Wrestling Points of Emphasis - 2018-19

By on October 22, 2018 wrestling Print

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 2018-19 high school wrestling season, attention is being called to: cleanliness of uniforms and pads, braces that are properly padded and covered, stalling, special equipment procedure and preventing injuries from a false start in the neutral position. 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.

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 percent bleach (mix one part household bleach to nine 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, facemasks, 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.


Wrestling is an aggressive endeavor and should be coached and executed in that manner. It is expected that wrestlers stay inbounds and compete. There is no passive wrestling. There are no provisions in the rules to allow a wrestler to rest. Backing off the mat out of bounds, pushing or pulling the opponent out of bounds, 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. Regardless of the position – top, bottom or neutral – stalling is not acceptable. The referee shall be firm and consistent in enforcing the letter and spirit of the rule. The referee shall be unwavering in penalizing a stalling infraction without warning or hesitation.

Special Equipment Procedure

Special equipment is identified in Rule 4 as any equipment that is not required by rule. All special equipment should be presented prior to stepping on the mat to begin wrestling. In fact, it is a requirement by rule that the referee will decide on the legality of such equipment. Any equipment that prevents normal movement of the joints and which prevents one's opponent from applying normal holds/maneuvers should not be allowed. It is reasonable for the wrestler to present his/her special equipment during the weigh-in/skin check period.

Preventing Injuries from False Starts in the Neutral Position

A number of injuries are occurring due to false starts in the neutral position. This is a preventable injury. It is imperative that the official use proper mechanics to prevent neutral false starts. When starting the match in the neutral position, the official shall be positioned between the wrestlers to prevent a false start. The official shall sound the whistle when stepping back from between the wrestlers. This mechanic should be a visible reminder to wrestlers about the concert for unnecessary injuries that can be alleviated with attention to false starts.