Wrestling Moves: Everything You Need To Know

Wrestling is both a thrilling sport and an effective martial art. Within this form of grappling, various types of wrestling moves are used.

For those getting into the sport, here is a breakdown of all the basic wrestling moves. Read below to see all the basic wrestling moves used in variations of the sport.

How Many Wrestling Moves Exist?

Amateur wrestling is made up of various wrestling moves. The number of techniques is vast and is constantly evolving.

This factor and the different setups from numerous wrestling styles make it impossible to put down an exact number of wrestling moves.

Categories of Wrestling Moves

The different types of wrestling moves are characterized by being from one of four categories of wrestling techniques.

  • Offensive Wrestling Moves
  • Defensive Wrestling Moves
  • Pinning Combinations
  • Riding & Control

To be a competent wrestler, you must be able to execute moves from all 5 of these categories of wrestling moves.

Freestyle vs. Greco-Roman Wrestling Moves

Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling use many of the same wrestling moves within the style. However, due to the different rulesets, some wrestling moves are permitted in one and not in the other.

For example, in Greco-Roman wrestling, you are only allowed to attack from the waist up. This means that variations of single and double-leg takedowns are not permitted in Greco-Roman wrestling.

Wrestling Moves vs. Judo Moves

If you’ve practiced or watched any form of grappling, you’ll see many of the same Judo techniques also used in wrestling. They may call the methods by different names, but the footwork and body movements are exactly the same.

The only difference is that the Judo variations involve using a kimono, while wrestling is no-gi. This is why many wrestlers are also excellent Judo players.

The 5 Most Popular Wrestling Moves

Out of all of the wrestling moves, there are a select few that are among the most popular and widely used. Here are five of the most popular wrestling moves.

Single Leg Takedowns 

The single-leg takedown is a must-know technique and one of the most used techniques in wrestling. There are dozens of single-leg takedown variations used within the sport. This variety of single-leg takedowns shows it is one of the most popular wrestling moves.

Double Leg Takedowns 

The double-leg takedown is next to the single-leg on the most popular wrestling moves list. It’s the most basic and arguably the most effective of all wrestling takedowns.

A good double-leg takedown is a must if you wish to improve your skill sets for grappling or MMA.


One of the most popular defensive wrestling moves is the sprawl. The sprawl is often the first mentioned when people think of defensive wrestling techniques.

A good sprawl stuffs an opponent’s takedown attempt and allows you to take a dominant top position. All of the most skilled wrestlers in the world have a good sprawl.

Controlling Techniques

The entire point of wrestling is controlling your opponent and implementing your will. This makes controlling positions among the most popular wrestling techniques.

Some of the favorite controlling techniques of wrestlers include cradles, leg rides, and half-nelsons.


The cross-face may be one of the most versatile techniques of all the wrestling moves. A cross-face is used in everything from defensive, pinning, and controlling techniques. This technique is also widely used in every other form of grappling and MMA.

Front Headlock 

The front headlock is arguably the best controlling position in all of wrestling. It isn’t just a great controlling position and an entry into takedowns and pinning positions. 

A front headlock is also one of the best defensive wrestling moves that can be practiced. You can win the match if you can control your opponent’s head. 

Fireman’s Carry 

The fireman’s carry is among the most popular wrestling moves, along with the single and double-leg takedowns. Especially in freestyle and folkstyle wrestling, where you’re constantly hooking your opponent’s legs.

There is a variety of different fireman’s carry setups used within the sport. The effectiveness of the wrestling move is why it is so popular among wrestlers.

Snap Down

Snap downs are easily the most popular technique in wrestling. You must control your opponent’s posture to enter into any offensive attack.

A snap-down is a great way to set up attacks or defend against an aggressive opponent.


The whizzer might be the most important defensive wrestling move to fend off an opponent’s takedown. A good whizzer enables a wrestler to defend a takedown while getting into a better position.

Good wrestlers know they have to have a good whizzer to defend an opponent’s take to go along with the sprawl.


Probably the most effective escaping technique in wrestling is the sit-out. Whenever you get stuck on bottom after a takedown attempt, you have to act quickly to get out.

Sit-outs are quick methods to get out of a bad position and as a reversing maneuver. This is why the sit-out is incredibly popular within not only wrestling but also BJJ and MMA.

Offensive Wrestling Moves 

There’s a variety of different offensive wrestling moves that are used within the styles of amateur wrestling. Some of the most basic techniques used in amateur wrestling are listed below.

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Fireman’s Carry
Fireman’s Carry
Front Headlock
Front Headlock
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Defensive Wrestling Moves 

Many different defensive wrestling moves are used within the different forms of wrestling. They all use variations of the different defensive wrestling techniques listed below.

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Pinning Combinations, Riding & Control

The point of wrestling is to control your opponent and earn points by riding and escaping before pinning them. Here are the different pinning combinations, riding, and control wrestling moves used within the different styles.

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Illegal Wrestling Moves

New wrestling fans also want to know the illegal techniques not allowed in any form of amateur wrestling. To add to the list, here are some illegal wrestling moves that are not prohibited in any form of amateur wrestling.

  • Biting
  • Striking 
  • Pinching 
  • Headbutts
  • Scratching
  • Joint Locks
  • Choke Holds
  • Grabbing Genitals
  • Finger In Any Orifice: 
  • Spiking: Dropping an opponent on their head.
  • Grabbing Clothes

Which Wrestling Moves Should You Learn First?

If you’re just getting into wrestling training or learning wrestling for BJJ, you should start with the basics. Learn the basics of every wrestling technique to give yourself a base. Once your basics are solid, you can focus on getting good at specific wrestling moves.

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