How Is Freestyle Wrestling Different From Folkstyle?

Folkstyle wrestling is a style of wrestling which is popular in the USA and is practiced in schools and colleges. Folkstyle wrestling is similar to freestyle wrestling as they are both derived from catch as catch can wrestling. In this article we will answer some questions you may have about folkstyle wrestling.

How is freestyle wrestling different from folkstyle? Freestyle wrestling and folkstyle have different scoring systems. Pushouts are scored in freestyle, there are no escape points, and high amplitude takedowns (4/5 points) score more than standard takedowns (2 points). Freestyle has 2 three minute periods, there is no riding and both athletes start in neutral.



  • Standard takedown – 2 points
  • High amplitude takedown – 4-5 points
  • Back exposure – 2 points
  • Pushout – 1 point
  • Reversal – 1 point
  • Passivity – 1 point
  • Pin – instant victory


  • Standard takedown – 2 points
  • Reversal – 2 points
  • Back exposure – 2 points
  • Escape – 1 point
  • Stalling after at least 1 warning – 1 point
  • Pin – instant victory

To prevent stalling freestyle wrestling uses a system known as a shot clock. If the referee determines one wrestler is being too passive he was put that wrestler on a shot clock. The wrestler then has 30 seconds to score otherwise his opponent will be awarded 1 point. If one wrestler is placed on the shot clock and then the second wrestler does not score during the match then he will typically be placed on the shot clock as well.

Folkstyle does not use a shot clock to prevent stalling. Instead if a wrestler is being passive the referee will give one warning. If the wrestler is again determined to be stalling the referee will award a point to his opponent.

Riding Vs Par Terre

In freestyle wrestling when an athlete is on their hands and knees in a defensive position it is known as par terre. The attacking wrestler will try to roll the defending wrestling in hopes of scoring back exposure points or securing a pin. If the attacker is not threatening the defending the referee will pause the action and stand up both wrestlers. Defending wrestlers will typically stall and the referee will pause the action quickly. The match will resume with both wrestlers in neutral position.

In folkstyle wrestling the equivalent of par terre is known as riding or referee’s position. In folkstyle a wrestler can choose to put themselves in referee’s position at the beginning of one of the periods. Then in the next period their opponent will be able to force them into the referee’s position. In folkstyle the defending wrestler will have to escape from this position and if he can not the attacking position is able to hold them in this position for the entire period. If the attacking wrestling can hold their opponent in this position for 1 minute more than their opponent throughout the match they will score a point. However if the defending wrestler escapes they will be awarded a point.

Length Of Match

Freestyle wrestling matches consist of 2 three minute periods and last for 6 minutes. Folkstyle matches are a little different and consist of 3 periods, the first period lasts for 3 minutes and the remaining 2 periods are 2 minutes each for a total of 7 minutes.


Freestyle wrestling does not have overtime. Instead it uses a system known as criteria. If two wrestlers are even on points at the end of the match the wrestler who scored the highest point move is declared the winner. For example if both wrestlers are on 8 points but one wrestler scored a 5 point takedown while the other wrestler’s highest scoring move was a 2 point takedown then the wrestler with the 5 point takedown is declared the winner.

If both wrestlers have the same highest scoring move then which ever wrestler scored last is declared the winner. For example if the match ends 2-2 and both wrestlers scored with a 2 point takedown then whoever scored last would be declared the winner.

Folkstyle does not use the criteria system used in freestyle but instead has overtime. Folkstyle has the following overtime system:

  • 1 minute sudden victory – any score immediately wins the match, if tied they move on to next phase of overtime
  • 2 thirty second rounds – each wrestler will get a chance to start on top and whoever scores the most in their round where they start on top wins, for example wrestler A starts on top in round 1, he scores wins 3-0, in round 2 wrestler A starts on bottom and loses the round 0-2, wrestler A is declared the winner
  • If the wrestlers are still tied they repeat the 1 minute sudden victory round
  • If wrestlers are still tied they repeat the 2 thirty second rounds
  • If wrestlers are still tied whichever wrestler had the longest riding time throughout overtime is declared the winner

Starting Position

In freestyle wrestling wrestlers start both periods in the neutral position. Wrestlers do not get to decide where they want to start, both start in the standing position in wrestling stance.

In folkstyle wrestling wrestlers start the first period in neutral. In the second and third period each wrestler gets to decide which position they want to start to in. For example wrestler A in the second period can decide if he wants to start neutral, bottom or on top. Then in the third period wrestler B will get the same choice. Most folkstyle wrestlers choose to opt for bottom as they are rewarded with 1 point if they escape which is highly likely.

If a folkstyle wrestler is well behind on the scoreboard they will typically opt for neutral as this gives them the greatest opportunity to score a high amount of points and prevents their opponent from scoring an escape point.

Is Folkstyle Wrestling In The Olympics?

Is folkstyle wrestling in the Olympics? No, folkstyle wrestling is not in the Olympics. However, folkstyle wrestling’s cousin freestyle wrestling is in the Olympics and has been since 1906.

Unfortunately it is unlikely folkstyle will ever be featured in the Olympics. The IOC is looking for sports which are different than current Olympic sports, have international participation and can bring in large amounts of advertising and sponsorship revenue. Folkstyle does not meet any of those requirements as it is very similar to freestyle wrestling, is only practiced in the USA and is a niche sport which does not attract big companies.

Is High School Wrestling Folkstyle?

is high school wrestling folkstyle? Yes, high school wrestling is folkstyle. In the future high school wrestling may transition to freestyle. Many people believe that the fact American’s wrestle folkstyle is hurting their chances of winning Olympic medals and want high school wrestling to become freestyle.

Is High School Wrestling Freestyle?

Is high school wrestling freestyle? No, high school wrestling is folkstyle. However, if you are a high school wrestler who would prefer to train in freestyle you can train in private and government sponsored clubs and compete in freestyle tournaments run by USA Wrestling and other sporting bodies.

Is NCAA Wrestling Folkstyle?

Is NCAA wrestling folkstyle? NCAA wrestling is folkstyle. Many NCAA wrestlers choose to train in freestyle and greco-roman wrestling to improve their folkstyle and give them opportunities to compete in international events such as University worlds and Junior world championships.

Is There Folkstyle Wrestling In The Olympics?

Is there folkstyle wrestling in the Olympics? There is no folkstyle wrestling in the Olympics. The Olympics has 3 styles of wrestling freestyle, Greco-Roman and Judo. Folkstyle is considered to be too similar to freestyle wrestling and therefore it is unlikely it will ever feature in the Olympics.

Is College Wrestling Freestyle?

Is college wrestling freestyle? Men’s college wrestling is competed under folkstyle rules. While women’s college wrestling is competed under freestyle rules. There has been a debate over whether men’s college wrestling should be converted to freestyle in an effort to improve international results but for now is remaining folkstyle.

Is There Women’s College Wrestling?

Is there women’s college wrestling? Yes, there is women’s college wrestling. Women’s wrestling is competed under freestyle rules. In 2020 women’s wrestling was recognized by the NCAA as an emerging sport was approved at the NCAA division II and III level. Divsion I will vote on women’s wrestling status later in 2020. 

Since 2017, a number of wrestling based organizations such as USA Wrestling, Wrestle Like A Girl, the National Wrestling Coaches Association, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and the USA Olympic Committee have come together to campaign for women’s wrestling being recognized as an emerging sport by the NCAA.

These groups have also successfully created the first women’s college national championship, dubbed the Cliff Keen National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling Championships (NCWWC). All NCAA varsity women’s wrestling programs including DI, DII and DII are able to enter. The NCWWC will be the unofficial women’s college championships until the official NCAA Championship status is achieved.

Women’s college wrestling is not something new. It has been around since the 90’s and the first official team was spawned in 1993.  Women’s wrestling has been an Olympic sport since 2004 and women’s wrestling has had Senior World Championships since 1987.


Freestyle wrestling and folkstyle wrestling are closely related. The goal in both sports is to control your opponent through the use of upper body and lower body takedowns and both sports reward athletes for taking their opponents down and pinning them. The main difference is that in freestyle there is no riding, 2 three minute periods, both athletes start standing and big throws and takedowns score more points.

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