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Beach Wrestling 101: Everything you need to know to be successful in this HOT summer sport!

by Kelly Kusumoto 17 Sep 2022

Maybe you’ve just heard about beach wrestling, or you happened to stumble upon a local Beach Wrestling tournament, but you’re still wondering what exactly is Beach Wrestling? 

Whether you’re looking to compete, sign your kid up for a tournament, or have no wrestling experience whatsoever and want to try it, this article is for you!

What is Beach Wrestling?

So let’s get into the basics. Beach Wrestling is a modified, outdoor version of Olympic Wrestling. Instead of wrestling on a mat, you are wrestling in the sand, or more specifically, on a beach

You can wrestle on the beach with a friend, or you can go to a local tournament held by a wrestling organization. Local tournaments are great because you can wrestle a larger variety of people. With everyone having a unique wrestling style, it will challenge your skills and take them to the next level!

Plus, if you manage to place you’ll be able to take home a medal. Show off that hardware to all your friends and family and let them know how well you did!

If you decide to wrestle in a local tournament, there are a few things you will need to know going into it to have a great experience. 

What are the rules for Beach Wrestling?

Beach wrestling rules are simpler and shorter than traditional wrestling matches. In terms of environment, the diameter of a wrestling circle stays the same size as a traditional mat at 7 meters long. 

The first to score 3 points is the winner. You score 1 point if you push your opponent out of the circle or if you take them down. You can also score 2 points if you take your opponent down from their feet all the way to their back.

Each match is only three minutes long so you have to work quickly!

If the score ends in a tie then the winner will be based on what is called “criteria”. Whoever scored the biggest point move will be considered the winner. If that is equaled out then the winner will be whoever scored last.

What do I need to wear?

You do not need to wear a singlet in Beach Wrestling. General attire for boys are swim shorts or fight shorts. For women, a sports bra and shorts are acceptable attire. However, as long as your attire is skin tight you should be fine (e.g. rash guards and leggings). 

Loose garments are generally a huge no-no in wrestling because it can be potentially dangerous. Not only will you risk damaging your garment in the heat of the match, any fingers that get caught  in a loose garment are prone to sprains and fractures. 

The idea is to wear something that will keep you cool in the sun, will not accumulate a ton of sand, and is easy to move in. 

There are no hard and fast rules about Beach Wrestling attire. Please dress comfortably knowing that you will be rolling around in the sand under the sun!

Do I need experience to do well in Beach Wrestling?

Not necessarily. But… just like any other sport, if you have some experience it will definitely benefit you. 

The main advantage for beginners looking to try Beach Wrestling is that you’re going to be in a similar boat to even more experienced wrestlers

What do I mean by that?

Beach wrestling is still relatively new. In 2004, FILA (the international governing body of wrestling) added beach wrestling as an international sport. However wrestling in the sand has always been a thing in many countries, especially the ones who cannot afford mats. 

Many wrestlers will find that their traditional techniques and advantages will need to be modified in the sand. So while some techniques translate well from traditional wrestling to beach wrestling, even experienced wrestlers will still have to face a learning curve. 

The sand will make your movements slower and will force you to use more upper body techniques. And because the matches are shorter, conditioning does not play a large factor in a wrestler’s success. 

So have at it. Win or lose it’ll be a blast! 

Am I too old to try Beach Wrestling?

Not at all! Well, as long as your body is sturdy enough to fall safely on the sand, then you shouldn’t have too much to worry about. 

Without a doubt your conditioning will be challenged. However, since most local tournaments separate wrestlers by age and weight, you will most likely not be going with that young fiery stud who loves to do big throws. 

However if you feel that wrestling may aggravate previous injuries or put you in a dangerous position, then it may be best to not participate. Watching is still exciting and you can learn quite a bit from the sidelines.

Is beach wrestling safe?

Beach wrestling is fairly safe compared to traditional wrestling. 

One reason is that the matches are shorter, so there is less time for injuries to occur. 

The sand also makes a big difference. Similar to a traditional wrestling mat, the sand absorbs a lot of the impact when you fall. The sand also slows down movements just enough to give you time to react and fall safely.  

With that said, wrestling is a contact sport and will always come with its risk of injuries. However you can expect a smaller chance for injuries to occur if you compete in beach wrestling. 

What is the best way to win in Beach Wrestling?

As a coach, I personally believe that the best way to win is by making the most of what you have. However if I did have to give some advice on the best way to win, it might look something like this:

    • Get good at hand control and tie ups
    • Look for pushout opportunities
    • Find opportunities to throw or counter throws
  • Be the first to attack
  • From my experience it’s quite difficult to wrestle on the sand unless you have control of the match. If you are the first to attack then the chances of taking control of your opponent go up that much more. 

    While it is tempting to always go for the moves with the big points, don’t forget to take advantage of those pushout points. Those 1 points will add up!

    If you’re not the type to dive in for the legs right away, practice getting comfortable tying up with your opponent. You’re going to be in this position often so if you can find opportunities to attack here you’ll up your chances of winning by quite a lot!

    Where can I find local Beach Wrestling Tournaments?

    If you live in the United States you can find beach wrestling tournaments through the USA Beach Wrestling website. Search for your state and local region to see what tournaments are happening next. 

    If you live in California you can find a link to tournaments here:

    California Beach Wrestling

    Beach Wrestling tournaments typically happen during the summer and early fall. 

    If you have any questions about the tournament contact the tournament director via phone or email. They will be more than happy to help you as they are always looking for participants.

    Register for a Beach Wrestling tournament today!

    If you would like to compete at a local tournament, be sure to sign up before the day of the event so that they can work out the brackets. 

    Click here to see all the tournaments happening in the States: USA Beach Wrestling 

    Wear lots of sunscreen and prepare for a day of competition and fun. 

    Good luck!

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