Catch Wrestling rules

Rules of Catch Wrestling




The Match


Originally, a match was made between two wrestlers .This involved the wrestlers and managers or coaches coming to an agreement at what weight and terms the match should take place. The length of time, their weights and the number of falls or submissions that had to be completed, all had to be agreed. The making of the match could take weeks until an agreement was found. Weights and ability would be taken into account with a skilful wrestler willing to give away a weight advantage.

Each wrestler had a fighting weight and their weights and ability would be taken in to account.

Billy Riley would say that if a match were to go 20 minutes, an extra ½ stone (7lbs) would make all the difference on two evenly matched wrestlers.

A promoter would source the opposition then arrange matches between wrestlers from other clubs.


Weight categories


Whilst we endeavour to keep Catch in its purest form and as close as possible to preserve its historical heritage, we have had to formulate some weight categories to standardise Catch and to come into line with current safety recommendations.




Weight classes for competitors over the age of 18.





Fly weight 8st 9lb 121lb 55kg
Bantam weight 9st 4lb 130lb 59kg
Feather weight 10st 140lb 63kg
Light weight 10st 10lb 150lb 68kg
Welter weight 11st 9lb 163lb 74kg
Middle weight 12st 12lb 180lb 82kg
Light heavy weight 14st 2lb 198lb 90kg
Heavy weight 15st 10lb 220lb 100kg
Super heavy weight 15st 10lb + 220lb + 100kg +


Matches out of these categories can be arranged with agreement by both managers and wrestlers. This must be approved by the Snakepit officiating team.


Weight classes for competitors under the age of 18.


Again historically, young people were matched by the coaches in quite an informal manner to people looking in from the outside. The coaches would base the matches on age, ability and weight.


Again, whilst we endeavour to keep Catch in its purest form and as close as possible to preserve its historical heritage, we have had formulated some weight categories to standardise Catch and to come into line with current safety recommendations.


You will note that wrestlers must be within a 2 year age span and the weight differences must be in accordance with below unless agreed by the coach/ coaches.


MINISAge 7 – 9


No more than a 3 kg weight difference. Where possible, the weight advantage to go to the younger wrestler.
PRE- JUNIORSAge 10 – 12 No more than a 3 kg weight difference. Where possible, the weight advantage to go to the younger wrestler. 
JUNIORSAge 13 – 15 No more than a 3 kg weight difference. Where possible, the weight advantage to go to the younger wrestler.
PRE SENIORSAge 16 – 17 No more than a 3 kg weight difference. Where possible, the weight advantage to go to the younger wrestler.


Please note that in the event of a “walkover” , “friendly” matches can be arranged by Coaches agreement.





Please note that different weight classes and rule-sets apply to adults and children. Wrestlers under the age of 18 can only apply foundation techniques with no submission being allowed. They can therefore only win their bout by pin only.


All wrestlers must have insurance and provide evidence / confirmation that is satisfactory to The Snake Pit.





It is important to recognise that in history there were no set guidelines regarding the time scales. Matches would go on until one of the wrestlers won with a pin or a submission.


We have had to put a timescale on competition matches for practical reasons.


The timescale is 20 minutes.


This 20 minute period allows no allocated breaks or rest periods (except in the case of injury time or where the referee may call time to address an issue).


The wrestlers are not permitted to ingest any fluid or food during the 20 minute period.


The Snake Pit can also arrange matches outside of the 20 minute time period with agreement between the 2 wrestlers prior to a match taking place.


Injury time


The referee or medical representative has the right to call injury time as and when they feel appropriate.


Dependent on the injury, this can lead to a decision to terminate the bout. For example, in the case of excessive bleeding that cannot be stopped within a reasonable timescale, the match can be terminated by the referee.



Referee’s Position.

If either wrestler leaves the wrestling area in a position of disadvantage, the referee will stop the bout and bring both wrestlers to the centre of the mat. The match is restarted with the losing wrestler in either a kneeling position or a flat stomach position based on the positions of the wrestlers when the wrestling was stopped. The dominant wrestler can cover his opponent until the bout is restarted.


If neither wrestler was in a clear dominant position when the bout was stopped, both wrestlers are brought to the centre of the mat and restarted in a standing position.





  1. Snakepit Event Manager –The event manager is responsible for the risk assessment of the venue, that the mat is safe for use and there are safe boundary areas. The event manager  also have responsibility for the weighing and matching of opponents and ensuring they are fit to compete. At the weigh in the event manager will also check the nails of the wrestlers to ensure that they are short and well groomed. He will also check that the clothing for competition is suitable and in accordance with the clothing guidelines.


  1. Referee –


(i) The Central Referee has overall say before, during and after the match. At the outset, it is his responsibility to inspect the wrestlers skin to ensure that their skin is dry of oil and grease and is substance free. It is the central referee’s overall  responsibility to ensure that there is no foul play. The wrestler’s safety is paramount throughout and it is the responsibility of the referees to ensure that this is kept at all times. It is the responsibility of the referee to apply the rules, and cease the wrestling in the  event of a pin/ fall or submission. Should the bout run the full time, the referee decides and declares a winner based on overall dominance of either wrestler. Note there are no points to be scored in Catch wrestling.



(ii)Peripheral Referee – It is the responsibility of the peripheral referee to support the Central referee and advise in case of a query. He does not have overall say but will support and work with the central referee to aid with decision making.


Please note that the referee’s role is crucial and intensive concentration is imperative. This means that adequate intervals must be given with a rotation system in place to allow adequate rest periods. No referee must officiate more than 2 consecutive bouts without a break.


  1. Time Keeper – It is the responsibility of the timekeeper to ensure that the clock is accurately done and pause should injury time be called or the Referee call for “Time” during the bout.


  1. Doctor / Medical Representative – it is the responsibility of the doctor / medical representative to ensure the safety of the wrestler as much as possible and work alongside the referees to this effect.



  1. Coaches – must be approved by The Snake Pit and must be able to establish their credentials and ability to fulfil their coaching role.






The wrestler is allowed two people in his corner to coach and manage him.




Traditionally, catch wrestlers have worn swimming trunks with a leg cut.

In modern times it is acceptable to wear close fitting short or full leg tight fighting bottoms. No Bermuda type shorts or baggy shorts  to be worn. The wearing of upper garments is optional, but if a wrestler chooses to wear upper body clothing, it must only be tight fitting rash guard attire. Clothing must not be grabbed  at any time.


Mouthguards are optional.


Headguards or protective guards are at the discretion of the referee as to whether or not they are to be allowed. The referee has the right to refuse the wearing of a headguard or knee guard if he feels that it can be used detrimentally against the opponent for example where metal framing forms part of the guard. An example of acceptable attire would be a soft knee guard used to protect a knee needing additional support.



The aim of Catch Wrestling is to gain control over your opponent.

This can be achieved in one of the following ways :-

  1. To put your opponent on his back — to pin your opponent.


A pin (or fall) is when you put your opponent on his/her back with any part of both shoulders or both shoulder blades of your opponent in contact with the mat for two seconds. When you pin your opponent, the match is over and you are the winner.



2. To force your opponent to submit. A submission is when force is used through legitimate technique in a controlled way, causing pain that the opponent wishes to concede.

It is for the wrestler to shout “Tap” and the match will immediately be terminated.

‘Gentleman Rules’.



  • Punching or slapping
  • Kicking
  • Biting
  • Eye gouging
  • Choking, strangling, no direct contact with neck (see exceptions to this rule below in ‘Acceptable’ section).
  • Fish hooks
  • Hair grabbing
  • Individual finger locks (see exceptions to this rule below in ‘Acceptable’ section.)
  • Grabbing garments




  • Foundation moves
  • Submissions over 18’s only
  • Ankle lock
  • Knee lock
  • Hip lock
  • Spine lock
  • Neck lock
  • Shoulder lock
  • Elbow lock
  • Wrist lock
  • Fingers – grips that involve 3 of the opponents fingers on one hand , as used as part of a setup for a submission is allowed, however the fingers must not be bent backwards during this process.
  • Indirect choke/ strangle, e.g, Inside arm, front face lock (grovit) etc is allowed.

On signal from the referee to confirm pin or submission, the wrestlers must immediately release the hold. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action.

Any serious breach of rules will result in instant disqualification.


Thank you,

The Snake Pit Team.

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