West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker, National Wrestling Hall of Famer
and Rick Welker

…on Youth Coaches Learning the Rules

By Dr. Bill Welker

To develop a successful high school wrestling program, the coach must include everyone at all levels of the mat sport. In other words, he must start with the youth coaches as well as the middle school coaches.

Of course, first and foremost, the high school head coach must develop a basic plan of practice organization and moves he wants to be taught at each level. That way everyone is on the same page.

More importantly, the scholastic coach will not have to break his wrestlers of bad habits overlooked in the lower levels. Instead, with this holistic approach, the high school coach can spent his time refining moves already taught.

There is another important area where the high school head coach must take the lead. It is an important phase of the sport often overlooked, especially at the youth level. That is, the rules of the mat sport. Far too often, the youth coaches are unaware of many rules - and end up taking it out on the match officials. Needless to say, they later find themselves eating crow.

Let's digress a bit.

In reference to middle and high school coaches, they are required to attend wrestling rules clinics prior to the beginning of the season. During these sessions, the mat mentors (and local officials) are introduced to rule changes, review of significance old rules, and the responsibilities of the coaches and officials regarding wrestling injuries and common communicable diseases.

Unfortunately, youth coaches do not attend such meetings since they are not under the jurisdiction of such athletic associations such as the WVSSAC, OHSAA, and the PIAA. However, this problem can easily be remedied. Listen carefully.

Every local wrestling officials association chooses one experienced referee to assume the duties of "rules interpreter." These are individuals who would gladly share their rules expertise with any interested party.

So, all the high school wrestling coach has to do is invite the local rules interpreter to conduct a rules clinic for the youth coaches in the area. In doing so, youth coaches would have a much better understanding of the rules. Thus, during the heat of competition, the youth coaches will not make a fool of themselves arguing a "rule" point in which they are totally wrong.

In essence, teaching sound wrestling maneuvers and knowing the rules of the mat sport should be the goal of every scholastic mentor regarding the youth coaches in his organization.

The Near Fall

Only the top or offensive wrestler can score near-fall points. He can do so by forcing his opponent (the defensive wrestler) into any of the following positions:

1) The defensive wrestler is in a high bridge situation.
2) The defensive wrestler is leaning back on his elbows with his shoulders facing the mat.
3) The defensive wrestler is exposing both his shoulders to the mat within four inches or less contact with the mat surface.
4) The defensive wrestler has one shoulder in contact with the mat and the other shoulder at a 45-degree position from the mat or less.

The offensive wrestler can score two match points by holding the defensive wrestler in any of the previously discussed positions for two seconds.

If the offensive wrestler is able to control the defensive wrestler in any of the previous positions for five continuous seconds, he would be awarded three match points.

The official usually indicates the presence of such near-fall situations by making an angular sweep of his arm, with each sweep indicating one second of back exposure. The referee will not signal any match points until the near-fall situation is terminated.

Also note, a near-fall can still be awarded if both shoulders of the defensive wrestler remain partially in-bounds or just one shoulder is completely in-bounds.

The half-nelson, arm-bar series, cradle, and three-quarter nelson are common pinning situations that can score near-fall points as well as the pin or fall, concluding the match - which is next week's rules discussion.

Mini-Mat Quiz

Q: Utilizing a half nelson, Wrestler A forces Wrestler B to a high bridge on his head for four seconds before Wrestler B was able to turn over on his stomach. Then Wrestler A quickly caught Wrestler B in a cradle and placed him placed him in another near-fall situation for over five seconds before the end of the period buzzer sounded. How many near-fall points would Wrestler A receive?
A: Five match points. He would receive two match points for the half nelson, which was held for less than five seconds. Then Wrestler A earned three match points for holding the cradle near-fall for five seconds before the period ran out.

Mat Message

"Children have more need of models than of critics."
-- Carolyn Coats

Return to the West Virginia Mat Thoughts Index Page
Return to the WV-Mat front page