What Does a Wrestling Tap Out Mean? | Easily Explained

In wrestling, occasionally you'll see wrestlers opt to 'Tap out'. In this page we will cover what it means, when it can happen, and the differences between tapping out in wrestling, WWE and MMA.

wrestling tap out

Table of Contents

What Does a Tap Out Mean in Wrestling?

Tapping out in wrestling requires a wrestler to use their hand to slap against the mat or their opponent. This act will let their opponent and referee know that the wrestler tapping is giving up/forfeiting the match.

Why Would Wrestlers Tap?

There's normally only two scenarios where wrestlers will tap:

  1. When a wrestler is in a position where they believe that there is no possible way to escape.
  2. When a wrestler is injured and can no longer continue

tapping out in wrestling

History of Tapping

Ironically in the early days of wrestling, wrestlers would have to verbally say that they are tapping. This can be done by saying "Tap" or "I Quit".

Over time, the physical act of tapping caught on and became the main way to tap.

Physically tapping out is a better alternative as it can be done quickly, and doesn't have the risk of the opponent not hearing them, as a verbal tap does.


However, verbal taps can still be done, and are normally done when a wrestler is in a position where he is unable to tap due to his hands being compromised.

Tapping verbally is not that common is wrestling, but is very common in Jiu Jitsu, where an opponent has both arms pinned against the floor, and tapping using the hands is impossible.

Tapping Out in WWE

Although WWE is scripted, the same rules apply. Wrestlers will tap when they are put in a certain position, and the match will end as the referee will end the fight and signal the bell to ring.

WWE wrestlers tapping is a huge deal as it's not frequent (as they'll normally be pinned for the win).

Tapping Out in MMA

In Mixed Martial Arts, tapping out is common when a fighter is trapped in a submission hold that he cannot get out of, that can risk injuring them.

If they are in a leg lock that they know they cannot get out of, they will tap in order to not have their leg broken.

If they are in a choke hold that they cannot get out of, they will tap in order to not be put to sleep, also known as losing consciousness.

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