A debate has surfaced in the women’s wrestling community: should female wrestlers be wrestling freestyle or folkstyle at the High School level? It seems that girls are wrestling folkstyle simply out of convenience for boys and coaches alike.
The issue arises from the fact that college level wrestling for girls is freestyle, while for boys it is folkstyle. Some athletes argue that folkstyle benefits novice wrestlers by teaching them the basics: how to turn from top, not to get turned from bottom, and how to grind through those long matches. Some argue that they don’t wrestle freestyle due to lack of coaches, clubs, or tournaments that offer it. High school athletes are deterred from learning freestyle because many freestyle tournaments are only available in the summer, and they do not want to learn a completely new style of wrestling just to have to re-learn and refresh their memory the next summer.
Freestyle is like a foreign language for some wrestlers. However, there are benefits to learning this style of wrestling as well. Wrestlers learn to continue to create action and better understand the movements of their bodies. Young female wrestlers could grow as athletes and be more prepared and stronger in competition for when they move on to higher levels of the sport.
Boys have a history of folkstyle wrestling, and continue wrestling this style at the college level. This is not the case for our women. At the college and international levels, women wrestle freestyle. Girls wrestling has just started increasing it’s momentum, so now is the time to advocate for more freestyle competition and coaching to benefit our male and female wrestlers alike.
Our female wrestlers want to be seen, heard, and allowed to grow as athletes at every level of competition.