wrestling with legs

Wrestling with Legs: Tips and Tricks

Wrestling is an ancient and diverse combat sport that showcases the skill, strength, and agility of athletes. While most people associate wrestling with upper body techniques like takedowns and throws, the effective use of legs is equally important in this sport. The art of wrestling with legs involves controlling and manipulating an opponent using leg-based techniques and holds. In this article, we will explore the significance of leg wrestling, various techniques, and strategies employed by wrestlers to gain an advantage on the mat.

The Role of Leg Wrestling in the Sport

Leg wrestling, also known as “leg riding” or “leg attacks,” plays a crucial role in modern wrestling. Wrestlers utilize their legs to gain leverage, maintain control, and execute various moves and transitions during a match. Effective leg wrestling can be the difference between a successful takedown or pin and a lost opportunity.

Takedowns with Leg Attacks

One of the most common uses of legs in wrestling is for executing takedowns. Wrestlers can employ various leg attacks to bring their opponents to the mat and gain control. Some popular leg attacks include:

a. Single Leg: The wrestler shoots in on one of their opponent’s legs, wrapping their arms around the thigh while driving forward to lift the leg and bring the opponent down to the mat.

b. Double Leg: In this technique, the wrestler shoots in on both of their opponent’s legs simultaneously, driving forward to lift and take them down.

c. High Crotch: Similar to a single leg, but the wrestler wraps their arms around the opponent’s waist to lift and take them down.

d. Ankle Pick: The wrestler reaches for their opponent’s ankle, grabbing it firmly and using a forward motion to unbalance the opponent and take them down.

e. Fireman’s Carry: The wrestler secures one of the opponent’s legs across their shoulders, turning in a circular motion to bring them down to the mat.

Leg Riding and Control

Leg riding involves controlling an opponent from the top position by hooking one or both of their legs. This technique is typically employed when a wrestler is in the “riding” position, aiming to prevent their opponent from escaping or standing up. Some common leg riding techniques include:

a. Leg Turk: The wrestler hooks one leg of their opponent with their own leg and controls the other leg with their hand, applying pressure to keep them flat on the mat.

b. Leg Grapevine: The wrestler wraps their legs around both of their opponent’s legs, squeezing them tightly together to maintain control.

c. Leg Ride Turn: While leg riding, the wrestler applies pressure and maneuvers their opponent to expose their back to the mat, attempting to secure a pinning position.

Escaping and Defending Leg Attacks

For a wrestler on the defensive, understanding how to escape from leg attacks and counter leg riding is crucial. Techniques such as the “Granby roll” or “Switch” can help a wrestler escape from leg riding positions and regain control. Learning to anticipate and defend against leg attacks also helps prevent opponents from gaining an advantage during takedowns.

Strategies for Utilizing Leg Wrestling

Effective wrestling with legs requires a combination of technique, timing, and physical conditioning. Wrestlers must train to develop strength in their legs, core, and hips to execute leg attacks and maintain control in various positions.

Here are some strategies for utilizing leg wrestling effectively:

a. Timing and Setups: Proper timing and setups are vital for successful leg attacks. Wrestlers must read their opponents’ movements and exploit openings to execute leg takedowns with precision.

b. Chain Wrestling: Chain wrestling involves linking multiple techniques together seamlessly. Wrestlers can use a combination of upper body and leg attacks to keep their opponents off-balance and increase the likelihood of a successful takedown.

c. Countering and Transitions: Skilled wrestlers can use leg wrestling to transition between different moves and positions. For instance, they can use a failed single leg attempt to transition into a double leg takedown or switch to a leg ride.

d. Anticipation and Defense: Recognizing when an opponent is attempting a leg attack or setting up a leg ride is crucial for effective defense. Wrestlers must learn to anticipate their opponent’s movements and react accordingly to prevent being taken down or controlled.

e. Core Strength and Balance: Strong core muscles are essential for maintaining balance and stability during leg attacks and defensive maneuvers. Wrestlers should focus on core strengthening exercises to enhance their overall performance.

Leg Wrestling in Different Wrestling Styles

Leg wrestling techniques are used in various styles of wrestling, including folk style (collegiate), freestyle, and Greco-Roman wrestling. While some variations exist in the rules and scoring systems, leg wrestling remains an integral aspect of all wrestling disciplines.

In folk style wrestling, which is commonly practiced in high schools and colleges in the United States, leg riding is an essential component for controlling opponents on top and securing near-fall points.

Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, both Olympic styles, emphasize explosive leg attacks and transitions. Wrestlers in these styles often employ single and double leg takedowns, as well as leg laces and gut wrenches for scoring points and attempting pinballs.

Safety and Precautions

As with any combat sport, safety is paramount in wrestling. Wrestlers should receive proper training and coaching to learn leg wrestling techniques safely. Practicing with experienced partners and under the supervision of qualified coaches helps reduce the risk of injuries.

It is essential for wrestlers to be aware of their opponents’ bodies’ positions and movements to prevent accidental injuries, such as hyperextensions or strains.


Leg wrestling is an integral aspect of modern wrestling, providing athletes with a diverse array of offensive and defensive tools. By mastering leg attacks, leg rides, and various defensive maneuvers, wrestlers can gain a competitive advantage on the mat. Proper training, conditioning, and technique are essential for successful leg wrestling, contributing to the dynamic and thrilling nature of this ancient combat sport.

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