Wrestling Jargon for Newbies by Dummies

There was a great suggestion by PSUGuru in bscaff's awesome Welcome To Wrestling article about giving some insight into what the various words mean. We'll start with some of the more common moves you'll be hearing as we begin the season and how they apply to wrestling action.

Let's start with various takedowns (TDs for short). In wrestling, you score 2 points when you successfully gain control of your opponent and take them to the mat. There are a bunch of technicalities as to what truly is or isn't a takedown, but there's no need to get into that. The rules have been adjusted to be a bit more liberal with takedowns just like football rules have been adjusted to be a bit more liberal with pass interference calls, both for the same goal: more scoring.

In wrestling, takedown attempts can be broken down into 2 categories: attacks to the legs and attacks to the upper body. Let's start with some of the more common attacks to the legs as they're the most prevalent.

Single Leg Takedown

In the gif below we're going to see Nico take a sweet single leg shot to his opponent's left leg. What we're talking about with a single leg shot is when a wrestler shoots (lowers their level and attempts to grasp their opponent) at one of their legs.


In the image above you can see Nico lower his hips while moving his body forward and reaching in to get his opponent's left leg. Take note of Nico's head position when he gets the opponent's leg. A single is typically shot with the head on the inside of the opponent's thigh. There are several reasons why, but all you really need to know is that it is easier to score from the position with your head inside (because it's legal for your opponent to try and saw your face off with their forearm if your head is on the outside).

Here's another example of a single leg, this time courtesy of Morgan McIntosh. Again, notice how he lowers his level and attacks Schiller's left leg while keeping his head on the inside.


Now, notice how once Morgan has the leg he starts working to then get behind his opponent. That's called finishing the takedown. In both gifs above we see Nico and Morgan need to work to get behind their opponents in order to be awarded the takedown by the referee and receive the two points.

This brings us to the next jargon term, scramble. A scramble is when both wrestlers are trying to get control of a situation (typically after one of them shoots) or prevent their opponent from getting control. They're far more common in the lower weights because guys are just more bendy and twisty. Below is Nico shooting a single leg on Jesse Delgado who is able to scramble out of the situation without giving up the takedown.


In this situation, the goal of Delgado was simply to not give up the takedown to Nico and he uses twists, turns and some hip separation to prevent that from happening.

High Crotch

A high crotch is basically a single with your head on the outside. They're not as common but they can be just as effective. Frank Molinaro hit them to perfection as you can see below.


The thing to note with a high crotch is that it's always hit as a means to something else. When a wrestler shoots a single, they're in a pretty safe position the whole time. With a high crotch you're a bit more exposed so you don't want to just sit there with it or you will quickly have your face rearranged. In the gif above you'll see that Molinaro quickly comes back up to his feet and lifts his opponent off the mat before returning him to finish the takedown.

Double Leg Takedown

I know what you're thinking. If you can get a single leg, and your opponent has two legs (most of the time), then couldn't you also go for both of their legs? Yes! Yes you can! Here's Matt Brown demonstrating how it's done.


Looks an awful lot like a form tackle in football, doesn't it? They are pretty similar. The things to look for with a double are that the head is on the outside of the opponent and that you're driving all the way through them to put them on their ass. Usually when that happens it looks like someone in a movie getting shot at close range with a shotgun and it's called a "blast double", but there's really no such thing (unless you're Jordan Burroughs looking to copyright a move).

Ankle Picks

If you like the next move we're about to cover, I have some bad news for you. David Taylor, the Magic Man, was one of the best ever at using them and he's no longer wrestling on Penn State, meaning you missed out. But that's OK! If there's one thing Cael Sanderson can teach it's an ankle pick, so they're not going anywhere for awhile.

The element of surprise is essential with a good ankle pick. You're literally just reaching down and picking up your opponent's ankle, which is obviously not something they're just going to let you do. Let's watch David Taylor show us how it's done.


That looked easy, but that's just because David Taylor was just so. damn. good. There's actually a lot happening here so let's break it down a little.

First, notice how Taylor is working the head and shoulders of his opponent before reaching down for the ankle with his right hand. He's actually controlling his opponent and pulling his weight forward which leads to the obvious reaction of his opponent looking to get his weight back over center. Unfortunately for Hatchett, instead of getting his head and shoulders back over his heels, he tries to bring his heels to his head and shoulders and that's just what Taylor wants him to do.

Next, notice that when Taylor gets the ankle he brings it to him while pushing Hatchett's head away. The result is that Hatchett is completely off balance and has no choice but to go to the mat. A good ankle pick also includes an element of head control both to set up the move as well as to finish it. From this point Taylor just needs to follow Hatchett to the mat and he's off to a 2-0 lead 5 seconds into an NCAA final.

Alright, so that pretty much covers the leg attacks from neutral. There's a lot of particulars that add further refinement, but we're starting with the basics here (and reliving some glorious moments minus the Delgado clip). If you know the difference between a single and a double you're going to be fine. So let's check out some upper body attacks.


The most common type of throw is a headlock. In order for it to be a legal headlock you have to have your opponent's arm included with the head between your locked arms. This ensures that you don't accidentally on purpose remove their head from their neck.


Headlocks are pretty common jargon so we don't need to dive deeper into that. If you throw someone without capturing the head, that's generally just referred to as a lateral.


Duck-unders are simply a way of getting behind your opponent. From there you can either pick up a leg or suplex your opponent to the mat for the takedown. Check out Conaway hitting a duck-under at a freestyle event.


It's literally as simple as ducking under your opponent's arm on the way in. Usually it's hit from a collar tie where you're pulling down on your opponent's head first, forcing them to try and stand up, which creates the space to then get under their arm, but if you're quick and shifty like Conaway, you don't need any of that crap.


You may need this one when watching Gulibon this year. A throw-by is exactly what it sounds like, throwing your opponent past you and then getting behind.


Check out Matt Brown get his opponent a little over leveraged and then bam! Push him past and get behind. Usually for these types of moves, both throw-bys and duck unders you need to get your opponent pushing into you first. When they're pushing against you and you suddenly go slack, they no longer are met with resistance and that creates unplanned motion for you to exploit, or some type of physics explanation like that.

Snap Down Spin Behind

Just because it's so dirty, check out Ed Ruth making wrestling look easy just snapping his opponent down to the mat and then spinning behind for two. In a freestyle event. In an international competition.


So there you have it. Essentially neutral position offense for newbies by a dummy. Seems like a lot but it's not. That's the beauty of wrestling. There's so much subtlety and nuance to it and yet it can be summed up in a couple moves. Lots of points, 4 ways of scoring. Now you're versed on probably the 8 most common types of takedowns you'll see which will account for the majority of scoring and action in the matches this year.

So come join us in the open threads and watch, listen, follow along or ask questions.

You created a Fanpost! Good for you! Any content from a premium site will be deleted once we catch wind of it--as will any inappropriate content. If you simply want to share a link, quote, or video, please consider using Fanshots instead.