Wrestling - Rules & Regulations

WIAA Wrestling Experiement

In an effort to conform with NFHS wrestling rules and to have input on rule changes, we have requested that the WIAA modification to injury time-outs regarding injuries to the head and neck involving cervical column, nervous system, and/or concussion be made an NFHS wrestling rule.  The proposed rule to be used is currently a WIAA State Regulation.

This proposal allows more time to evaluate potential concussions and injury to neck and cervical column when an appropriate health-care provider is present. If appropriate health-care provider is not present, the regular injury time is used. It can only be used once to avoid fake injuries. It cannot be used for any other types of injuries. An additional four minutes is reasonable and has worked well in Wisconsin. 

Data will be kept by athletic trainers throughout the 2018-19 regular season and tournament series and results will be shared with NFHS and wrestling committee.   The form is located online HERE.

Read the article HERE.

Wisconsin Weight Management Plan

Wisconsin wrestlers will change from the half-pound per day weight loss plan to 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.

Rules and Regulations

Clarity Provided to Out-of-Bounds Calls in High School Wrestling

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (April 27, 2018) — New definitions for inbounds and out of bounds highlight  high school wrestling rules changes for the 2018-19 season.

Beginning next year, a wrestler will be inbounds if two supporting points of either wrestler are inside or on the boundary line. This could be two supporting points of one wrestler or one supporting point of each wrestler that is inside or on the boundary line.

Changes related to out-of-bounds and inbounds calls, along with rules dealing with uniforms and sportsmanship, were among the rules revisions recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Wrestling Rules Committee at its April 2-4 meeting in Indianapolis. All rules changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

The revised definitions for out of bounds and inbounds eliminate subjectivity with the out-of-bounds call without increasing the out-of-bounds area. The removal of “majority of weight” from the definition will allow officials to focus on inbounds and out of bounds rather than having to make a judgment on where the majority of the wrestler’s weight is being supported.

“The majority of rules changes for the 2018-19 high school wrestling season deal with revised definitions of escape, reversal, out of bounds and takedown,” said Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and student services and liaison to the Wrestling Rules Committee. “These changes were needed to reinforce our new position with increasing scoring opportunities by addressing the supporting point issue, but not creating additional risk to the sport. We have defined what the usual supporting points are while down on the mat and how near-fall points or a fall shall be earned.”

Several articles in Rule 5 are affected by the elimination of subjectivity in the out-of-bounds call. Rule 5-10 now provides language stipulating that any combination of two supporting points allows an official to make an inbounds call. Similarly, Rules 5-15-1 and 5-15-3 introduce the same clarity while Rule 5-15-2 alters language from “knees” to “knee(s),” making it consistent with Rule 5-15-2a(4) and its use of “hand(s).”

The revision to the definition of an out-of-bounds call is clearly stated in Rule 5-18, which outlines that it occurs when there are no longer two total supporting points inside or on the boundary line (two supporting points of one wrestler or one supporting point of each wrestler). Rules 5-22, 5-25-1 and 5-25-3 will have similar language to establish inbounds and out-of-bounds calls for reversals and takedowns.

Revisions to Rule 5-24-3 will assist officials with making a stalling call. The new criteria establish that stalling in the neutral position also takes place when a wrestler is backing off the mat and out of bounds, as well as when the wrestler is pushing or pulling out of bounds.

In addition to the numerous changes related to inbounds and out-of-bounds calls, Hopkins noted sportsmanship issues, a new illegal hold and uniform promotional references as other rules changes made by the committee. Among those are the following:

•    Rule 4-1-2: New language will state that no additional manufacturer’s logo, trademark or promotional references shall be allowed on the wrestling uniforms.

•    Rule 7-1-5y (NEW): The Nelson-Cradle is a new illegal hold/maneuver that is a combination made up of a Half-Nelson on one side with a locked cradle from around the neck with the far side knee. The back of the knee acts as the other arm (arm pit) to complete the Full-Nelson pressure on the neck and throat.

•    Rule 7-4-2: New language states that repeatedly dropping to one knee, as well as one hand, to break locked hands is considered unsportsmanlike conduct.

Wrestling ranks seventh in popularity among boys at the high school level with 244,804 participants, according to the 2016-17 NFHS Athletics Participation Survey. In addition, 14,587 girls participate in the sport throughout the nation.

“Overall, the sport is stable,” Hopkins said. “We are excited to have the influx of young women wrestlers who want to challenge themselves and represent their local high schools.”

A complete listing of all rules changes is available on the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org. Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page, and select “Wrestling.”

This press release was written by Cody Porter, a graphic arts/communications assistant in the NFHS Publications/Communications Department.


About the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)

The NFHS, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the national leadership organization for high school sports and performing arts activities. Since 1920, the NFHS has led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and performing arts activities that help students succeed in their lives. The NFHS sets direction for the future by building awareness and support, improving the participation experience, establishing consistent standards and rules for competition, and helping those who oversee high school sports and activities. The NFHS writes playing rules for 17 sports for boys and girls at the high school level. Through its 50 member state associations and the District of Columbia, the NFHS reaches more than 19,000 high schools and 11 million participants in high school activity programs, including more than 7.9 million in high school sports. As the recognized national authority on interscholastic activity programs, the NFHS conducts national meetings; sanctions interstate events; offers online publications and services for high school coaches and officials; sponsors professional organizations for high school coaches, officials, speech and debate coaches, and music adjudicators; serves as the national source for interscholastic coach training; and serves as a national information resource of interscholastic athletics and activities. For more information, visit the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org

Off the Scale Activities

Off the scale activities have been identified as an area of concern and a subsequent rule change brings the topic to prominence. Any activities that are conducted to either lose or gain weight are prohibited. Activities (is not limited to) such as modifying clothing, hair, drinking fluids, gorging and regurgitation are not allowed. The practice of trying to modify a wrestler’s weight is unhealthy and unsportsmanlike.

Cleanliness of Uniforms and Pads
Communicable diseases are a major concern in the sport of wrestling and any infectious disease outbreak has the potential to end a team’s season, or even suspend the sport across an entire state. It is imperative that ALL school officials, coaches and wrestlers continually use best practices to control the spread of communicable diseases.

A major aid in preventing the spread of communicable disease is to properly clean all wrestling mats and wrestling equipment. Cleaning wrestling mats prior to each use is highly recommended. An effective disinfectant is 10% bleach (mix 1 part household bleach to 9 parts water). There is no advantage of using a stronger chlorine bleach and water solution than what is recommended above. Commercial disinfectant products are also available. Be sure that any product used states that it is effective against viruses, fungi and bacteria. Typically, the label will state the cleaner is bactericidal, fungicidal and virucidal. Please follow the directions on the label closely for the best effectiveness. When cleaning wrestling mats, it is recommended to walk backwards while mopping in an effort to minimize contamination from the shoes.

Likewise, it is imperative to clean all wrestling equipment and clothing daily. All workout gear should be cleaned after each practice. This includes towels, clothing, headgear, shoes, knee pads and any bags used to transport this equipment. In addition to cleaning wrestling equipment and wrestling mats properly, a few basic steps must be taken by all involved in the sport in order to minimize the risk of spreading communicable diseases. Communicable diseases are preventable. Following these steps will decrease the risk that these communicable diseases will be spread among the athletes in the wrestling room and/or during competition.

  • Educate coaches, athletes, referees and parents about communicable skin conditions and how they are spread. (http://www.nwcaskinprevention.com/webinar/)
  • Maintain proper ventilation in the wrestling room to prevent the build-up of heat and humidity.
  • Emphasize to the athletes the importance of showering immediately after each practice and competition. Soap must be used. If shower facilities are unavailable, athletes should clean all exposed skin with “baby wipes” immediately after practices and competitions.
  • Wash all workout clothing and personal gear after each practice and competition.
  • Coaches or athletic trainers should perform daily skin checks to ensure early recognition of potential communicable skin conditions. Athletes must not be allowed to practice or compete if an active infection is suspected, even if the infection is covered. Any suspicious lesions must be evaluated by an appropriate health-care provider prior to an athlete practicing or competing.
  • Athletes must not share practice gear, towels or personal hygiene products (razors) with others.
  • Athletes should refrain from any cosmetic shaving (chest, arms, abdomen) other than face.
  • Athletes should clean hands with an alcohol-based gel prior to every wrestling match to decrease bacterial load on the hands.
  • Make certain that athletes and coaching staff are current on all required vaccinations (MMR, Hepatitis B, Chickenpox, etc) and strongly encourage yearly influenza vaccination.

Braces that are Properly Padded and Covered
As defined by rule, any equipment that does not permit normal movement of the joints and prevents a wrestler’s opponent from applying normal holds/maneuvers shall not be allowed. Any such equipment not limited to legal hair coverings, ear guards, face masks, braces, casts, supports, eye protection, prosthetics and socks must fit snug against the wrestler’s body and if the equipment is hard and/or abrasive must be covered and properly padded with a closed-cell, slow-recovery foam padding no less than ½-inch thick. This precaution is for the wrestler and his opponent so that they can compete to the best of their abilities.

Stalemate/Fleeing the Mat
There are occasions that during a wrestling match the contestants are interlocked in a position other than a pinning situation in which neither wrestler can improve his/her respective position or gain an advantage. As soon as that situation is identified, the referee shall stop the match and wrestling shall continue. Hands locked around one leg of an opponent without the intent of taking him/her down or preventing the opponent from scoring is considered stalling. There is no passive wrestling. Wrestling is an aggressive endeavor and should be coached and executed in that manner. Regardless of the position, top, bottom or neutral, stalling is not acceptable. The referee shall be firm in enforcing the letter and spirit of the rule and consistently penalize any stalling infraction without hesitation.

Conversely, fleeing the mat to avoid wrestling at any time during a match is not permitted and will be penalized. Wrestlers shall make every attempt to stay inbounds and compete. Leaving the mat without permission from the referee or forcing an opponent out of bounds is a technical violation.

Illegality of Straight Back Salto and Suplay
Risk minimization of the wrestlers is paramount. With the advent of new and innovative holds/maneuvers influencing our sport from other levels of combat sports, grappling and various martial arts, we have to remain vigilant for any holds/maneuvers used in a way that endangers life and limb of our students. Any act that exceeds typical aggressive wrestling becomes unnecessary roughness. The use of a full straight back salto and straight back suplay are two examples that when applied (regardless of which body part hits the mat first) are illegal holds and should be stopped immediately.

Consistency of the Start of Each Match
Consistency of the start of the match is imperative for the wrestlers, coaches and spectators. There is a uniformity that creates a familiarity for the wrestling world. Knowing what to expect each and every time speaks to the professionalism of the referee and the importance of conducting the match in a professional businesslike manner. The referee starts the match from the neutral position, the wrestlers shall be between the referee and the scorer’s table. The referee will glance at the scorer’s table to make sure that they are ready and then indicate to the wrestlers to shake hands (not hand slaps). After the handshake, the referee
moves in partially between the two wrestlers to discourage a false start. Then the referee will blow his/her whistle while simultaneously giving the signal to start the match. Understanding the positioning for the referee in relationship to the two wrestlers and the scorer’s table is critical to have and necessary in maintaining control of the match. For officials, they have to hone their skills in being consistent with the start of each wrestling match they work.

Printable Version - Print and place in your rules book for reference.

2017-2018 WIAA Points of Emphasis

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 middle level wrestling events. There is no fee to be paid by them for this license. This would address some of future needs for officials, as well as help schools find officials for youth and middle level contests.

Assistant referee - The AR has been utilized in both state tournaments the past 3 seasons. It is here to stay! Not all areas of the state have bought into the AR concept of officiating. We must continue to use it whenever possible. Like anything we do, repetition creates confidence and excellence. Certification in its use can again be obtained by watching an on-line power point through the WIAA website. You will again be expected to view this short power point by Jan. 1, to be considered eligible to work the state tournaments. There is a handout on the responsibilities of the AR that will be located on the official’s resource center of the WIAA website.

There are many coaches that do not understand how the AR concept of officiating is supposed to work. As a result, there is confusion and frustration by coaches because of false expectations. The role and responsibilities of the AR are much different than that of the head referee. There are many do and do nots! If you understand how this 2 man system is supposed to work, it will greatly benefit you and your athletes. We encourage all coaches to take a look at the power point. You can access it on the coach’s web site and hopefully it will be made available on the WWCA web site as well. It is about 20 minutes in length.

Rulebook vs. Casebook – Through my discussions with coaches, and my experiences as a lead official, it has become apparent that many coaches do not read the casebook. The rulebook explains the rules in generalities but the casebook gives specific examples and situations on how the rule is interpreted and applied. Without reading the casebook, hard feelings and misunderstandings between officials and coaches will sooner or later arise. I highly encourage all officials and coaches to read and study both books.

Skin inspections – To improve the health and safety of the athlete, we have to do a simple modification on how we inspect skin. Inspect the front of the athlete, say “rotate,” then inspect the back side of the athlete. Having the athlete rotate continuously and quickly, like many of us do, results in an incomplete examination and often missing skin conditions. Be thorough! Make this adjustment.

Individual participation limits – Keep in mind that the winter season regulations remind us that a wrestler may only represent his school one level in a dual meet. This includes varsity, JV, non-varsity, exhibitions and forfeits. This certainly is more of a factor with the increased number of multiple duals that take place throughout the season.

Zero tolerance for profanity – A wrestling match is an extension of the classroom. Officials, you must discipline inappropriate language. A USC or even FMC could be warranted in many cases. Coaches should not approve of it and officials should not accept it. There is no place for it in the classroom or athletic arena.

Slams – Slams are nothing more then returning the wrestler to the mat with unnecessary force. No other criteria are necessary. As an official, if you feel uncomfortable in calling it a slam, then call it unnecessary roughness. There is no difference between the two. I receive a number of videos every year where obvious slams are not called. If you are thinking about it, call it. If you don’t, the next time it occurs it will most likely be worse. This will also prevent retaliation.

Miscellaneous. –

  • Kneepads are not intended to be held up with tape. Remove the pad if tape is needed. Sometimes a modest amount of tape is necessary to hold up a sleeve that covers a brace. Please avoid that if possible, or at the very least keep it to minimum.
  • Socks are not designed to go over the knee. Loose fitting socks are also not allowed. Both put the opponent at a disadvantage and are considered illegal equipment.
  • AR – do not get involved with officials / coaches conferences – stay with the wrestlers! – I’ve seen this too often.
  • When a wrestler is out of NF criteria but they are still in a NF situation, you never have a stalemate.
  •  Coaches – Make sure your opponent(s) receive proper notification for consecutive days of competition, school or practice cancellation.

Reminders from 2016

  • Viewing of any videotaping by the referee prior to / during / or after the conclusion of the event is strictly prohibited. This includes pre-weigh-in through post wrestling

  • Subtle pushes / shoves / and clubbing by wrestlers during the course of a match must be stopped. At the least, it must be considered USC and penalized without delay.

  • No wrestler will be allowed to weigh in with strip tape on their bodies. It must be removed prior to inspection and stepping on the scales

  • Remember that all wrestlers must be in the WI facility (room) at the beginning of the weigh in.

  • Officials are not to be wearing a microphone while on the mat to benefit television or radio broadcasting.

  • Remember the danger of the arm trap. Many were not called potentially dangerous last year, when they should have. They happen quickly, often with little warning.

  • Shoe laces must be taped to the shoe or secured by a locking device. You may not just tape the laces together.

  • All coaches are encouraged to read the winter season wrestling regulations. You are responsible to know these rules.

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.    

Coach/AD Minimum Weight Information (updated 9/26/18)

Trackwrestling Program Team Administrator Instructions 
Skinfold Test Preparations
Skinfold Measurers List for 2018-19 
Hydration Guidelines
Hydration Testing Information
Hydration Testing Supplies Form 
Hydrostatic Weighing/DXA Appeal Information* (updated 10/1/18) *The wrestler must bring a copy of their updated weight loss plan to this appointment, with latest weigh-in recorded.  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.

Assistant Referee Video Record - updated periodically

Perimeter NF Clarification

Wisconsin Wrestling Coaches Association - Aspiring Wrestling Officials Program

2-Piece Uniform Overview

Blood Time

Blood Spills

Female Officials & Weighing In Female Wrestlers 

Information for Medical Personnel

Sequence to Determine Whether Injured Athlete Can Continue to Participate

Concussions and the Referee

Verbal Communication for Wrestling Referees

Assistant Referee Talking Points (Overview)        

Role of the Off-Mat Official 

Bad Time/Corrections of Errors

Near Fall Points Clarification

Infractions - updated 10/26/17

Locked Hands or Not?

Pre-Meet Talk Information 2017-18

Interpreting the Skin Condition Medical Release

Reporting to the Mat - updated 10/31/16

Special Equipment Checklist - New 12/20/16

Stalling Overview - updated 10/26/17

Team Conduct - updated 10/31/16

Time Outs - updated 10/31/16

Weigh In Procedures

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