Everything Team USA wrestlers want you to know about the different Olympic disciplines

(G) J’den Cox celebrates after competing in freestyle at the World Championships in October 2018 in Budapest; (R) celebrates after competing in Greco-Roman wrestling at the World Championships in October 2018 in Budapest.

There are two styles of wrestling contested in the Olympic Games – the freestyle and the Greco-Roman wrestling. Although similar, the two disciplines are still quite different.

There are a few other styles as well, such as Folk Style, which is practiced at the high school and college level, and Beach, which is growing in popularity and will be contested in the first World Beach Games later this year.

“A lot of fans are familiar with folk wrestling but aren’t too familiar with greco or freestyle as they only watch it every four years during the Olympics,” said Dalton Roberts, Greco-Roman wrestler and member of the world team. from last year.

Men and women compete in freestyle, while Greco-Roman wrestling is reserved for men. All three US teams will be in action this week at the Pan American Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where they will compete for quota spots for the US team at the Pan American Games in Peru later this year.

Before the tournament starts, here’s everything you need to know about the differences between Greco-Roman and Freestyle.


Legs against upper body
One of the main differences between these two wrestling styles is the ability for athletes to use their legs in one, but not the other. In freestyle, wrestlers can use their legs to attack or defend their opponents. Greco forbids marking under the waist.

“I fell in love with Greco because it was different for me,” said Roberts. “When you wrestle in folk and freestyle it’s normal and they’re very similar, but with Greco it’s just a different feeling. It’s like a different puzzle, and I had never done this puzzle before and wanted to find out.

Adam Coon was part of last year’s national team in Greco-Roman and freestyle – the only athlete to compete at both national team level – and won a silver medal in Greco at the World’s Championships.

“Greco is your entire upper body and a lot of focus on positioning,” Coon explained. “You try to lower your hips in relation to your opponents to facilitate the throws and have a better center of gravity.”

But freestyle takes a very different approach.

“Freestyle is very similar to folkstyle because you can attack the legs,” Coon said. “You are further away from each other and don’t lock onto each other to try to throw your opponent. In freestyle you are crouched and bent over to keep your legs from being attacked.

There is also a lot more freedom when it comes to freestyle wrestling.

“Everything is allowed and nothing is forbidden in freestyle,” said Nick Gwiazdowski, bronze medalist at the 2017 World Freestyle Championships.

“You can use your body more and your opponent’s body more because you can make more contact,” said J’den Cox, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist in freestyle, “whereas with Greco it can be deceptive because we say that’s it. upper body, but when you tackle someone, all of your power comes from your legs. Your legs are always important.

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Position your body
The other main difference comes from positioning and contact.

“[In Greco] you’re trying to create as many touchpoints as you can so you can kick the guy off, ”Coon said. “You have to try to get below their center of gravity to throw or pin them. “

Acrobatic wrestlers can throw an opponent and regain contact after pinning him to the ground; however, in Greco, you must maintain contact with your opponent for the duration of the out for them to count and not be penalized.

“Greco does tons of moves that I never do and they are in positions that I never am in, and I find myself in positions that they would be penalized in, so there are a lot of big differences there.” , said Gwiazdowski. “Those [Greco-Roman] guys are good. Very well.”


How to train
The training also changes from discipline to discipline.

“Greco throws a lot and they focus a lot on their hips and are explosive to get into position quickly,” Cox said. “With freestyle, the transitions are more important. We try to be more fluid in our movements.

However, every now and then Cox trains with Team Greco.

“They teach me a lot of things that can be transferred to freestyle and vice versa,” he said.


The struggle is the struggle
Even though the disciplines are different, wrestlers recognize the importance of both and how it has helped to shape them.

Cox won his first national title in Greco-Roman, where he first faced Kyle Snyder, now Olympic and world gold medalist in freestyle.

“I just thrived in freestyle because I did it more, but I always liked El Greco,” Cox said.

In the end, it all comes down to one thing: wrestling.

“Once you are engaged with your opponent, the fight is the fight,” Coon said. “I would like more people to try Greco or Freestyle because you will become a better wrestler because of it. There are so many different lessons you can learn from each one. ”


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Robert J. King