How to Use Height as an Advantage in Wrestling

Freestyle wrestler throwing

Wrestlers come in all shapes and sizes, and the best ones make the most of their physical attributes. Tall wrestlers might lack the lower center of gravity and brute strength found in shorter opponents, but they can exploit their reach and leverage advantage. Tall wrestlers are better when reacting to smaller opponents and countering with moves such as hip throws, cradles and sprawls. Practice helps tall wrestlers find their strengths and become more dominant on the mat.


Getting shorter opponents off balance helps the taller wrestler gain leverage and take control of the match. Tall wrestlers typically lack the power to "shoot" -- or charge -- their opponent and attempt takedowns. By exploiting your height advantage, however, you can counter shoots by using your long reach to grab the opponent's ankle. Known as the ankle pick, tall wrestlers are successful when executing the popular move and gaining leverage. The ankle pick allows you to lift one opposing leg off the mat and sweep -- or trip up -- the other leg, resulting in a takedown. Tall wrestlers can maintain control throughout the match by gaining an early leverage advantage and staying on top of their opponent.

Hip Throws

Charging a smaller opponent is not a good strategy for the taller wrestler, but reacting to a charge helps you gain leverage and throw your opponent to the mat. Leverage gets the opposing wrestler off balance, and that is the best time to make the throw and set up a potential pin. Hip throws are effective moves for tall wrestlers with longer legs. After securing the opposing wrestler's upper body in the standing position, your leg steps across his body and you gain leverage. With your hip slightly under the opponent's hip after the crossover move, you lift up slightly and throw him backward to the mat.


Cradles are effective wrestling moves that reward long arms and legs. Use leverage to put your opponent on his back. Use one arm to apply a headlock, placing the other arm under one or both legs. The hands are pulled up and locked tight, driving the opponent's head and knees together and forming the cradle. Tall wrestlers use their long legs for additional leverage and tilt the opponent's upper body back toward the mat, setting up pin opportunities.


Tall wrestlers who quickly react to a smaller opponent's aggressive charge gain immediate advantage of the match. The sprawl is an effective defensive counter when you have a height advantage. As the opposing wrestler charges, pull both of your legs back, drop to the mat and pounce on top of your opponent. Use your size advantage to reach under and lock up your opponent's arms and flip him over to his back. After completing the sprawl, you can maneuver around and lock up your opponent's waist.