Does Freestyle Wrestling Help Folkstyle?

Are you looking to elevate your folkstyle wrestling game? Lots of old school coaches will just tell you to run some hill sprints or hit the weight room. But what about practicing a different style of wrestling. Let’s determine if freestyle is beneficial for scholastic wrestling.

Does freestyle wrestling help folkstyle?

Freestyle wrestling will help folkstyle wrestlers improve their ability to control center, hand fight and their upper body takedowns. By enhancing these aspects of wrestling you will become a better folkstyle wrestler.

Improving Your Ability To Control Center

Controlling center is a fundamental aspect of Freestyle wrestling. In freestyle when a wrestler forces his opponent out of bounds he is awarded 1 point.

Also the wrestler who is standing in the middle of the mat is considered to be the aggressor. If the outside wrestler fails to score he can be placed on a shot clock where if he does not score within 30 seconds the other wrestler receives a point.

Based on these two rules Freestyle wrestlers spend a lot of time holding center, returning to center and moving their opponent around the mat. These skills can be very important in folkstyle wrestling but are not trained as extensively.

Practicing controlling the center of the mat will help folkstyle wrestlers:

Improve their offense ability – Good luck trying to score clean takedowns when your opponent is moving you at will around the mat and forcing you backwards. It is far easier to score takedowns when you are holding your ground and moving your opponent around.

Avoid stalling calls and disqualification – Folkstyle wrestlers who are continually force out of bounds will be called for stalling, resulting in points being awarded to their opponent. Wrestlers can even be disqualified if they get bullied out of bounds multiple times. Austin DeSanto has used this trick a few times to score some wins.

Improve defensive ability – Folkstyle wrestlers who remain balanced and do not allow themselves to be moved around the mat are very difficult to score on. Have you ever tried to take a front on shot directly into a guy who is balanced and ready? I bet you didn’t score! Your takedown defense percentage will climb if you improve your ability to hold ground as you will always be in the optimal position to defend either through circling away, down blocking and or sprawling.

Improving Your Hand Fighting Skills

Unless you are Jordan Burroughs scoring against a high level wrestler without a set up is extremely difficult. Most wrestling set ups involve off balancing your opponent through the use of your hands and then clearing your arms so you have a free shot at their legs or body. This process is known as hand fighting.

As freestyle wrestling is pretty much a takedown contest wrestlers spend hours and hours perfecting their hand fighting set ups. While folkstyle wrestlers also practice hand fighting it is less sophisticated, less techniques are practiced and it just isn’t emphasized as much as in freestlye.

Improving your hand fighting game will elevate your folkstyle wrestling skills by helping your:

Offensive skills – Most beginner and intermediate wrestlers have poor hand fighting skills which results in them struggling to takedown more experienced wrestlers. Taking shots from space are just not going to work once you start getting into high school. By developing your hand fighting skills you will be able to create many more takedown opportunities and you will score more clean takedowns.

For example instead of taking a bad when your balance is easily sprawls, you will be taking a shot when your opponent is wobbly and ideally facing a different direction. You then can swoop in and and effortlessly take them off their feet.

Defensive skills – Hand fighting isn’t just about setting up your takedowns it also plays an important role in defense. If you can maintain inside position and always have your hands ready to drop down to grab underhooks, a whizzer or down block you will be almost impossible to take take down.

Overall wrestling confidence – You know when you are wrestling someone who you are significantly better than, you get that feeling and of calm confidence. Well if you elevate your hand fighting game you will be experiencing this feeling a lot more. By stopping your opponents grabbing their ties while effortlessly establishing your own will give you so much confidence as you won’t ever feel vulnerable.

Perfect Your Throws And Upper Body Takedowns

Gr 85kg 1/8: Davit CHAKVETADZE (RUS) df. Kristoffer Zakarias BERG (SWE) by VPO1, 5-2

Folkstyle wrestling is all about leg attacks and primarily singles and double legs. This heavy focus on leg attacks is because of the lack of exposure and amplitude rule.

In freestyle, wrestlers can score 4 or 5 points with a big throw while in folkstyle this same move would be a standard 2 points. Freestyle wrestlers can also score by creating exposure where a wrestlers shoulder touches the mat for a brief second. Due to the differences in rules freestyle wrestlers tend to be much stronger in the upper body position and have a greater variety of attacks than folkstyle wrestlers.

Performing big throws in folkstyle may not seem worth it as they score as much as a standard single leg but are more difficult to execute. However having extra techniques in your back pocket never hurt.

Also by practicing your upper body throws you can catch your opponents off guard who may make rookie mistakes because they haven’t trained the position thoroughly. By practicing a skill that many others lack you can create a competitive advantage and help you score some sneaky and unexpected takedowns.

If you want to be bombing kids through the mat and creating some highlight reel worthy moments then you better start training freestyle wrestling.


Folkstyle wrestlers should absolutely be training freestyle wrestling to improve their overall skills. Freestyle will make you a better folkstyle wrestler by enhancing your:

  • Ability to control center
  • Hand fighting skills
  • Upper body takedowns

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