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The spladle is a defensive wrestling technique that is most commonly used to counter an opponent's attempt to execute a single leg takedown which ultimately and most likely will secure a pin and if not will lead to big points. This wrestling move involves trapping and splitting the opponents legs to counteract their offense to the point where the legs are being stretched in a way that is extremely uncomfortable, painful and rather embarrassing, arguably though, slightly less embarrassing than the wrestling oil check move (refer to the photo below to really see how oddly stated above a spladle really can be). 

What this article covers:

When the spladle is performed correctly, it puts the opponent in a very difficult escape position while putting a ton of pressure on their neck and body which then has an impact on their breathing and puts your opponent in a total exhaustion mode. It is an unorthodox wrestling move but when done successfully it can result in an instant win, a pin. If the opponent somehow finds a very small chance to escape, fighting out of the position will consume a lot of energy and will give you the advantage and or turning point in the match.  One of the reasons why this wrestling move is effective is because most people in America shoot the common single leg move or other types of single leg takedowns. 

Get your wrestling off on the right foot with WRESTLING FOR BEGINNERS from Dan Vallimont and FanaticWrestling.com!

wrestling spladle

Although, there are a few other variations you can hit the spladle with but it’s most commonly executed off a single leg takedown.  Other variations can include, spladle from the mat and the wrestling cross body spladle. The spladle is a great equalizer and its effective but keep in mind it is also a bit of a risky move. If you do not hit the spladle you will more than likely fall to your stomach and give up two points, however, if you hit the spladle you will be rewarded four points and most likely a pin. The spladle is a move that any wrestler can use and is one of the most impressive ways to get a fall if done properly. It is an excellent way to turn your opponent’s offense into your own and score big points off their effort.


Catching your opponents legs- firstly, you want to drop your weight to prevent the takedown. As your opponent shoots, bend your knees and decline your bodyweight while leaning your torso down over their back to set yourself in a position to trap and or catch their leg. It is important to establish a low center of gravity in order to avoid being forced backwards and also it allows you the time for the initial set up.  To initiate the spladle and to ensure you trap your opponents legs its key not to sprawl your legs too far back.

Next you want to thread your arm behind your opponent's opposite leg by extending across the opponent’s back with your controlling hand (the one that’s on the same side as the leg targeted for the takedown) and snake or thread it under their far-side leg.  Once you are in this position, you then want to lock your hands behind your opponent's knee with your palm down and your thumbs overlapping for the strongest and most effective grip. From here you need to step behind your opponent's same side leg. Once your foot is behind your opponent's be sure to plant it firmly on the mat. It is essential to do this movement quickly to keep your balance and the fluidity of the move in place.

From here you want to fall backward to start the roll. At the same time, you want to drop your weight and take your free leg and fold it underneath you. It is crucial you lean to your side and not your back as your hip touches the mat. This should result in your opponent rolling across your body as they come down on their back while their head is in an awkward and tight position tucked near your torso. Throughout the roll make sure you have a strong grip on your opponent's legs to prevent them slipping or sliding out. The roll is a “feel” movement and perfecting it will take practice but once it is mastered you have achieved the most difficult part of the spladle. Take the time to practice the roll.

The next part of the move is to pry your opponent's legs apart. As they are on the mat, you want to take their far side leg and hug it tight to your chest while extending your lower body to push the opponent's same-side leg away. Literally, splitting your opponent's legs. The name spladle is a cross between a split leg and a cradle hence the name. Focus on leg separation because this will allow your opponent to have much less of a base, therefore it will make it even more difficult for them to kick out. The strategy to the spladle is not only trapping the legs but keeping them far apart.

Depending on your positioning, if you can, bring your other leg down over the top of your opponents so that it is beside your leg that is in control. This will create a ton of pressure using your lower body weight pressing down on the trapped leg. With your free hand, grab your opponent's heel. This will keep them from being able to wiggle their leg out on either side.

Get your wrestling off on the right foot with WRESTLING FOR BEGINNERS from Dan Vallimont and FanaticWrestling.com!

spladle wrestling hold

Key Points and Tips

There are some key points to dial in on to make the spladle move more effective-

  1. Be sure to plant both feet on the mat. Once you have your opponent wrapped up in the spladle, it is imperative to keep both of your feet glued to the mat. This will allow you to keep that hold constant and tight.  Your weight should be grounded evenly  in all areas of your feet.
  1. Be sure to keep your shoulders off the mat. You do not want to lay flat on your back and risk the danger of pinning yourself. It is vital that you sit on one hip so that your weight remains over your side. This movement will secure the spladle hold and will avoid any counters that may result in pinning yourself. Make sure to have your shoulder off the mat at all times.
  1. Change to a pinning combination. As discussed, the spladle is a pinning move. This can be done by thrusting your hips forward to force your opponent’s shoulders down on the mat while placing your weight on top of them. If you are unable to finish and secure the pin, you can still earn points for a near fall. Controlling your opponents legs is essential, do not give up control of this and fight for the pin. Stay composed and patient and continue to leverage your position, either or will eventually happen—you will pin your opponent or the referee will call a stalemate in which you will be able to restart.

The spladle move places a ton of constant pressure and uncomfortable pain to your opponent's body in a contorted style which allows for this move to cause injury, however, it's not quite as painful as the piledriver wrestling move. If at any point your opponent verbally submits or looks to be injured, be sure to let go of the hold immediately as a good wrestling partner or athlete will do.

The spladle is another great technique to have in your repertoire as a wrestler, but it can also be valuable for jiu-jitsu, mixed martial arts, WWE, and other submission-based grappling disciplines. This one single spladle move allows wrestler's a chance to pin their opponent at any moment during a match.  Wrestling is a sport where you can be outmatched, less conditioned, and broken down but still find a way to pull out a win with one move, the spladle. Using and implementing the spladle can be an equalizer for any competitor. It is not easy to defend the spladle but it is certainly possible. One way is by stuffing the elbow and stacking your opponent up on his back.

There are many different pinning combinations you can learn in the sport of wrestling. When you take the time to learn and perfect one of them, you need to make sure that it will work at all levels of competition because there are many moves that, in reality, will not work on high level wrestlers. One pinning combination that you will see work at the highest levels of high school and college, the wrestling arm bar. Logan Stieber was a four time NCAA champion from Ohio State and would often use an arm bar and tight waist to turn his opponents and get pins.


Wade Schalles, a two time NCAA Division I champion and National Wrestling Hall of Fame member. When competing Schalles often used the technique to pin his opponents and win the match. Schalles holds numerous records for competitive pins. Schalles is widely credited with inventing the spladle and perfected this radically different pinning combination- a cross between a leg split and a cradle— the “spladle”.  It best expressed the limber physique which prompted Sports Illustrated to recognize and reference him as "Plastic Man." He received a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as wrestling's all-time leader in wins with 821, and in falls with 530. Wade Schalles, one of the most exciting and remarkable athletes of his time, if you would like to learn more about the spladle, I would highly recommend viewing Wade Schalles’ Fanatic Wrestling instructional videos. Here you can see exactly how Wade’s unique style was able to bring him so much success as you can implement the exact same techniques into your own wrestling skill set. Not only will you learn from the father or funk himself, you can also become a pinning machine and watch how these techniques will allow you to elevate your games to new levels.

Get your wrestling off on the right foot with WRESTLING FOR BEGINNERS from Dan Vallimont and FanaticWrestling.com!

how to do a spladle wrestling move

As mentioned, there are many more pinning moves than just the spladle.  Learn to incorporate and practice all of them to store and keep in your toolbox to diversify your pins and become great at them all or at least know them all so if you need to pull one out late in a match you can. Another great one is called the twister. Twister is a long known submission lock. The devastating crank was among the first spotted in amateur wrestling – there it was called a guillotine wrestling move. It was created in the 1920s by Cornell 1928 NCAA champion Ralph Leander Lupton.

Pinning is indeed a fine art and it takes time to master but once you have mastered and perfected the pin- wrestling becomes even more fun. I am sure Wade Schalles would agree. If you want to get real artsy though, and go aerial with your technique you should probably shift gears to professional wrestling and practice the flying drop wrestling move. This one can be extremely dangerous, be careful.

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