Website Manager

Welcome to the official website of the Cranford Police Athletic League (PAL)!


Scholastic Wrestling Rules and Scoring

These rules apply to the type of wrestling done in the United States in College, High School, Junior High, Middle School, and most youth wrestling. This type of wrestling is often referred to as "scholastic" wrestling. The rules for "freestyle" and "greco-roman" wrestling, as is done in the Olympics and internationally, are a little different.

Overview of Wrestling Rules

The object of the sport of wrestling is to put your opponent on his back -- to pin your opponent.

A pin (or fall) is when you put your opponent on his back with any part of both shoulders or both shoulder blades of your opponent in contact with the mat for two seconds. When you pin your opponent, the match is over and you are the winner.

If nobody gets pinned, the winner is the wrestler who has scored the most points during the match.

There are five ways to score points in a wrestling match:

1) Takedown - (2 points) You score two points for taking your opponent down to the mat and controlling him.

2) Escape - (1 point) You score one point for getting away or getting to a neutral position when your opponent has you down on the mat.

3) Reversal - (2 points) You score two points when your opponent has you down on the mat and you come from underneath and gain control of your opponent.

4) Near Fall (Back Points) - (2 or 3 points) You get near fall points when you almost but not quite get your opponent pinned. A near fall (near pin) is when...

one shoulder touches the mat and the other shoulder is at a 45 degree angle coming down to the mat, or

the wrestler is held in a high bridge or back on both elbows.

both shoulders are held for two seconds within four inches of the mat, or...

If a near fall lasts for two seconds, you get 2 points. If a near fall lasts for 5 seconds, you get 3 points.

5) Penalty Points - (1 or 2 points) Your opponent is awarded points if you commit the following infractions.

o        Illegal Holds

          There are several holds that the referee will penalize you for without warning. (There are other holds called "potentially dangerous holds" which the referee might make you let go of but will not penalize you for).

o    Technical Violations

1.     Grabbing clothing, the mat, or the headgear

2.     Locked or overlapped hands: If you are down on the mat in control of your opponent, you cannot lock or overlap your hands, fingers or arms around your opponent's body or both legs unless you have met criteria for a near pin of your opponent, or your opponent stands up and has all his/her weight on two feet, or you have lifted the opponent off the mat.

3.     Figure 4 head scissors from the neutral position.

4.    Going off the mat or forcing your opponent off the mat to avoid wrestling ("fleeing the mat.") Leaving the mat during the match without the referee's permission Reporting to the mat not properly equipped or not ready to wrestle, or equipment that is detected as being illegal after the match has started

5.    Unnecessary roughness

6.    Unsportsmanlike conduct

7.    Flagrant Misconduct (ejection, the match is over)

8.    Stalling (you get one warning before you are penalized and points are awarded).

9.    Incorrect starting position or false start (You get two cautions before points are awarded).

The first and second time you are penalized, your opponent is awarded one point. The third time you are penalized, your opponent is awarded two points. The fourth time you are penalized, you are disqualified. (Except for illegal starting position or false start - you are cautioned twice, then one point awarded for each infraction, but you will not be disqualified. In the event of Flagrant Misconduct, you are ejected from the match on the first offense, you lose the match, and 3 team points are deducted).

Dual Meet Team Scoring

Fall, Forfeit, Default, Disqualification - 6 team points

Technical Fall (getting ahead of your opponent by 15 points ends the match) - 5 team points

Major Decision (winning the match by 8 - 14 points) - 4 team points

Decision (winning the match by fewer than 8 points) - 3 team points

In the event of a tie: Criteria for tie breaking of team scores may vary by league.


by Bill Welker, Ed.D.


The objective of wrestling is to pin your opponent, but it usually involves a takdown to accomplish this goal. As a matter of fact, it has been proven statistically that the wrestler who executes the first takedown in a match will win the match 85 to 90% of the time.

What is considered a takedown? Well, to set up a takedown, the wrestlers must be working from the neutral or standing position; a situation where neither wrestler has control. Then a takedown is scored when one of the wrestlers gains control over the other, causing his opponent's supporting points (the area or areas in which most of the body weight is placed) to be the knees, thighs, buttocks, or hands.

In reference to out-of-bounds situations, a wrestler can be awarded a takedown as long as he or his adversary is in-bounds. Remember, the line around the mat is out-of-bounds. And don't forget, a takedown can be awarded if the scoring wrestler's feet are in-bounds and touching the mat. In years past, the scoring wrestler's knees had to be in-bounds.

When the takedown is a achieved, the offensive man receives two match points. The double-leg drop, single-leg sweep, fireman's carry, arm drag, snapdown and pancake are just a few types of takedowns.


The wrestler in control or on top is referred to as the offensive wrestler, while the wrestler on the bottom is the defensive matman. Keep in mind, only the defensive man can score an escape or reversal.

THE ESCAPE: For the bottom man to secure an escape, he must place himself in the neutral position, causing his opponent to lose control. The defensive wrestler may also be awarded an escape going out-of-bounds if his adversary is in-bounds at the completion of the move. The official will indicate one point for the wrestler who earns an escape. The stand-up, forward or granby roll, sit-out turn-in, and sit-out turn-out are examples of escape maneuvers.

THE REVERSAL: The defensive wrestler may procure a reversal by moving from the bottom position to the top position, gaining control of his opponent either on the mat or on their feet. Like the escape, a reversal can be obtained crossing the out-of-bounds line if one of the wrestlers is in-bounds. The referee will designate two points for a reversal. The switch, side roll and peterson roll are examples of reversals.

Remember, one match point is awarded for an escape and two match points are given for a reversal.


Only the offensive (or top) wrestler can score a near fall. He may do so by causing the defensive wrestler...
(1) to spring into a high bridge,
(2) to lean back on his elbows,
(3) to expose his shoulders four inches or less to the mat, and
(4) to have one shoulder on the mat and the other 45 degrees or less above the mat.

The top wrestler can score two points by holding (for two seconds) the bottom wrestler in any of the above noted positions. Furthermore, if the offensive wrestler can secure a near fall for a continuous five-second period, he would then be awarded three match points for the maneuver.

Note, the official usually indicates a near-fall situation with an angular sweep of the arm, each sweep designating a second, but he will not signal any points until the near-fall hold is terminated.

In reference to the out-of-bounds line, if both shoulders are partially in-bounds or one shoulder is completely in-bounds, a near fall can be scored.

The half-nelson, cradle, three-quarter nelson, and armbar series are near-fall maneuvers that can ultimately lead to a "fall."


The fall (or pin) terminates the match and no individual match points are necessary. Of course, the winner's squad receives six team points. Now a fall occurs when both shoulders are forced to the mat for a period of two seconds in high school and only one second in college. The official mentally counts this time and indicates the fall by slapping the mat.

Normally, the offensive wrestler (the man in control) scores the fall. However, if the offensive grappler's shoulders are somehow placed on the mat for the required time, a fall is awarded to the defensive wrestler.

Finally, in reference to the out-of-bounds line, if the shoulders are partially in-bounds or one shoulder is completely in-bounds, a fall may be called.


The best definition for an illegal hold would be "any maneuver used that could cause bodily harm intentionally or not." Examples of illegal moves include full nelsons, overscissors, back bows, headlocks (without an arm encircled), forceful trips, pulling a thumb or less than four fingers, holds that restrict breathing or circulation, and any holds used for punishment alone.

Illegal maneuvers are penalized in the following manner: first and second offense - one match point for opponent; third offense - two match points for opponent; and fourth offense - disqualification from the match.

Note, a wrestler applying a legal hold shall not be penalized if his adversary turns it into an illegal hold. And whenever possible, an illegal move should be prevented by the official rather than penalized.


Any intentional act that is hazardous to an opponent's physical well-being is considered unnecessary roughness.

Furthermore, if a hold is utilized for the sole purpose of punishment alone, the referee may see fit to declare unnecessary roughness. Such perpetrations as striking, kicking, butting with the head, elbowing, and forceful tripping are examples of this infraction.

Normally, the violator would be penalized as follows: first offense - one point; second offense - another point for his rival; third offense - two points for his adversary; and fourth offense - disqualification.

However, when the official believes the unnecessary roughness of the wrestler to be totally inexcusable, he can indicate a "flagrant misconduct" signal, which is an automatic disqualification and the deduction of ALL team points scored in the event. Certainly, a sucker punch to the jaw would fall under this category.


There are six technical violations in wrestling and all are penalized in the following manner: First Offense - 1 penalty point (for opponent); Second Offense - 1 penalty point; Third Offense - 2 penalty points; Fourth Offense - Disqualification.

"Leaving the Mat Proper" -- No wrestler may completely step off the wrestling mat without permission of the referee.

"Intentionally Going Out-Of-Bounds" -- If either wrestler goes out-of-bounds to avoid wrestling his opponent for any reason (except when near-fall points are scored), this technical violation will be enforced.

"Grasping of Clothing" -- A contestant may grab nothing but his opponent while wrestling or this encroachment will be called. Furthermore, when a wrestler grasps his adversary's uniform to prevent him from scoring , the appropriate penalty point(s) will be given along with any points his opponent may have obtained.

"Interlocking or Overlapping Hands" -- The offensive (or top) wrestler may only lock or touch hands around his opponent's body or both legs when he is scoring near-fall points or his antagonist stands up. If his rival scores points while he commits this violation, his opponent would also receive the stipulated penalty point(s). Note, the official can only stop the match to award point(s) when the bottom man is unable to gain an escape or reversal due to interlocking or overlapping hands.

"The Figure-4 Head Scissors" -- The figure-4 head scissors is a technical violation in the neutral position.

"Improperly Equipped" -- Reporting to the scorer's table, not properly equipped, or not ready to wrestle or any equipment that is detected as being illegal after the match has started is a technical violation (e.g, no headgear, no mouthguard with braces).

Incorrect Starting Position or False Start

Often thought of as a technical violation, but in fact not among the six technical violations listed in the National Federation Rule Book. If a wrestler assumes an incorrect neutral or referee's position, a violation would be called. This also includes false starts in both situations. Note, unlike technical violations, the first two offenses are "cautioned" (The official will form a "C" with his hand.), and then penalize if the infraction occurs again. Furthermore, this violation is not on the "progressive penalty chart." Thus, a wrestler cannot be disqualified for an incorrect starting position or false start.


The unsportsmanlike rule for contestants covers two situations in which the penalty is administered differently. They are as follows:

Situation One -- If the wrestler is unsportsmanlike during the bout, his opponent would be awarded match point(s) in the following manner:

First Offense - 1 point; Second Offense - 1 point; Third Offense - 2 points; Fourth Offense - Disqualification from the match.

Situation Two -- If an unsportsmanlike act occurs prior to the first period or after the third period (or fall), the offending wrestler's squad would lose one team point. On the second offense, he would be asked to leave the premises and his squad would lose another team point.

(Note: Flagrant misconduct at any time would result in immediate disqualification from the dual meet or tournament and the deduction of ALL team points earned.)


The Coaches -- No coach can be disrespectful during competition. If such were the case, the official would deduct one point from the violator's team. On the second offense, the perpetrator would be removed from the premises for the duration of the dual meet or tournament session.

Take note. When a coach's initial action is "flagrant" in nature, he would be expelled immediately (with the loss of two team points) for the duration of the dual meet or the tournament.

The Spectators -- No fan may react in an unsportsmanlike manner toward the referee or the opposing coach or wrestlers. This unbecoming response can result in removal from the gym, fieldhouse or arena on the official's comment. Important point, neither team would be penalized for misconduct of an over-zealous spectator, and it is up to the home management to remove the offender.


The lowering of shoulder straps while on the mat is considered an act of unsportsmanlike conduct. The only time it would not be penalized is if the wrestler received permission from the official to do so. Should this infraction occur before wrestling has started or after the completion of wrestling, it would be a deduction of one team-point from the offender's squad. However, if the offense takes place during the match, the violator's opponent would receive a match point.

Contact Us

Cranford Police Athletic League

P.O. Box 1021 / 8 Springfield Avenue 
Cranford, New Jersey 07016

Email Us: [email protected]
Phone : 908-709-7344
Copyright © 2024 Cranford Police Athletic League  |  Privacy Statement |  Terms Of Use |  License Agreement |  Children's Privacy Policy  Login