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Sweeping In For The Takedown With Matt McDonough

Sweeping In For The Takedown With Matt McDonough

Iowa City Iowa, Carver-Hawkeye arena December 6, 2008, The largest crowd to ever attend a duel meet for college packs seats. The Iowa State Cyclones have come to the University of Iowa to meet the Hawkeyes. An astonishing 15,955 screaming fans shake the building.

If this does not tell you how Iowa feels about wrestling nothing will. Iowa is home to some legends in American wrestling history, Names like Gable, Brands, Sanderson, and Kevin Jackson are just to name a few. Iowa lives and breathes wrestling culture from the youngest levels all the way to World and Olympic Championships.

 There is something special about Iowa wrestlers, they have grit and determination like the rest of the country, but having a crowd back home that rivals many major league crowds at every meet? That is just something special.

 A single leg is any position that utilizes the attacking wrestler's body against one leg of their opponent. There are plenty of variations of single legs with a wormhole of finishes off of each. 

A Snatch single normally happens from the tie up. In which a wrestler reaches down and pulls up on the same side knee. Then transferring both arms to the leg. A great example of this would be to watch Dan Gables Gold medal match at the 1972 Olympics against his Russian opponent. Dan goes off the tie straight to the leg. One of these times Dan scores the takedown on his way to his gold medal.

An Ankle pick is another type of single leg often performed off the collar tie. This time the attacking wrestler will pull heavily down on their opponent’s head to impede explosive movement. While changing levels and still connected to the collar, the other arms reach low for the ankle.  Two common finishes is to either drive with the collar arm and pull up with the ankle hand off balancing the other wrestler or option B) pull back with the ankle arm and stand tall this will often lead to other finishes depending on what the wrestler wants to do. 

If that explanation was not clear, Look into Cael Sanderson’s collegiate 159-0. Go to youtube and just start typing Cael’s name and “Ankle Pick” will come up in the searches. Or just look at one of the many highlight reels that have been made and all will be guaranteed to have his signature Ankle pick.

The last common single leg you are going to come across was not made famous by a person from Iowa but rather Oklahoma. John Smith, The most decorated US Wrestler of all time made a career out of something referred to as a “Sweep Single”

All you Karate Kid Nerds need to sit down, as we are not Sweeping the leg like Johnny Lawrence, but rather sweeping by the leg and snatching the ankle in the process.

Now you can go watch John’s 6 world level gold medal (4 world championships ,2 Olympic) matches on the internet and try to dissect what you are seeing, or you can watch one of the best wrestlers to utilize this technique more recently break it down for you.



Matt McDonough is a two time NCAA Div.I National Champion, and Two Time * Big Ten Champion.  And Three time All American From none other than IOWA!

 The reason there is a Asterisk is the circumstances behind Matt’s 3rd run for the Big Tens. He was looking great and a favorite to win until a nasty shoulder injury sidelined him during the tournament. Keeping him from the finals which halted his run for the rest of the season.

Get more out of your offense with Matt McDonough! Click Learn More!



As mentioned before John Smith was the king of the swing single but he is a Cowboy, and we are talking about Iowa wrestlers and Matt McDonough is an Iowa Wrestler.


He was coached by the legendary Tom and Terry Brands, who are both Olympic Medalist themselves.

The brands brothers do not like to not finish takedowns, and they expect no less out of their wrestlers. That is why it is so important to have options when finishing. 

The key details Matt goes over about posting the arm. Lifting the Ankle then switching to the far side leg before driving is done methodically to leave little options to defend. Matt approaches all his techniques in a scholastic manner like this.

 It really is about the finer details in wrestling, anyone can rush in and grab a single leg, but finishing at the highest of levels is a whole other story. If you don’t believe me check out how many people get in on a leg on Kyle Dake, then you tell me how many of those attempts actually end in points? 

Counter wrestling is so prominent now that actually scoring has become more difficult than ever. At the youth levels we are seeing more and more kids use splits and position to nullify a takedown. Yet if the attacker knows how to technically break down the defense, there is little anyone can do to stop them.


Matt has made an entire instructional on his sweep single and how to finish them. His system is developed so that each previous skill builds on the next one. He begins with just setting up a single leg off tie situations.


Then moves to drills on shooting in for a sweep single.


Then it gets more technical with how to finish out the backside of the single, as well as how to deal with the most common defenses used to block the takedown.

This is refreshing to know that the instructor understands moves will not work every time, and addresses how to deal with those obstacles.

The last segment is just salt and pepper to what was a great instructional. Matt goes through some different variations on how to set things up. A little real-world knowledge.

 The Bread & Butter Sweep Single by Matt McDonough

Check it out here!