Wrestling Positions Part 1

In order to build your Wrestling Moves List you will need to understand all of the available starting positions.  This article will be an multi-part post that will attempt to describe the most common starting wrestling positions you might find yourself in during a wrestling match.

Neutral Position – This is both wrestlers standing on their feet facing each other and not touching.

Tie Up Position – There are several different tie ups.  Most tie ups involve a standing position where both wrestlers have engaged their upper bodies grabbing on to their opponents arms, wrists and/or heads.  The position is usually semi-neutral with only some advantage going to the wrestler who may have wrist control or arm control of their opponent.

Striking Position – This is from the standing position where one wrestler has dropped lower than their opponent and usually is in a position to grab a single or double leg.  This is usually only possible after some type of setup that forces one opponent to rise up as   the other wrestler is able to drop down in elevation.

Leg Setup Position  – After a penetration step shot one wrestler will find themselves close to their opponent with both knees on the ground.  Usually they are in position of a waist wrap and or a single or double leg.  They may also have one or both feet on the ground while in this position depending on the nature and success of the offensive strike they took.

Arm Bar Position – Both wrestlers are facing the same direction side by side.  One Wrestler has their arm (close to the arm pit) wrapped their opponents arm, their opponents wrapped arm is draped around their back.  To lock in the hold the wrestler performing the arm bar will also grab the wrist of the arm that is draped around their back.  They will pull their body forward pulling their opponent with them with the intent of changing their opponents center of gravity.

Standing Back Control –  Both Wrestlers are standing facing the same direction.  One wrestler is behind the other usually gripping their opponent around the wait and attempting to get control of one of their opponents wrists.

Referee Top Position – This is an offensive position and usually considered the position of power.  This is the starting position after a round or after the referee has called some stop to the match and a takedown has already occurred.   One knee is off the mat to the back of their opponent while the other is planted on the mat to the side.  One arm that is closest to the planted knee is holding their opponents arm right above the elbow.  The other arm is draped over their opponents far side and resting around their opponents stomach area.

Referee Bottom Position – This is a defensive position. This is the starting position after a round or after the referee has called some stop to the match and a takedown has already occurred.  One opponent is down on hands and knees.  Depending upon their style they may be siting back on their ankles with either their toes tucked under them or pointing flat out.

Referee Side Control – From the referees stance both opponents are still on their knees however the top position has shifted to one side of their opponents and one leg and one arm are controlled.  This is typically a setup for the Bow and Arrow or other types of breakdowns.

Leg Ride – The wrestler in top position has moved his planted knee off the mat and has pushed his foot and leg through his opponents legs and snaked his leg around his opponents.  The Wrestler in the top position has moved his center of gravity from his planted knee to the center of the back of the wrestler on the bottom.    The top wrestler will hold this balance in this position by grabbing the bottom wrestlers far side arm or leg.

Top Release Position – This position starts with the bottom wrestler in the basic bottom referee’s position.  The top wrestler has chosen to be in a standing position on both feet with only the palms of their hands on the back of their opponents.  The intent of the top wrestler is to allow the bottom wrestler and escape in order to perform a takedown on them.  This is usually a preferred position for a offensive wrestler that has great takedown technique and may not be as comfortable or confident with converting to a pin.  They will continue to score two points to every one of their opponents.

The following positions will be covered in part 2.

Side Back Control (Side Mount)

Side Front Control

Full Back Control (Rear Mount)

Head and Arm Front Control

Head Wrestle Back

Head Wrestle Front




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  1. I’m one of two girls on my wrestling team and missed over a week of practice and this was helpful, but do you have any how to videos that could teach me all the moves or more detailed explinations with videos for specific moves.

    • @Courtney I am glad you found some of the info here helpful. If you are new to wrestling I would not try and learn all the moves. (I am not even sure that is possible!) Instead you should practice a few moves and learn them very… Very well. Here are a few I would concentrate on:

      Single leg and double leg
      Wrist control techniques
      Cross face breakdown
      Half Nelson
      Sprawl with cross face and spin

      I will try to get some more content up here for you and others that find it helpful.

      Best of luck!

    • Courtney sorry I missed this post earlier. How has your training been going? I don’t have any more detailed explanations of moves at this time. I will be working on a few more posts and hopefully they will help. My advice. Keep it simple. Learn the basics of stance and wrist control. Learn a few basic moves and don’t try to get to complicated. Many of the greatest wrestlers have won using only a handful of moves. GIRL POWER – I have a very good friend who is one of the rare girl wrestlers like you. Every time she beats one of the guys… they cry. I LOVE IT! Good luck and let me know if there is anything that would help you learn from a girls perspective. (I have a very good experienced resource for information on that subject!!)

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