Category Archives: NFHS

Rule Changes for the 2019-2020 Season

Rumor has it Head Coverings are a Thing of the Past… not so Fast

The NFHS, the organization that oversees the wrestling rules CIF uses, has released its rule changes for the upcoming 2019-2020 season. Below you will find the changes. Removed language will be crossed out. Added language will be in red.

4-1-1a

The rule that deals with what a legal uniform consists of will now read:

A one-piece singlet cut no lower in the back or front than the level of the armpits and under the arms no lower than one-half the distance between the armpit and belt line. A suitable undergarment, which completely covers the buttocks and groin area, shall be worn under a one-piece singlet. Any other undergarment worn under the one-piece singlet which extends beyond the inseam shall be tight-fitting and shall not extend below the knee. The one-piece singlet may be worn with full-length tights with stirrups. Any other undergarment worn under the one-piece singlet which extends beyond the inseam shall be tight-fitting and shall not extend below the knee. The one-piece singlet shall be school-issued.

NOTE: Female contestants wearing a one-piece singlet shall wear a form-fitted compression suitable undergarment that completely covers their breasts.

Reason: Currently, there is no specific requirement for what a wrestler wears under a singlet. Light colored or white singlets become transparent if an undergarment is not worn underneath. This creates a modesty concern that athletes are revealing more than is appropriate.

4-4-1b

A legal uniform consists of:

b. Compression shorts or shorts designed for wrestling shall…snaps, buttons or pockets. A suitable undergarment, which completely covers the buttocks and groin area must shall be worn under shorts designed for wrestling and compression shorts. Shorts designed for wrestling may be worn over the singlet. Compression shorts or shorts designed for wrestling may be worn with a form-fitted compression shirt. Compression shorts or shorts designed for wrestling shall be school-issued.

Reason: suitable undergarments are required to be worn under shorts designed for wrestling and compression shorts. The previous version of the rule did not require such undergarments.

4-1-1c

The next change adds language to the following rule:

NOTE: Female contestants wearing a one-piece singlet shall wear a suitable undergarment that covers their breasts and minimizes the risk of exposure. All contestants wearing a one-piece singlet shall wear a suitable undergarment which completely covers the buttocks and groin area.

Reason: By adding additional language to minimize the risk of exposure, it will raise the expectation that the suitable undergarment should provide coverage and support during competition.

4-1-3

Rule 4-1-3 has had changes to the language as well as a penalty added for violating the rule:

Wrestlers shall wear light heelless wrestling shoes, reaching above the ankles. If the shoes have laces, the laces shall either be taped to
the shoe or secured by a locking device on the wrestling shoe in an
acceptable fashion
. If laces are visible, they shall be secured in an acceptable fashion. If the shoe laces come undone the penalty would be an automatic stalling call.

(NOTE: acceptable secure fashion could be double knotting of the laces)

Reason: This rule holds the coach and wrestler accountable to verification that they have come to the mat properly equipped. This also allows the usage of double knotting of the laces as another way to secure the shoes.

4-1-4

The change deals with branding on ear guards. The rule now reads:

Wrestlers shall wear wrestling ear guards designed by the manufacturer for the sport of wrestling that are rigid and padded, which provide:

a. adequate ear protection;
b. no injury hazard to the opponent; and,
c. an adjustable locking device to prevent it from coming off or turning
on the wrestler’s head.

Any manufacturer’s logo/trademark/reference that appears on the wrestling ear guards including legal hair covering can be no more than 2 1/4 square inches with no dimension more than 2 1/4 inches and may appear no more than once on ear guards. No additional manufacturer’s logo/trademark or promotional reference shall be allowed on the wrestling ear guard.

Reason: The intent of NFHS Rule 4 is to maintain the sanctity of the wrestler’s uniform and ear guards by not allowing impractical images that detract from school-issued equipment and uniforms.

4-2-1

The rule deals with hair and will now read:

During competition all wrestlers shall be clean shaven, with sideburns trimmed no lower than earlobe level. Hair trimmed and well groomed The hair in its natural state, shall not extend below the top of an ordinary shirt collar in the back; and on the sides, the hair shall not extend below earlobe level; in the front, the hair shall not extend below the eyebrows. (Photos 2-3) A neatly trimmed mustache that does not extend below the line of the lower lip shall be permissible. If an individual has hair longer than allowed by rule, it may be braided, or rolled if it is it shall be contained in a cover so that the hair rule is satisfied. (Photo 4) Physical hair treatment items that are hard and /or abrasive such as (beads, bobby pins, barrettes, pins, hair clips, etc. or any other hair control device) shall not be permitted. A legal hair- controlled device such as rubber band(s) shall be secured so as not to come out readily during wrestling. The legal cover shall be attached to the ear guards…at the site. If an individual has facial hair, it must shall be covered with a face mask. All legal hair covers and face masks will be considered as special equipment. If an individual’s hair is as abrasive as an unshaved face, the individual shall be required to shave the head as smooth as a face is required, or wear a legal hair cover.

Reason: The terms trimmed and well-groomed, as well as the description the hair in its natural state, have been removed as the term well-groomed is extremely subjective and there is no standard to meet such an arbitrary expectation.

There has also been in addition to the rule, dealing with hair treatment: Physical hair treatment items that are hard and /or abrasive such as (beads, bobby pins, barrettes, pins, hair clips, etc. or any other hair control device) shall not be permitted. A legal hair- controlled device such as rubber band(s) shall be secured so as not to come out readily during wrestling.

There has been speculation, that this rule change does away with head coverings. This is not true as the requirement for hair covers is still present in the rule

4-3-5

The rule now bans leg and arm sleeves:

Wrestlers may shall not wear wristbands, sweatbands, bicep bands or leg or arm sleeves that do not contain a pad during a match.

Reason: There is no purpose or function for use of a leg or arm sleeve that does not contain a pad for protection. There is no peer review data or research to support their existence. They are intrusive and do not properly fit all wrestlers.

4-5-7

The rule now requires female wrestlers to wear a suitable form fitted compression undergarment that completely covers their breasts during weigh-ins.

All contestants shall weigh-in wearing a suitable undergarment that completely covers the buttocks and the groin area. Female contestants must shall also wear a suitable form fitted compression suitable undergarment that completely covers their breasts. Contestants may wear low cut socks that cannot be removed or added if the wrestlers do not make weight.

Reason: the NFHS believes females wrestlers should use a foundation garment that provides appropriate coverage and support.

5-25-2

A takedown shall be awarded when one or both knees of the defensive wrestler are touching the mat beyond reaction time or when the defensive wrestler’s legs or torso are controlled and the majority of the wrestler’s weight is supported by his hands. (photo 31) wrestler’s hand(s) touch the mat beyond reaction time.

Reason: the change eliminates a double standard that was created when the definition of a takedown was revised last year (majority of the wrestler’s weight is supported by his hands.) By removal of the “majority of the wrestler’s weight” criteria, the need for the official to make a judgmental call on weight bearing extremities is eliminated.

5-27-1a

There are five types of technical violations. Each is penalized without warning as outlined in Rule 7-3.

a. Intentionally going out of the wrestling area or forcing an opponent out of the wrestling area to avoid an imminent scoring situation.

Reason: The addition builds upon last year’s rule change, where pushing and pulling your opponent out of bounds in the neutral position is stalling. This year’s rule change will clarify that intentionally going off the mat or forcing your opponent off the mat to avoid wrestling would be stalling.)

7-3-1

Going out of the wrestling area or forcing an opponent out of the wrestling area, by either wrestler at any time as a means of avoiding wrestling an imminent scoring situation, is a technical violation fleeing the mat. Both wrestlers should make every effort to remain inbounds. When the referee feels that either wrestler has failed to make every effort to stay inbounds during an imminent scoring situation, the offending wrestler shall be penalized for fleeing the mat. There can be no technical violation of fleeing the mat if near-fall points have been earned.

Reason: With the language change if a wrestler leaves the wrestling area or forces the opponent off the wrestling area to avoid an imminent scoring situation the referee’s call must be fleeing and the offending wrestler will be penalized a point. Going out of bounds or pushing an opponent out of bounds when not in an imminent scoring situation would be stalling and only warrant a warning for the first violation and a point for the second violation.

7-6-6d

It is stalling when either wrestler:

Sub-articles a-c remain the same.

d. Shoelaces become undone

Reason: It is now considered stalling if a wrestler’s shoelaces become undone.

8-1-3

Penalties and Warnings are cumulative throughout the match. Each infraction has its specific penalty. The penalty for an illegal hold/maneuver, technical violation (except false start or incorrect starting position), unnecessary roughness and wrestler’s unsportsmanlike conduct in the match is awarding the opponent of the offender one match point on the first and second offenses and two match points on the third offense. A fourth offense shall result in disqualification. The first call for stalling will receive a warning prior to the opponent of the offender being awarded a match point. The first two calls for a false start or incorrect starting position will be receive cautions. Following the two cautions, one match point will be awarded to the opponent of the offender for each subsequent violation. (See Penalty Chart)

Reason: the change removes stalling from the progressive penalty sequence. Which will allow referees to call stalling more frequently without the complications that come with it, when combined with other penalties where four offenses will end in the wrestler’s disqualification.

8-1-4

Warnings and Penalties for stalling are cumulative throughout the match and are penalized independent of the progressive penalty chart. On the first offense the wrestler will receive a warning. The opponent of the offender will be awarded one match point on the second and third offense, two match points and choice of position on the next restart for the fourth offense. A fifth offense shall result in disqualification. (See Penalty Chart)

Reason: the new rule goes more into detail as to how stalling is penalized as its own independent violation: Warnings and Penalties for stalling are cumulative throughout the match and are penalized independent of the progressive penalty chart.

8-2-4a, b1,2,3

a. Any contestant who exhibit signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion (such as loss of consciousness, headache, dizziness, confusion or balance problems) shall be immediately removed from the match and shall not return to competition until cleared by an appropriate health-care professional. (See NFHS Suggested Guidelines for Management of Concussion in Sports, in Appendix B.)

b. The following modifications to injury time-outs will be used in all competition regarding injuries to the head and neck involving cervical column and/or nervous system:

(1) In the absence of appropriate health-care professional, (physician and/or certified athletic trainer) all injuries to the head and neck involving the cervical column and/or nervous system will be covered by the same time frame as other injuries. (See 5-28-6, 8-2-1)

(2) When appropriate health-care professional(s) are present, they have jurisdiction to extend the allowed time limit to a maximum of five (5) minutes for evaluation of the injuries to the head and neck involving cervical column and/or nervous systems only, at which time the athlete would be required to prepare without delay for continuation or default the match.

(3) A second occurrence of injury to the head and neck involving cervical column and/or central nervous system in the same match shall require the wrestler to default the match.

NOTE: When this provision is used, the time consumed for the injury will in no way affect time used, or available, for other types of injuries.

Reasons: changes address new procedures when dealing with potential concussions:

9-2-2f

In dual-meet competition, if teams have identical scores, the following team tie-breaking system shall be used to determine the winner.

Criteria a-e remain the same.

f. The team giving up the least number of forfeits.

Criteria shall be re-labeled through q.

Reason: a sixth criteria has been added for deciding the winner of dual meets when both teams have identical scores.

Official Signal

28 Tapping the front of the head with a balled-up fist of either hand to indicate that the five (5) minute Head/Neck/Cervical Column Evaluation time is to begin.

Reason: a new signal has been introduced for officials to indicate that the head/neck/cervical column evaluation time has begun.

So what do you think about the rule changes for the upcoming season? If you would like a copy of the rule changes click here.

Girls Wrestling Has Grown Nationwide for 28 Consecutive Years, According to NFHS

Nationwide Participation

The NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations) has released the results of its annual sports participation survey. And, once again, girls wrestling has had great growth in its participation numbers over the previous academic year. With 16,562 participating wrestlers this year, girls wrestling had a 13.5% increase as compared to last season’s 14,587. Girls wrestling moved ahead of girls dance (14,875 participants) moving up to the 18th spot in participation for girls. There is a good chance that wrestling could jump ahead of gymnastics this upcoming season; especially with Colorado (as a pilot program), Massachusetts and Oregon joining Alaska, California, Hawaii, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington in sponsoring girls wrestling state championships.

Something that needs to be noted about the results; the survey is voluntarily submitted by each state. Each state, in turn, gets their numbers from individual schools reporting their numbers, also voluntarily. As a result, there is a high probability of underreporting. It is, therefore, very important that every school, with at least one wrester-girl, do their part to ensure the NFHS gets the most accurate information possible. That way, they can allocate the proper amount of personnel and resources when making decisions affecting the sport.

I have included a summary of the national participation numbers as of 1979 below.

Some interesting facts:

  • Girls Wrestling has grown nationwide for 28 consecutive years (since the 1990-91 season).
  • In the last ten years, girls high school has had a 174.88% growth in the number of participants.
  • The NFHS began to give girls wrestling its own data column after the 2003-04 season and has continued to do so ever since. Prior to that, girls wrestling was grouped with low-participation sports.
  • Prior to the 1979-80 season, girls participation in any sport was either not tracked or was included in the boys numbers.

On a side note, I want to thank the 48 women who, in 1979, and the 8, who in 1982, set foot on the mats to compete. I would like to believe that their pioneering spirit planted a seed in some coaches’ minds that made them see the potential in girls wrestling. I wish I knew what happened to them as the following year reported participation fell to 0 in both groups.

High School Girls Wrestling Nationwide Participation Numbers
Academic Year # of Schools # of Participants Participation Rank (Girls Only)/
Total number of Sports
% Up/Down (Participants)
vs. previous year
2017-18 2,351 16,562 18/82 13.5% Up
2016-17 2,091 14,587 19/80 8.1% Up
2015-16 1,941 13,496 19/78 17.4% Up
2014-15 1,806 11,496 20/62 16% Up
2013-14 1,516 9,904 20/60 13.5% Up
2012-13 1,602 8,727 22/65 5.9% Up
2011-12 1,441 8,235 23/50 12% Up
2010-11 1,215 7,351 23/50 19.8% Up
2009-10 1,009 6,134 25/50 1.8% Up
2008-09 1,034 6,025 23/50 9% Up
2007-08 1,287 5,527 22/47 9.5% Up
2006-07 1,227 5,048 23/48 1.5% Up
2005-06 1,081 4,975 22/47 14.8% Up
2004-05 941 4,334 22/49 8.1% Up
2003-04 808 4,008 24/53 6.3% Up
2002-03 805 3,769 25/52 10.7% Up
2001-02 798 3,405 24/48 12.3% Up
2000-01 896 3,032 26/53 22.6% up
1999-2000 734 2,474 24/43 4.8% Up
1998-99 661 2,361 25/43 23.8% Up
1997-98 619 1,907 24/44 17.1% Up
1996-97 217 1,629 24/44 39.9% Up
1995-96 225 1,164 24/44 44.8% Up
1994-95 249 804 23/43 2.7% Up
1993-94 220 783 25/43 93.8% Up
1992-93 50 404 25/38 84.5% Up
1991-92 50 219 27/38 65.9% Up
1990-91 21 132 29/38 17.9% Up
1989-90 101 112 31/38 45.1% Down
1988-89 25 204 27/38 64.5% Up
1987-88 Undetermined 124 29/37 588.9% Up
1986-87 16 18 31/37 1,700% Up
1985-86 1 1 30/37 83% Down
1984-85 3 6 33/37
1983-84 0 0 100% Down
1982-83 Undetermined 8 31/37
1981-82 0 0
1980-81 0 0 100% Down
1979-80 3 48 32/41

Statewide Participation

I have also included numbers for California below. Figuring out the growth of the sport in California is a bit more difficult as it seems CIF tended to report updated data only every two years (between 1987 and 1991 it used the same numbers every year). Fortunately, that changed with the 2010-11 season. CIF has been reporting updated numbers every year since then.

Some interesting facts:

  • In the last ten years, girls high school has had a 254.05% growth in the number of participants.
  • California has accounted for over 20% of high school wrestler-girls in the United States each year since the 1998-99 season (and in all likelihood since the 1993-94 season, if we assume the missing data gives us similar numbers).
High School Girls Wrestling California Participation Numbers
Academic Year # of Schools # of Participants % Up/Down (Participants)
vs. previous year
% CA Contributed
to The National Total
2017-18 740 5,286 17.3% Up 31.9%
2016-17 654 4,505 9.7% Up 30.8%
2015-16 645 4,104 49.4% Up 30.4%
2014-15 523 2,747 20.2% Up 23.9%
2013-14 493 2,286 8.9% Up 23.1%
2012-13 472 2,099 4.5% Up 24.1%
2011-12 474 2,008 5.1% Up 24.4%
2010-11 408 1,910 27.9% Up 26%
2009-10 227 1,493 24.3%
2008-09 227 1,493 30.7% Up 24.8%
2007-08 366 1,142 20.7%
2006-07 366 1,142 7.2% Down 22.6%
2005-06 322 1,230 24.7%
2004-05 322 1,230 28.5% up 28.4%
2003-04 269 957 23.9%
2002-03 269 957 27.3% Up 25.4%
2001-02 281 752 22.1%
2000-01 281 752 46.3% Up 24.8%
1999-2000 212 514 0.4% Up 20.8%
1998-99 210 494 Can’t Determine 25.9%
1997-98 Not Found Not Found Can’t Determine Can’t Determine
1996-97 Not Found Not Found Can’t Determine Can’t Determine
1995-96 Undetermined 541 140.4% Up 46.5%
1994-95 112 225 28%
1993-94 112 225 316.7% Up 28.7%
1992-93 Undetermined 54 13.4%
1991-92 Undetermined 54 63.6% Up 24.7%
1990-91 Undetermined 33 25%
1989-90 Undetermined 33 29.5%
1988-89 Undetermined 33 16.2%
1987-88 Undetermined 33 230% Up 26.6%
1986-87 9 10 56%
1985-86 0 0 100% Down 0%
1984-85 1 1 17%
1983-84 0 0 100% Down
1982-83 Undetermined 6 75%
1981-82 0 0
1980-81 0 0
1979-80 0 0 0%
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