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Technical and Tactical Combinations in Olympic Wrestling

September 20, 2023

With this being National Coaches Week, we are sharing this excerpt from the reference material of WCL’s Analyze Performance module on the concept of Technical and Tactical Combinations in Olympic Wrestling to give a glimpse into one of the topics covered in the Competition – Development coach education program.

When it comes to analyzing the combat sports it can seem like there is a lot to track if one is going to understand how the best athletes succeed where others do not. Olympic wrestling is no different. One concept that we can use to help us with this is the Technical and Tactical Combination.

What is a Technical-Tactical Combination?

First coined by Lafon (2008) as part of the F.I.L.A. (now U.W.W.) master’s degree program, a technical and tactical combination (T.T.C.) describes the sequence of all skills performed by the wrestlers, starting from the point where they have not yet engaged to the moment when points are awarded by the officials.

In this article we fill focus on standing techniques, and in that case there are three (3) stages of a T.T.C. that coaches need to study:

  1. Set-up
  2. Control link*
  3. Scoring move

* Not all moves require a control link.

Let us start with the obvious: these stages will happen in this order. Something that should be equally obvious is that the quality of a wrestler’s set-up will greatly affect their ability to score. The same goes for the control link. Next, let’s review some…

Quick Definitions

  1. Set-up: this is everything that can help a wrestler outsmart the opponent’s defence before starting a clear technique.
  2. Control link: this stage, which typically follows the set-up, is used to establish control over the opponent’s body.
  3. Scoring move: for a standing move, this is the attempt to take the opponent to the mat. It is considered successful when the move meets the criteria for being awarded technical points.

There is More Than One Way to Do It

When it comes to set-ups, if a wrestler can use different ones to get to the same, unique control link, then we say that they are exhibiting set-up diversity.

Similarly, there is also scoring move diversity. This starts with the control link, where the wrestler is trying to create a biomechnical advantage. If a wrestler can initiate different scoring moves from the same control link, then they are able to handle a greater variety of reactions from their opponent. This demonstrates scoring move diversity.

A wrestler that has both set-up diversity and scoring move diversity is at a distinct advantage at all levels, which is what we have seen studying athletes who have had success internationally.

Data from the Wrestling Canada Lutte Gold – Medal Profile

For the purposes of this article, we focused on standing moves. This is because, according to the data that has been analyzed over the past two Olympic cycles, the most important factor in an athlete’s success at the international level is their ability to consistently score with multiple standing moves.

How many? Let’s take a look at some numbers. We have classified successful athletes into three (3) categories, and named them gold/silver/bronze. The table below shows you how many scoring moves an athlete needs :

Standing Proactive Diversity Women’s Wrestling Men’s Freestyle
Gold 7 or more 8 or more
Silver 4 to 6 6 to 7
Bronze 1 to 3 1 to 5


We hope that this article has provided you with some food for thought. Good luck coach, and we wish you and your athletes all of the best in the coming months!


Lopez-Gonzalez, D (2022). Original material on performance analysis and analyzing technical-tactical combinations.

Lafon, M. (2008). The Fila master degrees: Male and female wrestling. Fédération internationale des luttes associées (F.I.L.A./U.W.W.).