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How to Watch a Wrestling Match

11 February 2011  
It's noisy, it's intense, it's elation and agony. It's wrestling.

wrestlingcollageHow to Watch a Wrestling Match

So—Have you ever attended a wrestling match? We’re talking classical, high school wrestling here, not WWE. You probably haven’t unless you or some member of your family is a wrestler. With the state high school wrestling tournament coming to Tim’s Toyota Center this week, here is your chance to see elite high school wrestlers in your own back yard. For a mere $10, less for students and children, you can see the best Arizona high schools have to offer, and it’s pretty good.

Making yourself comfortable

To start with—a few tips.

1. Bring binoculars—you will not be close to the wrestlers and things happen fast.
2. Identify which scoring table goes with which ring. That way you can keep track of who is ahead
3. There will be 4 rings for each division, be sure to sit on the correct side if you care.
4. Bring water, a magazine etc. there are usually short breaks between rounds.
5. Get up and walk around when you can.

About the Tournament

But what’s happening out there anyway? Tournaments tend to be lengthy, so you might not want to watch the whole thing (unless your grandson is wrestling.) This will be a double elimination tournament, so there will be both Championship and Consolation rounds, with semi finals and finals for both. The finals and medal rounds will feature the very best wrestlers in the state. Finals for Division 1 and 2 will be Friday night at 6:30 pm; and for Divisions 3 and 4, Saturday at 4:00 pm.

At the beginning the organizers determine the seeding (rank order) of the wrestlers in each of 13 weight classes for each of the 4 divisions (based on the size of the school.) Seeding for the state tournament is based on performance. To wrestle in the state tournament a wrestler must have placed at least 6th at the sectional tournaments last week. A bracket is all the wrestlers in a weight class, in this case 15 or so. The first ranked or seeded wrestler will wrestle the lowest seed in the first round. The winner of that round will wrestle in the next championship round, and the looser will transfer to the consolation rounds.

What's a Match?

Each contest between two wrestlers is a match. At this level a match consists of 3 two minute periods. Time will stop running if the contestants accidentally leave the ring, if the referee determines there is a stalemate, or if one of the wrestlers is temporarily injured, especially if he bleeds. The wrestlers are identified by a red or green ankle band. After the first period the referee throws a disc with a green side and a red side into the air. If the wrestler’s color comes up he gets to decide in which position the wrestlers will start the next round. Or he may elect to defer his choice to the last round.

There are three possible starting positions, standing (or neutral), kneeling up (you are on top and in control), kneeling down.(you are on the bottom and not in control.) There are various strategies to deciding which position to choose, but usually if a wrestler is behind on points he will choose to start kneeling down.

So how do you win a match? The ideal is to pin your opponent. A pin happens when one contestant holds his opponent’s shoulders to the mat for 2 seconds. The referee will slap the mat. This ends the match. If neither is able to pin, then the contest is decided on points. Points are awarded by the referee for various accomplishments. If you get your opponent to the mat and are in control, this is worth 2 points. If your opponent then escapes he gets 1 point, if he turns the tables and controls you (a reverse), he gets 2 points. If you are able to get your opponent on his back and under your control, you may be awarded 2 or 3 points depending on how long you hold him there. The referee will have a green band on one wrist and a red band on the other. He will hold up whichever hand represents the scoring wrestler and the number of fingers representing the number of points awarded. This will be recorded by the scorekeepers. The winners and losers for each round are posted on “bracket sheets” in hallways or other places where everyone can see them.

So if you’ve never seen wrestling—you’ll never have a better chance. Come out and support your local teams, or find a favorite wrestler and follow him—or her. While most wrestlers are boys, there are a significant and growing number of female wrestlers. Have fun.

If you go

Where: Tim's Toyota Center, Prescott Valley

When: February 10, 11, 12 (Thursday, Friday, Saturday)

Time: On Thursday, the sessions start at 10:30, Friday and Saturday, sessions start at 9:30; Typically there are 2 - 4 sessions per day

Cost: $10 per session, or $15 for an all day pass; Students with School ID are $6; Children 5 and under are free

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Cindy LaMaster