West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on the "Top Five" Excuses in Wrestling

Let's now take a look at the "Top 5" excuses made in wrestling. I'm sure you will be able to relate to all of them.


I am sure every one of you has had a bad practice or match when the coach came down on you quicker than bears on honey. Well, that's part of the program...and it brings to my mind the day my older brother, Floyd, came home after an extremely agonizing practice.

It was Floyd's junior year in high school, when he came shuffling into the house with his head hanging down, complaining to Mom and Dad about how rough practice was and how badly the coach treated him. As the younger brother, I just sat there and listened.

Mother completely ignored him, while Dad's only remark was, "If you can't take it, Floyd, then quit!"

My brother immediately realized that he would find no pity at home...and so did I. Needless to say, Floyd stuck it out and I think it was a very wise decision. Two months later, Floyd was crowned the 1959 120-Pound PA State Champion at Penn State's Rec Hall. So, just remember when your coach stops yelling at you for messing up at practice or during competition...then it's time to start worrying about not being liked by the coach.


You know, I can remember getting pinned once, or was it...Well, let's just say I've been pinned. Anyway, I finally figured out how to eliminate the problem of pins...including "quick" pins. So, listen very, very carefully.

All you have to do is "STAND UP!" Yes, that's it...stand up. Now a lot of people don't realize this, but rarely will an official call a pin when you are standing up. If he does, the man is in for a very long night, that's if he survives the call. But seriously, wrestlers, anytime you put your shoulders, or allow your opponent to put your shoulders on or near the mat...you are asking for trouble--quick pin or not. So, the key is, "STAY OFF YOUR BACK!" If you don't, blame nobody but yourself.


After 35 years as a wrestling official, don't tell me nobody likes you. Why, I have been called everything from blind to the male off-spring of Lassie. Don't you just love it when others show so much concern for your family background!

To further emphasize my point, here are a few other delightful experiences I've had as a referee. Once after a dual meet, a devoted fan from the losing team frankly informed me that I was the worst official he had ever seen. In response, I graciously told him, "Sir, I promise I will keep on trying until I get it right." He walked away...speechless.

I have been writing this column, Mat Talk, for decades. And although I enjoy the experience very much, this exposure, at times, has often been more of a curse than a blessing. Just listen to some of the lovely remarks I have to put up with during a match.


Notice that the term "Ref" has been substituted by my last name. It's not "Hey, Ref, you stink," but "Hey, Welker, you stink." A much more personalized touch.

Or how about this one: "Go back to writing Mat Talk, Welker!" And the one I really like best--"Yoh, Welker! You oughta read your column every once and a while to learn the rules."

So, the next time you think nobody likes you, just remember the Rodney Dangerfield of sports--the official--and you'll realize that you're certainly not alone.


Isn't it amazing, but when in doubt, who better to blame than the official. And in recent years, I've also noticed this same attitude in many "father-coaches." Well, such was not the case in the Welker Household. Believe me, sometimes I wished it was, but Dad and Mom had different views regarding the matter of personal responsibility.

Now, my father watched his two sons compete in over 200 matches during their high school and college wrestling careers--and to be quite honest, Floyd and I had our share of losses. And, many of those losses were determined by very questionable "calls" that didn't go our way. Furthermore, Dad knew they were bad calls. BUT, not once did my father ever accuse any referee of cheating. Nor, did he ever question the judgment of our coaches. Instead, Dad placed the ultimate blame on us. As a matter of fact, whenever Floyd or I lost a match, Dad usually made one of the following comments:

"You better train harder next time."
"You weren't mentally prepared."
"You let him get the first takedown."
"You didn't explode off the bottom."
"You weren't wrestling aggressively."
"You shouldn't have been on your back."
And the comment that hurt the most: "You quit out there!"
Hopefully, you will also take my dad's advice before you consider using the "ref" as your alibi for losing.


One of my closest friends on our high school wrestling team was Jan Price. It wasn't until later in my life that I realized he might have been more of a champion than I was. In his four years as a high school wrestler, Jan never missed a practice, never placed in a tournament, rarely won a match, and never made the varsity squad. But most importantly, Jan Price never quit...because he loved the sport of wrestling!

Jan's athletic determination has inspired me throughout my entire life. I will never forget his dedication to the sport of wrestling.

Now, I hope that you have learned that there are no excuses in athletics or life. True champions never make alibis for losing. On the contrary: "They seek GUIDANCE from their coaches -- KNOWLEDGE from their teachers -- ADVICE from their parents - and INSPIRATION from GOD."

Hopefully, you will do the same!

"Always remember, whenever you point the finger of blame elsewhere...three fingers are pointing right back at you!"
- Anonymous

Editor's Note: A former Pennsylvania State Champion, Dr. Welker is a nationally recognized authority on amateur wrestling who has published hundreds of articles and two best-selling books (The Wrestling Drill Book, 1st & 2nd Editions) on the subject in which 1000s of copies have been sold nationwide. His drill book can be purchased at www.Amazon.com or www.HumanKinetics.com.

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