Cradle Wrestling: One Of The Strongest Wrestling Techniques

Cradle Wrestling: One Of The Strongest Wrestling Techniques

Arguably, one of the strongest techniques in wrestling is the cradle. It is one of the best techniques to control and pin an opponent.

For new grapplers out there, here is an intro guide for cradle wrestling. Check out the sections below to learn all of the basics and important tips for using the cradle.

What is the Cradle Wrestling Technique? 

The cradle wrestling technique is a pinning combination used in wrestling to control and pin an opponent. You trap an opponent’s head and leg with your arms to control their body to secure a pin.

It’s an effective technique that has been around since the beginning of wrestling. Since the creation of cradle wrestling, different variations and setups have been developed.

Within Jiu-Jitsu and MMA, grapplers have adopted the cradle into their arsenals. The effectiveness and simplicity of the cradle wrestle technique proves it’s an effective move that you should consider learning.

Basic Wrestling Cradles

Cradle wrestling has numerous variations and setups, but you must know the two basic versions. Those are the inside and outside cradles.

The Inside Cradle

The first of the basic cradle wrestling techniques you need to know is the inside cradle. This cradle is when you hook the opponent’s head and inside leg.

You can get into an inside cradle setup from anything from a snap-down to a sprawl. To get into the inside cradle, hook the opponent’s head and inside leg.

When you’re hooking the leg, make your arm drive in to connect your hands and not your other arm. If you drive in your hand controlling the head, it turns you and makes it easy to be put on your back.

READ MORE:  Dr. Mike Israetel: Renaissance Periodization

After connecting your hands, drive your head/chest into your opponent and put their side on the mat. From here, you can hop/walk to either side to finish your pin.

If you practice MMA or BJJ, you can use the inside cradle to transition to dominant positions or various chokes.

Inside Cradle

The Outside Cradle (Far-Side Cradle)

The outside/far-side cradle is held the opposite from the inside cradle. In this variation, you hook the outside leg of your opponent, along with their head.

Just like with the inside cradle, the far-side cradle can be setup from the same scenarios. When you’re in top position, control the head as your other arm shoots between your opponent’s leg.

The arm between their legs drives in and connects with your other arm at the opponent’s chest. There are different ways to get your opponent into a pinning position, but we’ll give you two common entries.

The safest way is to step around from behind your opponent, sit on your side, and pull them other. Your other choice is to forward roll to get them into a pinning position.

If you’re a BJJ or MMA practitioner, you can also use the far-side counter to enter dominant positions and submissions.

Outside Cradle

Cradle Wrestling Variations

There are a wide variety of cradle wrestling variations that you can learn. Here are three of the most effective variations you should consider learning.

Cross-face Cradle

The cross-face cradle wrestling is one of the most brutal cradle variations out there. This setup starts when you have your opponent flattened out on their stomach and set up a pin.

While on top, aggressively take a cross-face on your opponent and cup their far arm. This cross-face gives you complete control of your opponent’s head.

READ MORE:  Drunken Boxing

After grabbing your opponent’s arm, aggressively force their head to their knee. Once in position, lock in a near-side cradle and put your opponent on their back for the pin.

Roll-Through Cradle

When you grab a cradle, a common reaction by your opponent is to try and sit up. If they do this, it gives you a setup into a roll-through cradle.

The mistake many make when in this position is to try and force your opponent down, but they can’t do it. Instead, just put your head on the mat, roll to the side, and put your opponent on their back. 

This roll puts you on top for a pin or in side control if you’re doing BJJ or MMA.

Roll-Through Cradle


The last variation of cradle wrestling we’ll review is the suicide cradle. This cradle variation breaks the rule of never going to your back, but in certain scenarios, it works. 

Your opening for this variation opens when your opponent isn’t opening up for you to grab a far-side cradle. To get your grips, you hop over your opponent’s back to get the grips, while simultaneously putting them on their back. 

Once your grip is secured, continue rolling as your opponent rolls on top of you and onto their back. You come up with a cradle in a top pinning position.

Cradle Entries

What makes using different cradle wrestling combinations is that there are numerous entries. You can grab a cradle off of both offensive and defensive entries.

  • Snapdowns 
  • Double Leg Defense
  • Single Leg Defense
  • Sit-Outs
  • Arm Drags
  • Fake Shots
  • Trips
  • Top Position 

How to Defend Against Cradle Wrestling

Cradle wrestling techniques are tough to deal with, but there are tactics for defending against them. Here is how you can defend against cradle wrestling techniques.

Block/Break Grips

When your opponent attempts to put you in a cradle, you have to block or break the grips. You can’t let them connect their hands or you’re going to have a difficult time escaping.

READ MORE:  Dr. Mike Israetel: Renaissance Periodization

Hands In

In order to keep out of the cradle, you need to keep your hands in to defend. With your hands in, you can block your opponent’s grips, hips, and escape.

Block Opponent’s Hips

If you get put in a cradle, the first defense you must do is block your opponent’s hips. You need to create space in order to take the pressure off and make room to escape 

Kick Leg Out 

When your opponent hooks your leg, you need to quickly kick out to avoid them gaining control.

Belly Down

To escape a cradle attempt, go belly down and elongate your body. Doing this will keep your opponent from crunching you inward while giving space to escape.

Important Tips to Remember When Doing Cradle Wrestling

Cradle wrestling is a great way to control your opponent, but you must remember the details. Here are some important tips to remember when using cradle wrestling.

  • Choose Your Cradle: Know the difference between inside and far-side cradles. Each type has different entries and grips.
  • Grips: You can hold the cradle with anything from an S-grip, Gable grip, Butterfly Grips, and 
  • Bring Knee To Head: When you connect your cradle grips, aim to bring your opponent’s knee to their head. Your opponent’s level of discomfort depends on how hard you’re holding and squeezing them.
  • Head/Chest Positioning: Keep either your head or chest against or on top of your opponent’s body. They can make space to get out if you’re too low or high on their body.
  • Leg Arm Drives In: When connecting your grips, your arm between your opponent’s legs drives in. Making this motion with your arm around your opponent’s head can put you on your back.