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Low Level Attacks: Step By Step for More Efficient Scoring

Low Level Attacks: Step By Step for More Efficient Scoring


Alright guys, as I am sure most of you are familiar, there are many different shots in wrestling and with each of those different shots, and there is also numerous ways to finish.  Guys at the highest levels of the wrestling world usually have an A-game shot or a preference to one or the other but typically they have mastered a combination of movements to increase the likelihood of their success. 

The main point of this blog is to weigh the pros and cons of the head inside shots vs the head outside shots, but I’ll also give a bit of a breakdown on the rest of the specific takedown areas, as well as some times that it may be beneficial to pick one over the other.  Do you have a preference of which one you use? Are your shots not where you want them to be and need a little bit of guidance? Are you just looking for a new twist in your offensive repertoire to freshen up your style a little bit? Regardless of which one of these categories you may fall in to, hopefully this blog will shine a light on some good foundational material to help strengthen some weaknesses, answer some questions, and make you a better wrestler.  

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General Rules For Most Shots

Regardless of whether your bread and butter leg attack is on the outside or the inside, there are a few general rules of thumb that must be followed for an effective attack.  Here is a safe guideline for an effective shot:

  • Head Up – Your head should always be up when setting up a shot, and taking your penetration movement inward toward the leg.  Under no circumstances do we let our head get pushed down or fall during any portion of the set up and penetration. Only on the finish can the head start to fall, but even then it is best to keep it upright.  
  • Butt Down – Your butt should remain in a squatted or semi squatted position.  This ensures that our hips are ready to explode through the movement, and that our opponent is going to have a tough time getting underneath us.  Remember, if my opponent is lower than me, I’m in trouble.  
  • Back Straight – This rule falls in line a lot with the 1st one.  If are back isn’t straight and strong our stance can be manipulated to the benefit of our opponent.  If they can manipulate our stance, we can’t score plain and simple.  
  • Elbows In – This refers to the general rule that our elbows should be pinched to our sides.  Any time we begin to reach and get ourselves overextended we offer our opponent a chance to open us up to score.  
  • Stay On Your Toes – If you are flat-footed during any of this process, covering the space needed for an effective shot may seem impossible.  This is because you have to now add an extra step before you can shoot to get on your toes to be able to propel forward into your penetration step to initiate your shot.  
  • Always Circle, Never Cross – This refers to the way that we are supposed to move in our stance.  If we cross our feet, we are liable to trip ourselves, and even if we don’t it now makes it easier for our opponent to get in on our legs because instead of being spread out and evenly distributed, our legs and our weight are conjoined in one area.  
  • Putting It All Together – This rule is for once we’ve mastered the first six.  Our stance is good, our penetration steps are on point, so now what?  The answer is control. Isolate a part of the body whether it be a head and a wrist, some variation of a 2 on 1, head control leading to a snap down, or any other combination you can think of.  If your goal is head control, remember it is better to grab and snap at the crown of the head as opposed to the neck. If your goal is leg attacks then remember the ladder rule. The ladder rule refers to the concept of treating the body like a ladder.  The rule is simple. If you start in on an ankle, progress your grip from 2 on 1 around the ankle to an ankle and a knee grip. Climb up your opponent like a ladder. If you get your knee grip 1st, then progress to a hip grip.  You can also get your feet in the mix with things like trips, but the ladder rule by itself is fiercely effective.  

  • The Types And Variations Of Shots

    Typically, we have two broad categories of takedowns, High Level Takedowns, and Low Level Takedowns.  This isn’t to say which one is more effective, but just the general area on the body that each look to subdue to score.  For the sake of this blog however we are only concerned with leg attacks so this is typically a Low Level Takedown. With our Low Level Takedowns, we have three possible directions we could go; we can go under our opponent, around our opponent, or through our opponent.  All of your low level takedowns, regardless of how tricky, flashy, or complicated some may look, all fall into these three subcategories.  

    • Under – Going under our opponent is a safe and effective option when we are in on a leg or ankle and our opponent is placing most of his or her weight toward our butt.  In this scenario, it is all too easy to elevate our opponent’s leg, which opens up a little doorway for us to either scoot out of, while maintaining ankle control of course.  
    • Around – Going around our opponent is a safe and effective option for when our opponent has sprawled to keep us low and squared up with them.  From here, we will bail on whatever tie we used to set up the shot and likely transfer to a 2 on 1 around the ankle or leg while knee sliding or scooting off to the side where we have secured the leg.  
    • Through – Going through our opponent is a safe and VERY EFFECTIVE option if we are able to establish multiple points of control like a head and a leg or both legs and can combine that with good timing and a burst of speed and power.  These are usually the type of finishes that get everyone excited and on their feet that make the highlight reels and what not. It is important to distinguish however not to let our technical mindset take a backseat to flash.  It isn’t likely to have a very user friendly outcome.  

    Study Time!

    One of the best ways to get better at something is of course just to continuously practice it over time, and like any other part of wrestling, your shots will be no different.  This can be a huge experimentation process as you will find different niches that work specifically for your build that may not typically work for others. You may also find things that have been coached to you before that just don’t work for you, this is normal.  Simply use what you can and discard the rest.

    J’Den Cox, Former Mizzou wrestling standout, 3x NCAA champion (1st in program history), 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist in 2016, and 2020 Olympic front runner at 86 kilograms is arguably one of the best in the world at the low level shot.  Here at Fanatic Wrestling we have a nice video library that includes some awesome details on finishing the single leg, and also clearing the ties to get an opening for your penetration step.  In the video below you’ll see J’Den go over a high level finish on a low level attack. This example would fall in the “going around our opponent” subcategory of low level attacks.  



    In this next video, J’Den touches on a little bit of what we talked about earlier with what goes into a good shot and stance.  Even from his knees, he is still able to be explosive, threaten both ankles, and make his opponent respect the shot even though we as wrestlers are generally told wrestling from our knees is a terrible thing to do.  



    Pros and Cons

    The biggest con to a low level shot is getting sprawled on or getting your head stuffed into the mat.  If you get sprawled on, the answer to this problem is to just hand fight your way back to a neutral stance.  Keep control of one or both of your opponent’s hands to prevent them from trying to go behind you and stand back up.  Getting sprawled on sucks, but it is possible to deal with it.

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    The biggest pro to a highly effective low level shot falls hand in hand with its biggest con, it lets us threaten a score without dealing with all of our opponent’s body weight.  If you get to your ankle or leg before your opponent has time to adjust, you leave them in an extremely vulnerable position where anything they do with their weight can compromise their position simply by you changing your direction while controlling the leg or ankle.  

    Is There a Better Option?

    The number one question that seems to arise most often, regardless of the age group, is out of all the variations, is there a better option?  The answer here is simply no. There are so many different ways to set up and finish these low level attacks that you are only really bound by your imagination and your ability.  As referenced earlier, the more you play with and experiment with said attacks, you’ll find little niches that are better suited toward your attributes that could still be just as detrimental to your opponents.  I for one like being sprawled on when I am in on my ankle picks because it offers me a chance to snake my opponents attacked leg with my hand, manipulating their knee and hip, and thus controlling where they can drop their body weight, i.e. not on me.  

    In Conclusion

    The best way to get better at anything in life is to practice, and wrestling is no different.  The best words of advice I can give to you would be to practice your shots, find ones you are comfortable with and learn everything you can about them as far as set ups, finishes, transitions, and top defenses to cope with them.  Watch videos of high level wrestlers, or if you have a good wrestler at your disposal, ask them to work the technique with you. Don’t be discouraged if you cannot take them down in a live scenario right away. After all, they are a wrestler too, and if they helped you, they may be a little better at it than you are.  Start by trying your new found technique on newer guys or guys you are technically better than, then just work your way up the totem pole. With enough time and practice everything will surely fall into place.


    Float Like a Butterfly by J'Den Cox

    Float Like A Butterfly By J'Den Cox gives you the tools to become a smoother more natural grappler. J'Den goes over the movement and traps that he uses to takedown the world's best wrestlers. In this 4-part instructional J'Den takes you on a tour of what it takes to FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY!