Wrestling Defense: Sprawl

This defensive technique can help shut down an opponent’s attack of your legs.

It’s late in the match, and you have a one-point lead. With the final period’s time draining away, your opponent becomes desperate and begins to throw a variety of attacks at you.

That’s when your defense can be the difference between surrendering two points and securing the win. An effective defensive move to work on is the sprawl.

“Sprawls are a defensive technique used when your opponent attacks your legs,” former national team assistant coach Erin Vandiver says.

Being able to sprawl effectively is an important component of defending leg attacks. The sprawl is one of many ways to block an opponent’s offense. You should work on your down block to help defend against an opponent’s leg attack from a greater distance.


You’ll perform the sprawl out of your stance. Here’s how:

  • Drop to the mat, bringing your legs back and allowing your hips to hit the mat.
  • Keep your chest and head off of the mat.

“This is a more committed defense to stop your opponent if they get all the way to your legs,” Vandiver says.

Once you tie up with your opponent, you want to make sure you are in position to take charge of the match. Having good wrist control can give you an advantage over your opponent and move them out of position. Collar tie contact is another way to help get you in position to score points.