The Cross-Face Cradle

Have you ever picked up a book of wrestling moves and noted a move that you thought would work well for your team? If you have, and you are a new coach like myself, I’d guess that you would want to try the move yourself before introducing it to your team.

NOTE: You would probably find a partner, review the book’s explanation, try the move, and soon find that you are not in the position of advantage pictured in the book. I usually attribute this to the fact that my assistant on the move either did not read the book, or did not understand his role as the loser.

If you think about this, very few opponents are likely to have read the same book, and even fewer are going to be willing to assume the loser’s role. I usually find myself or my assistant asking, “Yeah, but what if,” and then working on variations of the move. (This gives my assistant time to read up on his role.)

The Cross-Face Cradle


Through some disastrous coaching experiences, but excellent learning experiences, and some notes from an excellent coach, Bob Bubb of Clarion (Pa.) State, I will show what I have found to be the most common “Yeah, but what if’s” of the “cross-face cradle.”

NOTE: I will cover three basic positions: (1) The opponent broken down; (2) the opponent in the referee’s position; (3) the cradle locked up and taken over. In all photos and text, the wrestlers will be identified as wrestler T (top wrestler) and wrestler B (bottom wrestler).

Break-down position: Since the cross-face cradle is best executed from the break-down position, we’ll look at moves from this position first. If wrestler B moves his far arm out to prevent wrestler T from hooking the cross-face hand, several moves are possible. But in staying with cradles, wrestler T should drop back and put in a near leg cradle.

If wrestler T can hook the cross-face hand, but wrestler B keeps his body rigid preventing the hook-up of the cradle, wrestler T should wait for an opening under wrestler B and with his free hand reach through and grab above his cross-face hand. Pulling with both hands and driving across the body of wrestler B should drive him to his back. If wrestler T can lock up the cross-face, but cannot get it over, the knee placed in the back and used as a brace often loosens the determination of wrestler B.

Referee’s position: From the referee’s position, a wrestler can very effectively use the cross-face cradle if he has confidence in the move and is willing to move out in front to get the drive necessary to lock up the cradle. Often as wrestler T moves out in front, wrestler B will hook the front leg as a counter

Wrestler T should continue the move, driving the shoulder to the knee and locking up the cradle.

If wrestler B tries an inside leg stand-up, again wrestler T should move to the side and put in a near leg cradle. If wrestler B does a sit-out, wrestler T should drive forward applying pressure to wrestler B’s back and finish the cross-face as the knee is close to the cross-face arm in the sit-out position. If wrestler T cannot lock up the cradle and wrestler B starts up, wrestler T should under-hook wrestler B’s free arm, step out in front, lift, and take B back and over.

Lock-up and take-over: Unfortunately, locking up and taking over a cross-face cradle does not necessarily mean a sure pin. There is a very obstinate inside shoulder that all too often does not end up on the mat. Here are several suggestions to help solve this problem.

The other two methods deal with the ability of wrestler T to hook or not hook wrestler B’s free leg. If the leg can be hooked, wrestler T should walk his toe back, applying pressure to the leg to help turn wrestler B’s hips and shoulders (Photo 13). If the free leg cannot be hooked, then the use of the knee in the side again helps to rotate wrestler B’s hip up and shoulders down.

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