The Best Takedowns for Short Wrestlers

Two men wrestling, side view, Seoul Olympics, (blurred  motion)

Height can play a role in what moves a wrestler should keep in his arsenal. A sensible practice routine should focus particularly on the repetition of moves that are more likely to succeed for a wrestler's particular height. This is especially true of takedowns, since both wrestlers are on their feet, making height a factor, as compared to moves on the mat, when both wrestlers are no longer standing and height is essentially neutralized. Both tall and short wrestlers can be effective as long as they learn to use their frame to their advantage.

Single Leg

The “single leg” takedown comes in many forms, but in the "low single leg," the shorter wrestler uses his lower center of gravity and lower stance to lunge for his opponent's leg from an outside angle. The “outside angle” means the attacking wrestler steps to the outside of the target leg, grabbing the heel while driving the shoulder just below the knee, with his head to the inside of the leg. The shoulder drive is important to finish the move because it throws the opponent off balance, causing him to go to the mat right away, or, if not, then allowing the leg to be picked up so the attacking wrestler can then force him to the mat.

High Crotch

The “high crotch” is another type of single leg takedown that can be effective for shorter wrestlers. While clinched with an opponent, the wrestler changes levels while throwing his opponent's nearside arm past him as he shoots in, and throwing his own arm high on the inside of the opponent's leg. The shooter finishes by lifting and rotating his opponent to the mat. When this move is executed perfectly, the lifting step is unnecessary, as the momentum of the initial part of the move causes the opponent to fall flat to the mat, while the shooter merely rotates around him to a control position.

Fireman's Carry

The “fireman's carry” is a takedown that is set up just like the high crotch, but instead of throwing the opponent's arm by, the shooter pulls the arm in tight under his own armpit. The shooter still throws his other arm high on the inside leg, and from his knees, sweeps his legs towards the opponent while pulling hard on the grasped arm until the opponent hits the mat. As the name suggests, the opponent is briefly draped over the shooter's shoulders while the shooter grasps the same-side arm and leg, similar to how a fireman would carry someone.


The duck-under is a move that allows the shorter wrestler to exploit the height difference without shooting on the legs. While in a clinch, the shooter throws his opponent’s arm by as in the high crotch or the fireman's takedoen, but instead of drop stepping, the shooter turns outward, ducks his head under the arm, then turns back inward to gain control of his opponent. The shooter then finishes the move by forcing the opponent down to the mat. As with the high crotch, with perfect execution the momentum of the move often results in the opponent on the mat already.