How Long Is A Wrestling Match?

How Long Is A Wrestling Match

Wrestling matches are sometimes difficult to understand if you are not already familiar with the sport. Competitive wrestling matches are much different from WWE wrestling matches on TV, so many spectators can come in with unrealistic expectations. Keep reading to learn about the length of competitive wrestling matches.

Olympic Wrestling

olympic wrestling

An Olympic freestyle wrestling match includes two three-minute periods with a 30-second break in between. If the wrestlers are tied after these periods, the wrestler with the highest number of points from a single move wins. If they are still tied after the first tiebreaker, the wrestler with fewer cautions and warnings from the referee wins. 

There are only two three-minute periods for specific categories in international competitions like under-15, cadets, and veteran competitions with a 30-second break in between. However, many matches could end faster depending on whether or not one of the wrestlers is able to secure a pin. A pin could happen anywhere from 5 seconds into a match or 5 seconds before the end of the second period. For a wrestler to secure a pin, they have to secure their opponent’s shoulders on the mat for two seconds until the referee blows his whistle, signaling the end of the match. 

Matches could also end by points. If one wrestler scores 10 more points than their opponent at any point, the match is over. However, the rules vary for collegiate and high school wrestling in all facets.

High School Wrestling

In high school wrestling matches, the rules differ from professional competition. Depending on the age group of the wrestlers, periods could last anywhere from one to three minutes with varying overtime rules. Most high school wrestling matches are three two-minute periods with two overtime periods if necessary. The first overtime is one minute of sudden-death, with both wrestlers starting on their feet and the first one to score a point wins. If no wrestler scores a point in the first overtime period, there is a second period that lasts 30 seconds, this time starting in the referee’s position. The wrestler who scored the match’s first points gets to choose whether they want to start in the top or bottom position for the second overtime period. If the bottom wrestler escapes, they win, and if the top wrestler is able to hold the bottom wrestler in position on the ground, they win the match.

However, there are some exceptions for the length of overtime in high school wrestling matches for certain states. In Nebraska and New Jersey, high school wrestling matches have implemented the NCAA overtime rules, separating overtime into two rounds. The first sudden-death victory round is a two-minute period that takes place right after the third period. The second overtime period, called the second sudden-victory overtime period, is one minute.  

NCAA Wrestling

In college wrestling, the time limit of matches is much different than high school or international competition. At the collegiate level, matches typically last seven minutes without overtime being included. The first period is three minutes long, and the second and third periods are two minutes each. If the match goes to overtime, there are two sudden-death periods. The first lasts two minutes and the second, if necessary, is only one minute.


How long is the average wrestling meet?

The average wrestling meet typically lasts anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. Considering the fact that in most meets, every team has one wrestler from each of the 12 weight classes competing that day, and each match takes at least six minutes, they can last for well over an hour. Along with the fact that overtime could very well be in play for matches, while the time feels short, it does take some time.

How long are JV wrestling matches?

Junior Varsity wrestling matches without overtime last four minutes and 30 seconds. While there are still three periods in a junior varsity wrestling match, they only last a minute and a half each. The matches are shorter because the wrestlers are typically less experienced and conditioned than varsity wrestlers. 

How long is a modified wrestling match?

All modified wrestling matches are four minutes in length with the same three-period format as varsity and JV. However, the first period is one minute long, followed by two one-and-a-half-minute periods. If both coaches before the match agree, there are some cases where there could be three one-minute periods instead of the traditional format.