Weighing In

By Staff

Athletic Management, 15.6, October/November 2003, http://www.momentummedia.com/articles/am/am1506/wuweighingin.htm

In two years, the NFHS hopes to implement mandatory weight management rules for wrestling that will mirror those already being used by the NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA. Designed to eliminate the traditional practice of rapid weight loss by wrestlers, these rules will create a drastic change in the sport, and wrestling coaches may need administrative help in implementing them.

Currently, the “50 percent” rule is used at the high school level. It requires a wrestler to have had at least half of his regular season weigh-ins at the weight he competes in during the state tournament. This discourages wrestlers from rapidly losing weight to drop a class for their state tournament.

However, many in the wrestling community feel more stringent rules should be in place. At the college level, athletes are assigned a minimum wrestling weight before the season, based on body-fat and hydration testing, with a provision allowing for safe weight loss during the early part of the season. These rules ensure that wrestlers maintain healthy weight-management practices throughout the entire season.

According to Jerry Diehl, NFHS Assistant Director and liaison to the NFHS Wrestling Rules Committee, a set of similar rules will also be implemented by the NFHS, and may become mandatory as early as the 2005-06 season. In the interim, state associations are being strongly encouraged to experiment with a minimum wrestling weight standard. This year, new NFHS rules allow state associations with a program similar to the NCAA’s to replace the 50 percent rule with a minimum wrestling weight rule, and according to Diehl, approximately 30 states plan to do so.

While the NFHS Wrestling Rules Committee works on the details and exact start date of the change, Diehl suggests that athletic directors talk about the subject with their wrestling coaches now. The minimum weight program requires more testing of wrestlers, and coaches may need assistance in setting up procedures at their individual schools. They may also need help introducing nutrition programs to athletes.

“Weight management is the largest objection that parents have had in letting their children participate in our sport,” says Mike Moyer, Executive Director of the National Wrestling Coaches Association. “Our goal is to take the focus off weight loss and put it on nutrition. We’re trying to overcome 70 years of culture in our sport, and that’s not going to happen overnight.”

Resources
www.nfhs.org/sports/wrestling_rules_change.htm. www.ncaa.org/library/rules.html#wrestling. www.nwcacalculator.com/certification.
www.nata.org/members1/committees/ssatc/ssatc_wrestling/hydrationtesting.htm.