INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 2, 2023) – High school wrestlers will be able to wrestle in six matches in any one day of competition beginning with the 2023-24 season. The six-match limit includes championship and consolation matches and excludes forfeits.
This change to Rule 1-4-3 was one of 12 revisions recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Wrestling Rules Committee at its April 2-4 meeting in Indianapolis. All changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.
The increase from five to six matches for regular-season competition follows the change two years ago which permitted six matches in any one day of tournament competition. With experiments conducted last year by state associations with no reported injuries, the committee thought the increase to six for regular-season competition was a natural progression.
With risk minimization in mind, the committee also approved Rule 1-4-7, which states that no contestant shall wrestle in more than 10 matches in two consecutive days.
Another significant change was made in the Definitions (Rule 5) section of the NFHS Wrestling Rules Book. In Rule 5-15-2a which lists the points of support when a wrestler is down on the mat, “foot/feet” was added to the list that includes the knee(s), side of the thigh, buttocks, hand(s) and head.
“Feet are regularly supporting the wrestler’s weight during the match while on the mat,” said Elliot Hopkins, director of sports and student services and liaison to the Wrestling Rules Committee. “We allow a wrestler’s feet to be considered supporting points while in a near-fall situation. By adding it to the list of usual supporting points on the mat, it will create more clarity and consistency for the wrestlers, coaches and officials – without creating additional injury risk.”
In another Rule 5-Definitions revision, the committee expanded the definition of forfeit in Section 13 to include a medical forfeit. The new language states that “it shall be considered a medical forfeit when the opponent fails to appear for a match due to injury or illness that occurred during the tournament. This determination will be made by the tournament director.” A medical forfeit would not count against the wrestler’s record.
In Rule 4 regarding the wrestler’s uniform and appearance, language was altered in Rule 4-1-1a to denote that the one-piece singlet may be worn with full-length, form-fitted tights. The stirrups requirement was deleted because the tights worn by wrestlers today do not ride up the wrestler’s leg causing a disadvantage to the opponent.
In Rule 4-2-1, the committee deleted additional language regarding facial hair requirements and approved a simple new sentence: Facial hair is permissible.
“If there are any questionable areas with regard to skin disease on or around the face, the on-site approved health-care professional would be involved; however, the length of the facial hair does not have any influence on the referee’s decision,” Hopkins said.
Another change approved by the committee includes Rule 1-4-4, which will allow competitors to wrestle in two consecutive matches with a 30-minute rest rather than the previous 45-minute rest period. The committee said the sentiment was that 30 minutes was sufficient rest between matches.
The final revisions were made in Rule 3-1-1, which will permit white or gray trim on the referee’s shoes, and Rule 6-5-2 regarding the end-of-match procedure, which provides the official another option to raising the hand of the winning wrestler.
Rule 6-5-2 now states that the wrestlers shall shake hands and the referee shall declare the winner “by raising the winning wrestler’s hand or by raising the color wristband of the winning wrestler on the referee’s arm or have the winning wrestler raise their own arm.”
A complete listing of the wrestling rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org. Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page and select “Wrestling.”
According to the 2021-22 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, wrestling is the sixth-most popular high school sport for boys with 231,874 participants in 10,797 schools nationwide. In addition, there were 31,654 girls who participated in wrestling in 4,802 schools.
Release by NFHS Communications
NFHS Wrestling Rules Book 2022-23
The NFHS Wrestling Rules Committee and the NFHS Board of Directors believes there are areas of interscholastic wrestling that need to be addressed and given special attention. These areas of concern are often cyclical, some areas need more attention than others, and that is why they might appear in the rules book for consecutive editions. These concerns are identified as “Points of Emphasis.” For the 2022-23 high school wrestling season, attention is being called to: boys and girls weight classification equipment; head/neck/cervical column (HNC) timeout; and stalling in the ultimate tiebreaker. When a topic is included in the Points of Emphasis, these topics are important enough to reinforce throughout the academic year because they are not being given the proper attention needed.
Good sporting behavior is one of the fundamental ingredients to the continued success and enjoyment of education-based high school sports and activities. In fact, in the 103-year history of organized high school sports in the United States, Good sportsmanship has been one of the most important outcomes of high school activity programs.
NFHS playing rules are written to encourage sportsmanship. Participation in these programs should promote respect, integrity and sportsmanship. However, for these ideals to occur, everyone involved in these programs must be doing their part.
The NFHS is concerned that unsporting behavior in education-based athletics has increased across all sports. As a result, the NFHS has made sportsmanship the No. 1 Point of Emphasis for the 2022-23 school year.
Sportsmanship, or good sporting behavior, is about treating one another with respect and exhibiting appropriate behavior. It is about being fair, honest and caring. When these types of appropriate behavior occur, competitive play is more enjoyable for everyone.
Coaches set the tone at athletic contests with their display of sportsmanship. If these individuals act in a sportsmanlike manner, their behavior sets the tone for players, spectators and others. If coaches, however, are complaining constantly about the decision of contest officials, spectators are more likely to do the same.
There must be a collaborative, working relationship between contest officials and game administration to promote good sportsmanship and safely conduct the contest. Everyone has their roles to play in creating a positive, sportsmanlike atmosphere at contests.
Officials should focus on the actions of players, coaches and other bench/sideline personnel. A positive, open line of communication between officials and coaches ultimately results in a better contest for everyone involved.
Contest officials, however, should never engage with spectators who are exhibiting unsporting behavior. Once the contest begins, school administration includes monitoring the behavior of spectators and intervening as needed.
If spectators are using demeaning or profane language at officials – or at others in the stands – those individuals should be removed from the contest by school administration.
In recent years, a heightened level of unsportsmanlike behavior has been occurring by spectators at high school sporting events, and it must be stopped. The use of demeaning language, or hate speech, by students, parents and other fans must cease.
High school sports and other activities exist to lift people up, not demean or tear people down. The goal is to treat everyone fairly and treat each other with respect. Any speech or harassment that is insulting, demeaning or hurtful will not be tolerated.
High schools must establish a culture that values the worth of every single person – both players on the school’s team and players on the opposing team. There must be a no-tolerance policy regarding behavior that show disrespect for another individual.
Good sports win with humility, lose with grace and do both with dignity. It takes the efforts of everyone every day to ensure that sportsmanship remains one of the top priorities in education-based activity programs.
Illegal, Harmful Holds and Maneuvers
In the purest form of wrestling, two similar-sized athletes use their strength, guile, ability and repertoire of moves to control and dominate their opponent. We have always made moves and maneuvers that intentionally injure or punish a wrestler illegal and work on removing them from our sport. We are noticing that some moves, maneuvers and holds are starting to filter down to our level from other influences that are not education-based athletics. We abhor any move, maneuver or hold that intentionally injures limbs and joints or penetrates any body cavities. Allowing those techniques to infiltrate into our sport is irresponsible, dangerous and in certain jurisdictions illegal.
No one wants to drive any students out of the sport. If parents are not confident that their children are in a well-managed risk environment, then they will not let them participate. That would be devastating to a sport that we have already seen a trend of declining participation numbers. We need to do everything possible in our schools to attract more students and retain them in our programs. Eliminating questionable moves, maneuvers and holds is the first place to start. Regardless of your role as either coach or referee, you must work together to keep certain techniques out of our sport.
Wrestling is one of the oldest sports in the world. The benefits of participating are phenomenal in developing high school students to better understand their bodies, appreciate discipline, be self-reliant and develop toughness that will be a life skill that they will use their entire lives. Let us direct our attention to preserving our sport for many more generations to come.
Uniforms are a key component in every sport. However, they are extremely important to wrestling because their proper waring, cleanliness and sizing is critical to their functionality for the wrestler. A dirty, mis-sized uniform is an impediment that interferes with wrestling. Keeping the uniform washed and clean reduces risks of transmitting skin issues which protects the opponent, referee and provides comfort for the wearer. Whenever possible a uniform (singlet or two-piece) should be issued to a student that best fits their size, weight and gender. It is disconcerting to have a lighter weight wrestler wearing a stretched out uniform while wrestling and the back of their uniform is touching the mat during competition. The referee has no other choice but to award a fall to their opponent. Whereas, a properly fitted uniform might have resulted in a different result. We have experienced an increase of over 30,000 girls entering our sport and many are being issued male uniforms. In fairness and practicality, we cannot expect a girl to perform her best is she has to be concerned in the back of her mind about her uniform and if it will support her while she is competing. We are not suggesting a wholesale overhaul of your uniform stock, but we are asking you to inspect what you have and if it is financially feasible replace your inventory with newer and properly fitted uniforms. It will benefit the morale and confidence of your wrestlers.
2022-23 WIAA Points of Emphasis
2022-23 WIAA Points of Emphasis and Reminders – We would like to remind all officials and coaches that there will be an officials’ clinic held in conjunction with the coaches’ clinic on Nov. 5th in Green Bay. Our major goal is to have uniform officiating state wide. Coaches are welcome to attend. It is important for all officials to go to the website and check your profile to make sure it is accurate and current. Failure to do so could result in your being ineligible for some post season assignments.
Our need for officials – We all realize that Wisconsin is in dire need of young officials. As in the past, I encourage all officials' associations’ state wide to adopt a mentoring program to help develop young officials. In addition, all high school coaches should encourage their athletes to consider obtaining a Limited-Restricted license. This will allow them to officiate all youth through JV level wrestling events. There is no fee to be paid by them for this license.
Officials’ clinic – Will again be held in Green Bay on Nov.5th in conjunction with the annual WWCA coach’s clinic.. This is a great event – be there if possible. You will be contacted with more information. Association leaders, please encourage your membership to attend.
Assistant referee - With the addition of the use of an assistant official in the Team Sectional Finals in all divisions this year, it is important for us to not only continue the use of the assistant official in Individual tournaments but also in dual meets and dual tournaments. Practice makes perfect and being an assistant in a dual for 14 consecutive matches is a different feel and requires a different level of concentration, communication, consistency and teamwork to be effective.
Bench Decorum – As always, sportsmanship is a large point of emphasis not only in our state but nationwide. As a reminder, during a dual meet, coaches and team personnel are to remain at or behind the team bench area. Benches are to be a minimum of 10 feet from the scorers’ table and the mat where facilities permit. Coaches are NOT allowed to place chairs in the corners, mat side or create a separate area away from the team bench. No team personnel is allowed to stand in front of the team bench or approach the mat while the match is going on. This is true for dual meets and tournaments, coaches are to be in their chairs or behind their team bench if they wish to stand. Adhering to this will provide for the best possible atmosphere for all involved.
Interpretation Change - The wrestling mat has been expanded over recent years and through an interpretation change it is expanding a bit more. As you can see in the photo from the rule book on page 66, the NFHS has determined that any part of two supporting points touching the line will be considered inbounds, even if the supporting points extend into the area beyond the line. We want to reward the aggressive wrestler whenever possible. Remember any two supporting points that are touching the line means we are in, whether that be two of one wrestler or one of each. We will be updating the resource center to reflect this interpretation change.
Website - It is very important that all officials visit the website frequently throughout the season to keep up to date on interpretations, situations and answers to a variety of questions. This is the best way we can communicate and keep everyone on the same page. Also, check out the great variety of available resources and see if anything new has been added. The website will be updated in the near future.
Consecutive Days of Competition or school cancellation - To get in line with the NFHS rules we will allow a growth allowance for consecutive days of competition of 1lb per day to a maximum of 2 pounds. So if you have a dual on Wednesday and Thursday, and a school cancellation on Friday, followed by a tournament on Saturday, you get two extra pounds on Saturday. For example, if the weight is 106 on Wednesday, it would be 107 on Thursday, it would be 108 on Friday and it would stay 108 on Saturday. You may never exceed the 2 pound allowance during the regular season and you must give your opponents(s) a 48 hour notice prior to the event. The 48 hours is required for consecutive days of competition, not for school cancellations. But they must be notified. The appropriate persons to notify would be the coach, AD or principal.
2-3-4 Pt. Near-Fall – 2016-17 Season
The logic of the rules clarification is to not allow a defensive wrestler the opportunity to commit an illegal hold, technical violation, unnecessary roughness or unsportsmanlike act in order to negate a possible fall or near-fall. This supports the philosophy that the defensive wrestler should not be able to profit through this action.
Whenever a match is stopped, the addition of a near-fall point(s) and the penalty point shall be awarded. Stoppage is defined as: 1) stopping the match due to the penalty (the match need not be stopped during the near fall unless the referee finds it necessary to do so to protect the wrestler); 2) going out of bounds; or 3) period ends; 4) the near fall situation has ended.
When near-fall criteria are imminent, and a penalty point is to be given, the award will be two points for imminent near-fall and one point for the penalty. Should near-fall criteria be met for a period of 2-4 seconds, and a penalty point is to be given, the award will be three points for meeting near-fall criteria and one point for the penalty. Should near-fall criteria be met for a period of five seconds and a penalty point is to be given, the award will be four points for meeting the five-second count and one point for the penalty. Also, if the referee is making a delayed penalty call and the defensive wrestler maneuvers out of criteria (such as bellying down) or the offensive wrestler continues on to earn a two or three-point near fall, the penalty point is to be awarded, as is the additional near-fall point.
The offended wrestler may receive a minimum of two near-fall points and a penalty point, three near-fall points and a penalty point, or a maximum of four near-fall points and a penalty point for a total of five points. Should the penalty sequence come into play, the offending wrestler may also be disqualified.
Near Fall Points – Rule 5-11-2 – The NFHS interpretation of this rule has changed a number of times over the last 3 years. As a result, this has caused some confusion and misinterpretation. Keep in mind that it is not the intent of this rule to take the defensive wrestler off his back unless you feel it is necessary in order to prevent injury to either wrestler. Proper communication by the official to the wrestlers will usually avoid stopping the match during the near-fall situation. Should you have to take a wrestler off his back due to repeated unnecessary roughness or repeated unsportsmanlike conduct, the official could easily be justified in calling flagrant misconduct at that point.
If wrestling is stopped just prior to near fall criteria being met, then the offensive wrestler has earned a 2 point NF in addition to the penalty point (3 points total). If wrestling is stopped once criteria has been met for 2-4 seconds, then the wrestler has earned a 3 pt. NF in addition to the penalty point (4 points total). If wrestling is stopped after a 3 pt. NF has been earned (five second count), then a 4 point NF will be awarded in addition to the penalty point (5 points total).
The majority of time the official will not stop the match once criteria is met. In other words, when the near fall situation has ended, then the match will be stopped and the points will be awarded as described above. Just because you did not take the defensive wrestler off his back does not nullify this rule. They have earned and will be awarded the maximum number of points as described above. The defensive wrestler may have profited from this action, no matter how minutely it may have been.
Wisconsin wrestlers will now follow the NFHS 1.5% per week weight loss plan. Once the minimum weight for wrestlers is established, they will be allowed to lose 1.5% of their body weight to reach the minimum weight. Coaches will enter the wrestler's weigh in from each competition into TrackWrestling and a new plan might be established.
For details, click HERE. For Frequently Asked Questions, click Here.
For Weight Loss Plan information, steps to enter your matches, and printing the Weigh-in sheet on Trackwrestling, click HERE.
For DXA or Hydrostatic Weighing appeals - Coaches MUST change the wrestler's Consent flag (parental permission weight) in Trackwrestling to Y - BEFORE printing the weight loss plan for the wrestler to bring to the appointment. If the wrestler weighs less than the plan allows for the date the test is done, it will be denied.