Rock The Cradle: Pinning With The
Originally printed in the January
2006 issue of Scholastic
Reprinted here with permission
By definition, a cradle is a pinning combination in which
the offensive man locks his hands around the neck and knee of
his opponent. In order to secure a cradle, it is necessary to
either catch the opponent in a position in which his head is
close to one of his knees, or force him into that position.
Cradles, like most pinning combinations, are usually thought
of as being in the realm of the top man. In reality, cradles
can be applied from the top, bottom, or standing positions; anytime
the head and knee of the opponent are in close proximity. Cradles
are least often used from the bottom position and that's where
the Reverse Cradle comes in. For most coaches, the Reverse Cradle
is a hold occasionally seen when the bottom wrestler just happens
to catch his opponent really out of position. In fact, the Reverse
Cradle can be a systematic pinning offense from the bottom position.
|Step 1: Upon getting set in referee's position,
the bottom man should look out the corner of his left eye towards
his opponent as at right. Against most opponents, the bottom
wrestler will be able to see the top man's left knee. (Coaching
point: When the top man gets set so far behind that the knee
can't be seen, go to "Plan B" and hit another move.
Save the Reverse Cradle for later.) If the top man is out to
the side enough for the knee to be seen, then on the whistle
wheel around to the left and hook the top man's knee, elbow deep.
|In the photo to the right the bottom man "reinforces"
this grip by hooking his left hand on his own left knee.
Note that the head is elevated to show the grip. Reinforced as
such it is very difficult for the top man to free the knee.
|Step 2: The bottom man's free arm must now capture
the top man's head as shown at right. Even the better high school
wrestlers will lower their heads fairly often. After capturing
the head with the elbow behind the neck, the bottom man should
again reinforce this grip by hooking his own (right) knee. The
reason for catching the knee instead of immediately attempting
to lock hands is the "bulldog effect." As soon as the
bottom wrestler catches the top man's neck it's like trying to
"bulldog" a steer in the rodeo. The top man will fight
to get his head back up and he may well do so before the bottom
man can lock his hands securely. By reinforcing the grip at the
knee first, the bottom man has the head trapped down and can
"pick his spot" to lock hands and complete the move.
|Step 3: Lock the hands and work for the pin.
Force the top man to do a forward roll directly to his back and
hold him there as shown at right. Don't rush it or it might allow
the top man the momentum to roll through. If that happens, don't
release the grip; simply reset to the knees and roll the top
man to his back again more carefully this time!
|Step 4: The Peterson Roll option When the
bottom man has captured the top man's knee but cannot secure
his head, then move to the Peterson Roll. This is a great option
when the top man's right hand is either around the bottom man's
waist or is holding his right foot. The bottom man should capture
the top man's right wrist as shown at right and complete the
|To do this the bottom man places his right hip
and elbow on the mat as shown in the top photo and rolls his
opponent to his back in the bottom photo. While not a tight pinning
combination, this is potentially a 5-point move: 2 points reversal
and 3 points nearfall. Following the Peterson Roll, either of
the opponent's legs can be locked while maintaining the pinning
Counters: Once it's locked up there really isn't a counter
to the Reverse Cradle. Just pray hard and fight! If only the
knee has been captured, however, the top man should keep his
head up and with his right Hand control either the bottom man's
left foot or reach up the crotch. These actions will negate both
the Reverse Cradle and the Peterson Roll. To free the knee, stir
in equal measures of patience, toughness, and a firm crossface.
If Will Rogers had been a coach he might have said: "I never
met a crossface I didn't like!"
The advantages of the Reverse Cradle are that 1) it can pin
almost anybody, and 2) once secured there is no real counter
to it. It's only disadvantage is that since it's not a motion
offense there are only two options after trapping the leg. In
reference to the comment that it can pin almost anybody, one
of our local rivals had a 3-time state champion a few years back
that lost only 5 matches in his four years of high school. Two
of those losses were to us, in both cases to a much slower, weaker
athlete using the Reverse Cradle! There's probably a wrestler
on your team who is ready to "Rock the Cradle."
Featured in the photos are NC State tournament qualifiers
Ryan Kurtz (top) and Mike Taylor. Photos by the author, Milt
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