In folkstyle wrestling, the objective is to pin the shoulders of an opponent to the mat and hold them down for at least two seconds. This pin -- also known as a "fall" -- ends a match. If neither wrestler is able to execute a pin, the winner is determined through a point system, in which there are five ways to score: reversal, escape, takedown, near-fall and a penalty. A reversal occurs when a wrestler on the bottom regains control of an opponent through a roll, switch or hip toss.
An escape occurs when a wrestler who is being controlled on his back escapes into a standing or sitting position. A takedown is a move in which a wrestler takes his opponent down to the mat using techniques such as bodylocks and double-leg sweeps. Near-falls occur when a wrestler holds both shoulders of an opponent within 4 inches of the mat or controls one shoulder, while the other shoulder is at a 45-degree angle to the mat. A penalty is awarded when a wrestler commits a rules infraction. Folkstyle is often used in high school and collegiate wrestling.
Freestyle wrestling features some of the same basic moves and holds as folkstyle wrestling, but it is not focused on control of an opponent. In freestyle, if no wrestler has scored for a period of 15 seconds, the referee will bring them to their feet. This typically occurs if a wrestler who is being controlled from the top by her opponent uses stalling tactics instead of trying to actively escape from the bottom. The objective of freestyle wrestling is to score points using your entire body. There is no emphasis on pinning your opponent's shoulder to the mat for two seconds, and because much of the action occurs standing, freestyle is more action-packed and exciting than folkstyle, which features a lot more ground action because of its emphasis on pins, dominance and control. Freestyle wrestling is often used in international competitions.
Competitive freestyle and folkstyle wrestlers are required to wear a one-piece uniform, known as a singlet, that is either red or blue, and regulation, ankle-length shoes. The singlet is form-fitting to conform to a wrestler's body and give him free movement. Folkstyle wrestling requires competitors to wear headgear to help protect the head and ears. In freestyle wrestling, however, headgear is optional. Wrestlers in both styles are permitted to wear knee pads.
Freestyle wrestling matches usually span one or two periods, depending on the age of the competitors. In general, younger freestyle wrestlers compete over two periods that are each 90 seconds, and older competitors wrestle for one period that spans five minutes. Folkstyle matches last three periods that vary in length from one to three minutes, depending on the age of the competitors and the specific rules of the tournament being held. The starting position in freestyle is the neutral position, in which both wrestlers stand facing one another. In folkstyle, the starting position is either neutral or the referee's position, in which one wrestler is on his knees, and the other is behind him in a control position. The first period of a folkstyle match begins in the neutral position, and then the wrestlers can choose referee's position in each of the next two periods.