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
2016-17 high school wrestling season, attention is being called to:
communicable skin conditions and skin checks, control, arm trap
and sportsmanship. When a topic is included in the Points of Emphasis,
are important enough to reinforce throughout the academic year because they are not being given the proper
COMMUNICABLE SKIN CONDITIONS AND SKIN CHECKS
skin conditions continue to be a major concern in wrestling, in part
because of recent MRSA and Herpes Gladitorium outbreaks. If a
participant has a suspected skin condition, NFHS Wrestling Rules require
current, written documentation from an appropriate health-care
professional stating the athlete’s participation would not be harmful to
an opponent. Cold sores are considered a skin lesion and are subject to
the communicable skin condition rules.
The NFHS has developed a form that can be used for that
documentation, and several state associations have adopted similar forms
for use in their states.
Regardless of the form used, it is
imperative that ALL coaches perform routine skin checks of their
wrestlers and require any wrestlers with a suspect condition to seek
medical attention and treatment.
It is also imperative that ALL
referees perform skin checks – or verify that skin checks have been done
by a designated, on-site meet, appropriate health-care professional –
as part of their pre-meet duties prior to EVERY dual meet and
tournament. If there is a suspect condition, the wrestler or coach MUST
present the proper clearance form at the weigh-in for any dual meet or
tournament in order for the wrestler to be allowed to compete.
The only exception to the requirement of the proper
would be if a designated, on-site meet, appropriate health-care
professional is present and is able to examine the wrestler either
immediately prior to or immediately after the weigh-in. The designated,
on-site meet, appropriate health-care professional has the authority to
overrule the diagnosis of the appropriate health-care professional who
signed the proper clearance form presented to the referee at the
One of the keys to preventing the spread of communicable skin
conditions is for coaches and referees to fulfill their responsibilities
professionally. It is, however, only one of the keys.
The other and equally important key is proper prevention.
prevention can be complicated, in most cases it only requires that a few
basic steps be taken by ALL involved in the sport.
- Educate coaches, athletes and parents about communicable skin conditions and how they are spread.
- Clean wrestling mats daily with a solution of 1:100 bleach and water or an appropriate commercial cleaner.
- Maintain proper ventilation in the wrestling room to prevent the build-up of heat and humidity.
- Clean all workout gear after each practice including towels, clothing, headgear, shoes, knee pads, etc.
- Require each wrestler to shower or use a body-wipe after each
practice and competition. Do not share bars of soap. Use individual soap
- Perform daily skin checks to ensure early recognition of potential communicable skin conditions.
- Refrain from sharing razors or other personal hygiene supplies.
Covering an active infection does not meet the requirements of the
NFHS wrestling communicable skin condition rule for competitions. An
active infection shall not be covered in practice either.
It is a coach’s professional responsibility to
ensure that skin
clearance forms presented by his or her wrestlers are legitimate and
reflect the athletes’ true conditions.Coaches and referees all play a
vital role in controlling communicable skin diseases. They must err on
the side of what is best for the health of all involved in the sport
when dealing with communicable skin diseases.
Referees are the last line of defense in keeping wrestlers with
communicable skin diseases off the mat. The safety of all who step on a
competition mat is at stake. Coaches must realize that referees would
not be placed in a position to make difficult participation decisions if
coaches would perform skin checks on all of their wrestlers each day.
NFHS Wrestling Rule 3-1-4a states that “Before
a dual meet begins,
the referee shall perform skin checks or verify that skin checks have
been performed by a designated, on-site meet, appropriate health-care
NFHS Wrestling Rule 3-1-5a states that “Before an individual,
combination or team advancement tournament begins each day, the referee
shall perform skin checks or verify that skin checks have been performed
by a designated, on-site meet, appropriate health-care professional.”
The skin checks should take place by referees or a designated, on-site
meet, appropriate health-care professional at weigh-ins whenever
In reference to multiple-day competitions, communicable disease “skin
checks” shall take place at weigh-ins each day. Checking skin on the
first day only is not an acceptable practice regarding the communicable
disease detection procedure.
NFHS Wrestling Rules 4-2-2, 3, 4, 5 are very specific concerning a
contestant who is suspected of having a communicable skin disease. It is
the responsibility of the contestant, parents, coach and referee to
identify a possible communicable skin disease and then have an
appropriate health-care professional evaluate the condition if possible.
Similarly, it is everybody’s responsibility (coaches,
referees, appropriate health-care professionals and tournament
administrators) to ensure that all wrestlers are competing in an
For more detailed information, refer to the “Skin Conditions and
Infections” chapter in the NFHS Sports Medicine Handbook. Also, please
refer to the following two NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee
(SMAC) documents: “General Guidelines for Sports Hygiene, Skin
Infections and Communicable Diseases” and “Sports Related Skin
Infections Position Statement and Guidelines.” Both of these NFHS SMAC
documents can be found on the Sports Medicine page.
Control is the very essence of the sport
of wrestling. Simply stated, control occurs when an individual wrestler
has gained control of his opponent in such a way that he or she has
restraining power over them. A wrestler who has control over an opponent
is in a position of advantage. Control has three phases –
gaining, losing and changing. All three phases allow each wrestler an
opportunity to score points. Wrestling is an extremely quick and
fast-moving sport where control is gained, lost or changed in a matter
of seconds. It is important that contest officials frequently hone their
skills to be able to identify the various phases of control. Wrestling
boasts specialists in various aspects of the sport. As one example,
“takedown specialists” are known to accumulate points for taking
their opponent to the mat frequently, not being able to get a fall or
near fall but will use a strategy to outscore their opponent by means of
repeated takedowns. The more familiar an official is with the various
moves and maneuvers, the more valuable they will be to the young people
they serve in this wonderful sport.
The rear-standing position with a
trapped arm should be considered potentially dangerous and should be
monitored very closely by the referee. Coaches, officials and
competitors should be aware of the potential for injury in this
situation if the defensive wrestler is returned to the mat and has no
arm available to break his/her fall. Although a number of safe scoring
opportunities may come from this
hold, coaches, officials and
competitors should must work together to educate and ensure that
wrestlers are returned to the mat safely. Officials should pay
special attention to the wrestler who is lifted off the mat with a
trapped arm. In all situations, returning a wrestler to the mat in a
controlled fashion should be one of the highest priorities.
SPORTSMANSHIP/GOOD SPORTING BEHAVIOR
surveyed, young people have indicated that their primary purpose
for participating is to “have fun.” Winning is further down the list of
expected outcomes. The beneficial effect of activity/athletic
participation is annually researched as a good and healthy experience
and is a precursor for future success in life. We all have a vested
interest and role in preserving the positive benefits that young people
experience when playing high school sports.
Officials and coaches need to work together. Each match is another
opportunity for coaches and officials to teach not only wrestling, but
also model good sporting behavior as well. The positive values that are
learned will serve the wrestlers long after their wrestling experience
has concluded. Match1 situations typically provide a coach the
opportunity to identify a teachable moment to reinforce good sporting