Question- Could you give us some guidelines on how the new NFHS potentially dangerous rule on the “arm trap” should be interpreted?
Answer- There seems to be some confusion in different areas of the state on how this rule should be applied. The description of the arm trap rule described on page 61 in the NFHS rulebook is incomplete, vague, and does a poor job. If the defensive wrestler is standing with an arm(s) trapped and is lifted off the mat, with both feet off the mat, it is considered PD and the match should be stopped. The reasoning is the wrestler is unable to use their arm(s) to break the fall. If the defensive wrestler is on his feet and both feet are on the mat, or one foot is off and the other in contact with the mat, it is still PD and it may be stopped. The difference being, one should be stopped, the other may be stopped. So there is some judgement involved by the mat official. The official should always be pro-active and verbally caution (ex: “easy down”) both wrestlers when an arm(s) is trapped while in that standing position. At the November clinic in GB we discussed this at length. Some of the things to look for: If the wrestler is not lifted off the mat with an arm(s) trapped and the offensive wrestler steps out front in an attempted forward or side trip, it is considered PD and may be stopped. An anticipated forward or side trip is much more likely to be considered PD and stopped by the official. Why? The defensive wrestler will absorb much of the force to the side of head and shoulder. A straight backward trip often occurs quickly and with the offensive wrestler coming in contact with the mat first, there is little chance of being PD where an injury could occur. If the arm(s) are trapped and it appears to the official that the offensive wrestler is bending his knees for an attempted lift, the official may consider stopping it, anticipating an elevated lift. Other things to consider: If the official feels that the offensive wrestler is repeatedly lifting (2 or more times) the defensive wrestler off the mat to intentionally cause a PD situation, the wrestler could be penalized for intentionally causing a PD situation. This is considered stalling and is supported by NFHS rule. Regardless, the defensive wrestler still must always be returned in a manner that is not considered unnecessary roughness, an intentional drill, a slam, or even unsportsmanlike conduct. The situation often occurs quickly, or when the official does not get a great view of the lift, that perhaps it is not stopped, but it should have been. Is this considered bad time? No, it is not! If this occurred during a takedown situation, and the official did not call PD, nor did any other violation occur, the takedown will be awarded. Bottom line, when in doubt, the official should error on the side of safety.