The Importance of Freestyle and Greco

Should I wrestle Freestyle and Greco-Roman during the off-season? Yes!!
by Daryl Weber

Editor's Note: Daryl Weber wrestled under the legendary Dan Gable at Iowa where he won an NCAA title in 1996 before a successful stint on the international circuit. As the coach of Christiansburg HS (VA), Coach Weber has lead his team to 12 straight team titles and is regarded as one of the best developers of talent in the country. For more information and tips, visit

I have been either competing or coaching in wrestling for the past 30 years and the path to being a state champion has always been off-season training in Freestyle and/or Greco-Roman wrestling.  I grew up in Iowa following this path and when I moved to Virginia thirteen years ago, nothing was different.  I have been head coach for seven years now and we have had roughly 40 State Champions.  EVERY one of those State Champions wrestled Freestyle or Greco-Roman during the spring season at a minimum, and many trained all summer to compete in Fargo, N.D. at the largest Freestyle/Greco-Roman tournament of the year.

There are plenty of opportunities in most states to wrestle in local, state, and regional events throughout the spring. Most states have a website dedicated to USA Events in that state or region.  The best place to find regional and national events for FS & GR is  Below I have put together a sample schedule that our club has used for over the past decade and is, no doubt, a huge reason we have won the past twelve straight State Championships.

Top 3 Reasons to Wrestle Freestyle and Greco-Roman

1.  Find the Best Competition

The information in this article is nothing new.  Like I mentioned earlier, this is the path the best wrestlers have been on for decades.  The best wrestlers and teams will be at off-season FS and GR tournaments and that is who you want to compete against if you desire a State Championship.  This makes my point relevant everywhere.  No matter what level your state is at if you are training to beat the best you are preparing to be a State Champion.  If you are on the state, regional and national FS and GR circuit you will probably be separating yourself from the pack.

2.  Sharpen Folksytle Techniques

Most of the Folkstyle fundamentals it takes to be a State Champion are very important in FS & GR.  Striving to be successful in FS & GR will solidify the techniques and strategies that are essential in Folkstyle.

Top 5 Folkstyle Techniques and Strategies Sharpened in FS & GR

  1. Finish shots quick and preferably on the feet.
  2. Control opponent and learn to use edge of the mat.
  3. Clearing out of Front Headlocks
  4. How to use a Tight Waist effectively
  5. Managing close matches

And many more…

3. Master The Art of Winning Close Matches

FS & GR matches are actually 2 to 3 small matches within one.  The fact that it is easier to score on your opponent forces you to be sharp at all times.  If you tech-fall your opponent in the first period you have to get up again immediately for the second period, because the scoring for that period starts from 0 all over again.  If you lose the first period by anything but a pin you are still in the match.  During the high school season, I talk with my wrestlers frequently about breaking your opponent.  The key to breaking your opponent is scoring points.  In a Folkstyle match, the wider the point spread the easier it gets to score points.  When your opponent feels the match is getting away from him, he just doesn’t fight as hard.  In FS & GR it is much harder to break your opponent and he is more likely to come at you hard the entire time.  This is because the score is reset for each period and opponents know they can score a lot of points quickly.  This leads to wrestlers knowing that they have to be ready at all times, and likewise, that if you have a lead it is never safe to shutdown.  Wrestlers who compete in a lot of highly competitive FS & GR matches learn to control their opponent, hand fight, stay in great position, and wrestle tough the entire match.  These skills will take your Folkstyle to a completely different level and you will learn to master the art of winning close matches.  The Folkstyle wrestlers who win State Titles and other big matches win the close matches.  There is no better training ground to winning close matches then FS & GR matches.

Strategy to succeed in Freestyle Wrestling:

Below is a breakdown of the skills and progression a wrestler can use to quickly have success in FS & GR.  Combine these skills with your Folkstyle skills and you will definitely hold your own and be on the State Champion’s plan.

Neutral — Wrestlers can use the same scoring techniques they learn in Folkstyle to score in Freestyle.  One thing that is different in Freestyle is the exposure rule.  In Freestyle you don’t need to get a count to get 2 back points.  If you expose your opponent by breaking 90 degrees you will score 2 points.  With this in mind, your shot finishes need to be extra sharp or you can get tilted off your shots.  That means you need to tighten up your shot finishes. Also, with the exposure rules you can be tilted from a front headlock (fhl) position so you need to clear out of fhl’s quickly.  These are all things that coaches preach consistently to wrestlers during the high school season.

If you really want to have fun and learn how to score points quickly you should learn to tilt off your opponent’s shots. This isn’t a necessity but will give you more scoring opportunities from the feet and they are pretty fun to learn.

“The exposure rules impact our defense as well. We cannot roll through or fall/dive to our back and roll to defend without surrendering points.  Defensive chest locks happen but it forces us to learn how to defend more often by stuffing head and sprawling which, obviously, translates to good defense in folk style, too. “
Bill Zadick – National Freestyle Developmental Coach

Top — Learning turns from the top position in Freestyle is gravy.  As you gain experience and attend more competitive competitions, wrestlers will want to learn some maneuvers from the top position.  I have witnessed wrestlers winning Freestyle & Greco-Roman National Titles with only one effective move from the top position.  A Gut Wrench is a good one to learn because it can be used in both Freestyle and Greco-

Bottom — The Gut Wrench Defense is the first technique you should learn.  There are some simple strategies and techniques a wrestler can learn to defend the Gut Wrench.  If you can stop this move you are going to be ready for your first FS & GR tournament.

Strategy to succeed in Greco Roman Wrestling:

Greco-Roman is not all throws! Most of your scores in the neutral position are from 2-on-1’s, Drags, Underhooks, Front Headlocks, Duck Unders and modified Double Legs (Hi-Dive).  These are all techniques wrestlers are exposed to in Folkstyle.

Neutral — Like I mentioned above, most of the scoring in Greco-Roman is from basic Folkstyle holds.  If you wrestle Greco-Roman you are forced to hand fight, get angles, use setups/tie-ups and work for front headlocks.  These are all techniques teams work on during in Folkstyle.

Top — Learning some offense from the top position should be a goal of yours as you gain experience and challenge yourself with tougher competition, but it isn’t a necessity.  A Gut Wrench is the first offensive maneuver I would recommend learning to build your arsenal.  Next would be a Russian Back Breaker (yeah, scary name) adn Reverse Body Lift.

Bottom — The Gut Wrench and Reverse Body Lift should be the first moves you learn to defend from the bottom position.  There are some simple strategies that a wrestler can learn quickly to defend the Gut Wrench, Reverse Body Lift and Russian Back Breaker.  If you can stop these moves you are ready.

“From a developmental perspective the FILA Cadet National/Trials (Akron, OH) emphasizes another high level event where kids will see good competition and sharpen themselves. As you know, the winners go to Cadet Worlds and this gives them another opportunity, at the same time promotes the Olympic/World Championship dream and the skills needed to get there.”
Bill Zadick – National Freestyle Developmental Coach

Sample Spring and Summer Schedule

Below is a typical spring and summer plan that I have used in Christiansburg since 2000.  If you have any questions feel free to email me at and I hope to see you on the circuit this spring.


  • 27  Freestyle and Greco-Roman Clinic @ Roanoke Catholic HS (All Ages) – FREE
  • Look for other clinics or clubs to attend.  It is always more fun to train with a group of like-minded individuals.
  • Find a local tournament to get your spring season started.


  • Get in 1-3 local Freestyle & Greco-Roman Tournaments.


  • Maybe one more local tournament or join a club team and hit up a dual tournament.
  • Attend the state tournament for your age division.
  • Attend 1-2 Regional Tournaments.


You may want to switch gears back to Folkstyle and hit up a camp or two during the summer. If you are doing well in Freestyle and Greco-Roman or are at the level where you want to challenge yourself against the best in the country, then there are more Freestyle and Greco-Roman opportunities to attend through USA Wrestling.


  • East Coast Duals
  • Cadet National Duals
  • Schoolboy/girl National Duals
  • Kids Nationals


Junior/Cadet National Championships





Meet The Three Girls Who Just Won Both Age Levels In Fargo

106 lbs - Mia Palumbo, IL Junior Women's Fargo Champion

Many of you have heard the term "doubling up" when it comes to Fargo. For the guys, that usually means winning both freestyle and Greco-Roman national titles. But for the women, it means winning both age groups.

#6 Jordan Crace Commits To Michigan State

138 lbs Round Of 128 - Jordan Crace, Ohio vs Caleb Rea, West Virginia

Right after Fargo 2018 ended, Jordan Crace verbally committed to wrestle for Michigan State University. Crace made the announcement on social media Friday evening.

Road To Fargo Title: Carson Kharchla

170 lbs - Carson Kharchla, OH Junior Men's Freestyle Fargo Champion

Carson Kharchla was on a seek-and-destroy mission once he stepped into the Fargodome last weekend and everything in his path had no chance. 

Road To Fargo Title: Jordan Decatur

132 lbs - Jordan Decatur, OH Junior Men's Freestyle Fargo Champion

It started off looking like just another day at the office for Jordan Decatur. Then it ended with the red button flashing, but he took another stop sign back to Ohio.

Road To Fargo Title: Brayton Lee

152 lbs - Brayton Lee, IN Junior Men's Freestyle Fargo Champion

Brayton Lee boulevard finally got a stop sign. 

FRL 302 - Which D1 Teams Will Break Out, Which Freshmen Wrestle Right Away?

FRL 302 D1 Breakout Teams

Which wrestlers from the class of 2018 will scrap right away?  Which D1 teams will break out.  FRL 302 is here. 

Which College 'Won' Fargo?

152 Quarter-Finals - Danny Braunagel vs Jared Franek

Of course, no college teams actually compete at Fargo. But armed with our recruiting knowledge and a set of complete junior men's freestyle results from Fargo, courtesy of FloArena, we can see how many points each school earned by their committed wrestlers. 

How Did Your Team's Recruits Do In Fargo?

132 lbs - Jordan Decatur, OH Junior Men's Freestyle Fargo Champion

Now that freestyle is over in Fargo, it's a good time to look back and take stock of all the big matches. You can find archived brackets on FloArena.

Join PRO Now to Get Unlimited Access to FloWrestling!

Join Now

Already a PRO Member? Log In

FRL 301 - Fargo Stock Up? Illinois' As A State At The D1 Level + Cassioppi

FRL 301 discusses Fargo results and stock, Illinois at the next level and Anthony Cassioppi.

Fargoes Nuts! Upsets From The Junior Men's Tournament!

113 Quarter-Finals - Dalton Rohrbaugh, Nauman vs Corey Gamet, Parma Western

The junior men's freestylers provided plenty of surprises in the Fargodome this year. Huge names went down and dark horses made waves. Check out some of the most eye-popping upsets from the junior men at the 2018 USAW National Championships.