individual’s style of wrestling.

This guide will serve as an overview of takedowns, designed to expose you to the various types of techniques that are commonly seen in competition. These techniques will be categorized by the part of the body which they target. Keep in mind that there are many more techniques (as well as variations of the ones listed) than will be discussed here. However, this guide should help you get an understanding of what techniques are currently being used in competition.

Leg Attacks

Low-Level Attacks

A low-level takedown is targeted below an opponent’s knees, aiming to attack his ankles and/or feet. These types of takedowns are seen in freestyle and folkstyle competition where leg attacks compose the majority of takedowns in the neutral position.

Lightweight wrestlers are typically the masters of low-level attacks, and utilize these techniques because they are able to quickly change their level and attack an opponent low on the body in the blink of an eye. Middleweight and more athletic upper weight wrestlers have also been known to perform low-level attacks in impressive fashion. Here are some examples of low-level takedowns:

  • Low Single: When wrestlers speak of low-level attacks, one of the first techniques mentioned is the low single. This is where a wrestler dives low at an opponent’s ankle/foot in order to score the takedown.
  • Sweep Single: An effective low-level technique is the sweep single. Similar to the low single, this attack is targeted at the opponent’s foot or ankle. However, instead of hitting the move straight on using the traditional inside penetration step, the attacking wrestler uses an outside penetration step to attack the leg in a “sweeping” or circling motion, controlling the leg with an outside grip.
  • Ankle Pick: This popular low-level technique requires precise timing. While controlling an opponent’s head/upper body, the attacking wrestler isolates one of his opponent’s feet and catches it at the heel. Accordingly, this technique is sometimes called the “head and heel.”
  • Trips: Various kinds of trips are used to block a wrestler’s legs and take him down. There are numerous types of trips, including inside trips, outside trips, and foot sweeps. Trips can be used to set up other types of leg attacks, or may also be used on their own to score a takedown.

Mid-Level Attacks

The majority of leg attacks in freestyle and folkstyle wrestling are performed at the mid-level, or around the area of the knee. This is the case for two reasons: Mid-level attacks can be used effectively by wrestlers at all weights, and there are more options for set-ups and finishes. Here are some common mid-level techniques:

  • Double Leg: The double leg takedown is one of the most widely used techniques in freestyle and folkstyle wrestling. Although there are many variations, the mid-level double is targeted at both of an opponent’s legs.
  • High Crotch: The high crotch is another popular mid-level leg attack in which the attacking wrestler uses an inside step to attack one of his opponent’s legs. An inside grip is used to control the opponent’s leg anywhere from the back of the knee to inside the thigh or crotch, which is what gives the technique its name.
  • Fireman’s Carry: A similar takedown to the high crotch, this technique requires control of an opponent’s arm during the shot, and is used to attack a leg either behind the knee or high in the crotch. The key to this move is control of the arm, which allows for more options for the set-up and finish of this technique.
  • Sweep Single: Sweep singles are most commonly targeted at the mid-level, and attack an opponent’s leg at the knee. In the same manner as a low-level sweep single, the mid-level version uses an outside penetration step to catch an opponent’s leg with an outside grip.

High-Level Attacks

High-level leg attacks have become popular in freestyle wrestling due to both their effectiveness and the limited numbers of counters to each technique. The reason high-level techniques are so valuable is because they don’t require the attacking wrestler to drop to a knee using a penetration step. These types of techniques are targeted at an opponent’s knee or above, and typically require a very strategic use of head position. Here are two common high-level takedowns:

  • High Single: Sometimes known as a “snatch” single, this technique is commonly used internationally in freestyle wrestling. This technique is effective because a traditional penetration step is not needed; without dropping to a knee, the attacking wrestler may simply grab an opponent’s leg high on the inner-thigh when in reach.
  • Blast Double: This technique is similar to the high single, except both legs are attacked. Without dropping to a knee, the attacking wrestler uses his head to push his opponent’s upper body out of position while attacking both legs behind the knees. This is very similar to a “tackle” in American football, and is an impressive technique by athletic upper weight wrestlers.

Upper Body Attacks

Upper body attacks are the staple of Greco-Roman wrestlers because they typically target an opponent’s head, arms, shoulders, or hips. Upper body techniques are also used effectively in freestyle and folkstyle competition. These techniques are typically set up by using a collar tie (or other type of tie) to control an opponent’s upper body. Here are some common high-level techniques:

  • Duck Under: This is a traditional technique that involves a level change when an opponent pressures in, allowing the attacking wrestler to “duck under” his opponent’s arms. The duck under is popular in all styles of wrestling, and has a variety of setups and finishes.
  • Shrugs, Slide By’s, & Pass By’s: These techniques are all very similar in nature. Shrugs, slide by’s, and pass by’s are executed by engaging an opponent in some sort of collar tie, and using his momentum against him. As the opponent pressures in, the attacking wrestler adjusts the tie to let an opponent’s momentum push him into the takedown.
  • High Dive: This technique is Greco’s answer to the double leg, which requires the attacking wrestler to use an inside penetration step to get to an opponent’s hips/waist. This is a popular way to get to a body lock in Greco-Roman competition.
  • Throws: There are a variety of different types of throws which vary greatly in how they’re executed. Hip throws and headlocks engage an opponent’s upper body in order to throw them over the attacking wrestler’s hip. The different variations of the suplex, or souple require the attacking wrestler to control a body lock in order to be able to throw an opponent over his head. The type of technique and how it’s performed is largely influenced by the style of wrestling. Although upper body throws are exciting in folkstyle, the most spectacular types of throws are seen in freestyle and Greco-Roman competition, and are known as throws of “Grand Amplitude.”

Putting It Together

Now that you have a general overview of wrestling takedowns, you can go out and explore specific techniques that interest you. The most important concept to keep in mind is that a good wrestler must be able to attack the entire body of an opponent at any time. Having go-to techniques for all areas of the body will allow you a wide array of takedown possibilities.

For more specific instruction on how to perform these techniques, talk to your coach, or check out the rest of the guides in the Skills & Technique section, where many of these techniques are explained. Also, you’re welcome to request further explanation of any specific technique that’s not already featured in an iSport guide by clicking the “Suggest a Guide Topic” link at the top of the Guides page.

Note: These techniques should not be used if you have not practiced them and you are not in the supervision of a coach. In order to hit these moves successfully – without injuring you or a partner – don’t try them on impulse. Learn these techniques by practicing them many times before you try to execute them in a match. Also, note that each technique on this list will vary in difficulty. Some of the techniques listed may not be suitable for beginning wrestlers, so talk to a coach about which of these moves will work for you.

Have fun learning and hitting these takedowns in competition!

There are literally hundreds of different types of takedowns that are used in wrestling. Check out this guide to get an overview of what is being used in each style.
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