A match is made up of three timed periods. The time can vary depending on local rules. For example, USA Wrestling specifies three 2-minute periods with 30 seconds of rest between each period for all age categories (see table 3.1); however, some tournament organizers use 1-minute periods for the younger age groups. Before the start of a competition, check the rules to make sure you know what the time periods are for each age group.
The first period starts with both wrestlers standing. At the end of the first period, the official determines which wrestler gets to choose how to start the second period. If it is a dual meet, this protocol is decided before the first match, and the teams alternate who gets the choice. In a tournament, the athletes wear colored ankle bands to help the official and scorers identify athletes. The official flips a colored disc, and the wrestler with the winning color gets the choice.
The wrestler with the choice at the start of the second period has four options. Athletes can choose to defer the choice to their opponent so they can make the choice they want in the third period. They can choose to start in the neutral position, both wrestlers standing. They can choose to start down so that they can escape or get a reversal while they are still fresh. Finally, they can choose to start in the top position so they can work to get the fall, again, while fresh.
A match is over if one wrestler achieves a pin, or fall (see chapter 9 for more information on pins). Matches are also stopped if one wrestler gets ahead of the other by 15 or more points, a technical fall. Disqualification for misconduct, stalling, or other severe violations of the rules also stop a match. Although wrestling is one of the martial arts, or combat sports, any hold or maneuver applied with the intent to injure the opponent is prohibited.
All youth wrestling matches begin with the two wrestlers on their feet, facing each other in a neutral position, with no advantage to either one. The duration of a match is specified according to the wrestling style and the age group involved.
Substitutions are not allowed during a match; however, for a dual meet, it is possible for two athletes to weigh in at the same weight so that you can choose which athlete to use when it is that weight group’s turn to compete. Wrestling does not have a time-out in the way we understand them in basketball or football. There are no stops to be used strategically, to compose the team, or simply to catch a rest. It is possible for an athlete to ask for a time-out for injury. Injury time-outs have time limits, and once the time is reached, the athlete must compete or withdraw. The time limit is most often one and a half minutes. Different organizations allow a different number of injury time-outs. Coaches and wrestlers must know the rule for the specific competition before it begins. In college wrestling, for instance, only one time-out is allowed, and if the athlete asks for a second, the match is terminated.
The official will stop a match when blood is present so that the bleeding can be stopped and the wrestlers and the mat cleaned and disinfected. There is no time limit for blood issues, and the match will continue until it becomes clear that the bleeding is interfering with the match too much. The official can choose to stop the match at that point, and the wrestler who is not able to continue will take a loss.
Depending on the starting position for each period, the wrestlers try to score takedowns, escapes, reversals, and near falls to control their opponents on the mat, to turn them over, and then to pin their shoulders for a fall. The successful execution of these maneuvers is rewarded with match points. To understand how the various maneuvers are scored, see table 3.2.
In folkstyle team competitions, wrestlers earn team points that contribute to the team’s score. For team scoring, a win by a decision (victory by 1 to 7 points more than the opponent) is worth 3 points; a major decision (victory by 8 to 14 points), 4; a technical fall (victory by at least 15 points), 5; and a fall, 6. The loser receives no points. Winning by injury default, forfeit, or disqualification counts the same as a fall.
This is an excerpt from Coaching Youth Wrestling, 3rd Edition.