West Virginia Wrestling

Making The Call ...

by Dr. Bill Welker

Part Four, June - September 1998
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September 14, 1998
Q: What part of the shoulders should the official look for during a near-fall situation? Should an official indicate just how far one shoulder is off the mat?
A: When any part of both scapulae are on the mat for 2 seconds, a fall should be indicated. Also, it is wise to indicate the distance that one shoulder is off the mat so all concerned are aware of what is happening.

Q: Should high school regulation matches (3 two-minute periods) be longer?
A: No! If you don't believe me, wrestle all-out for six minutes with an opponent of equal ability. That will make a believer out of you!

September 3, 1998
Q: What weight classes are the hardest to officiate and what is your opinion on today's uniforms?
A: A tough match depends on the wrestlers, not the weight class. I like today's uniforms because they are less confining.

Q: Can a coach actually stop a match?
A: If the coach wants to throw in the towel to end the match for his wrestler, he can do so. Otherwise, if he stops the match without properly informing the referee, the coach could be penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct or even flagrant misconduct. Good common sense by the official is the best approach for this type of situation.

Q: Should wrestling mats be bigger or smaller and why are some mats harder than others?
A: The circular mats are fine as they are presently. Actually, the hardness of a mat usually has to do with the age of the mat.

Q: Was the full nelson ever legal? What is the general purpose of the assistant referee?
A: To my knowledge, the full nelson has not been legal since maybe the 1930s because with enough pressure you could break a wrestler's neck. The two prime purposes of the assistant official are (1) to aid in the safety of the wrestlers and (2) to help the match official with difficult calls.

August 28, 1998
Q: When should a referee stop the match other than out-of-bounds or end of match?
A: The referee should stop the match for illegal holds, certain technical violation situations, unnecessary roughness & unsportsmanlike conduct,certain potentially dangerous situations, and when he realizes a wrestler is hurt or calls out in pain. Every situation is different.

Q: When should the official call back points?
Wrestling Mat
A: When the pinning situation is over and no fall occurs, the referee should award back points. Back points do not have to be awarded if a fall occurs.

Q: What should one look for to determine out-of-bounds?
Wrestling Mom
A: When a supporting point of both wrestlers touches the out-of-bounds line, they are out of bounds. Point of emphasis: If one wrestler has his opponent picked up off the mat and then steps out-of-bounds, the referee will blow them out-of-bounds.

July 21, 1998
Q: I saw a match in the NCAA Div. I Championships where a wrestler was warned and penalized in the 30-second tiebreaker. I thought stalemates should have been called, not stalling. What's your opinion?
A: Look at the New Stall Procedure Pilot Study for West Virginia on this website. That should give you an idea on how I feel about the above situation.

July 16, 1998
Q: Can a wrestler act as a camp counselor at a wrestling camp run by his coach for youth (not high school) wrestlers?
A: You would have to contact the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission for the answer to this question. Their phone number is (304) 485-5494.

Q: Should riding time be reinstated in high school wrestling?
Pin Fall
A: It is my belief that if the majority of coaches wanted it, then I could live with it.

Q: Are the best officials the ones who can make the tough calls, such as the "quick" falls, even with screaming fans in the stands?
Net Boy
A: The best officials don't even consider the screaming fans when refereeing. And there is no such thing as a "quick" fall rule; a fall is a two second count. Of course, it has happened, but it shouldn't.

Q: What is the easiest call to make for a fall, and the hardest call? Is the Half Nelson pinning combo the easiest and a Cradle pinning combo the hardest?
Mat Maid
A: You answered your own question. Half Nelson pinning combos are much easier than Cradle pinning combos.

July 3, 1998
Q: Should a woman officiate?
Mat Maid
A: If she is competent, yes. And she could officiate both boys and girls wrestling matches.

Q: What is the ruling if a wrestler grabs his opponent's groin area intentionally?
Head Toss
A: He would be disqualified for flagrant misconduct.

Q: Is it difficult to call a pin in a cradle situation?
WV Mats
A: It sure is. You have to wait until everything settles down and both shoulders touch the mat for 2 seconds.

Q: Do referees give the benefit of the doubt to a wrestlers who are winning by a large margins and are suddenly put on their backs?
Match Point
A: The answer is NO! We are to award points when they are earned, and not give anybody the benefit of the doubt--no matter what the score is.

June 23, 1998
Q: What is the ruling on misplaced headgears and hard crossfaces?
- Rug Burn
A: I previously answered the headgear problem in Making the Call. As far as crossfaces are concerned, if the referee feels it was hit too hard, the wrestler would be penalized for unnecessary roughness.

Q: When there is a flurry of points or the referee puts up the wrong hand when awarding points, what are good officiating mechanics?
- Match Point
A: When there is a flurry of points, I wait until the flurry is over and calm has arrived. At this point, I stop the match and slowly award the points scored by each wrestler so there is no scorekeeper confusion. When putting the wrong arm up for points, I immediately correct it with the scorekeeper. But note, the good scorekeeper knows who the points were for and usually takes care of it himself, long before the referee brings it to his attention. A good scorekeeper is an official's best friend during a match.

Q: Have you ever felt compassion for a wrestler was hurt while being pinned?
- Mat Man
A: Whenever a wrestler is hurt during a fall situation, I stop the match. And yes, I feel compassion for injured wrestlers. While competing for 12 years, I had stubbed fingers, bruised ribs, a cauliflower ear, black eye, bandaged arm, sprained ankles and knees, etc. Been there, done that!

June 21, 1998
Q: Have you ever officiated a match where the coach slapped the mat for a fall which you haven't ruled as a fall?
- Points
A: The answer is no. However, if this were to happen, the coach would be penalized for unsportsmanship conduct. And if the wrestlers would stop wrestling due to his action, the match would have to be restarted in the referee's position with the same boy on top. Actually, the coach would have possibly cheated his own wrestler out of a pin that could have later occurred, had he not slapped the mat.

Q: Have mothers or fathers ever verbally abused you after a wrestling match?
- Needles
A: Yes, once when I first started officiating. Since then, I disappear like magic after signing the scorebook.

Q: Should wrestlers wear a cup during a match?
- Fall
A: Wrestlers are not required to wear a cup, and if it is hard and abrasive, they can't.

June 12, 1998
Q: When is a wrestler out of bounds when he is on his back?
Pin Monster
A: If the top part of his shoulders are on or above the mat in bounds, wrestling continues. The same is true with one shoulder and part of the other in bounds, even with the rest of his body out of bounds.

Q: What are your thoughts on the referee's position and false starts?
A: I am an oldtimer, so I believe it should be part of our wrestling. Folkstyle wrestling originated in America, like jazz. It's part of our heritage; let's keep it. I, personally, am tired of always changing for the rest of the world. And in my opinion, folkstyle wrestling involves much more true "control" wrestling than the other styles. As far as false starts go, I personally start the wrestlers quickly to lessen false starts. I am not "picky" in this area.

Q: When you officiated matches with girls, were they competitive? Are there women coaches and officials?
A: I have officiated only a couple girls in wrestling. They are much more competitive at the youth/junior high levels than at the high school level. Finally, there is a woman wrestling coach at Braxton County, WV and there are a few women officials across the country who do a very competent job.

Q: What are your thoughts on the new injury time rule?
A: To begin, I don't think injury time is too long. As for the new ruling: one and a half minutes with two timeouts, I believe the National Federation Rules Committee's sincere reasoning for it was to eliminate all the "fake injury timeouts" that have occurred unethically over the years. On the other hand, we must concern ourselves with safety as well. One coach ask and mentioned to me, "What about the boys who are truly injured? This could cause some to have to stop wrestling (with less time for medical attention), when in the past they were able to continue with 2 minutes. Also, it may force some coaches to send their injured wrestlers out on the mats too soon for fear of disqualification due to injury default." In essence, we'll just have to wait and see how things go next season with this new ruling.

June 10, 1998
Q: Do officials give the benefit of the doubt to higher seeded wrestlers in tournaments?
A: Competent officials never concerns himself with tournament seeding during a match; they award points when they are earned by either wrestler. Furthermore, they do not hesitate to make correct calls even if they are "unpopular" ones. A few years back, I officiated a semi-final match in a Christmas tournament. The first seeded wrestler, who was also the defending state champ, was wrestling an unseeded wrestler. I believe it was the third period, and the first seeded wrestler was clobbering his opponent (at least a ten-point spread), when he applied a guillotine on the unseeded boy. Well, he got careless and leaned his shoulders on the mat. What did I do? After a two second count, I slapped the mat. It was a defensive pin, and the state champ lost. Again, the competent official calls it like it is; past reputations mean nothing to them during a particular match.
Good question, Rugrat!

Q: When is a headlock with the arm illegal and how do you handle wrestlers who demonstrate displeasure over a call?
Arm Bar
A: Generally speaking, a headlock is illegal when the bottom man's arm is not encircled at or above the elbow. In reference to the unruly wrestler who questions my judgment, I personally give them a verbal warning the first time, penalize them for unsportsmanlike conduct the second time, and disqualify them for flagrant misconduct on the third offense. (Enough is enough!) But please keep in mind, if the displeasure is "totally offensive and personally very abusive" on the first offense, he could be disqualified immediately.
Thoughtful queries, Arm Bar!

June 4, 1998
Q: What do you think about wrestlers who indicate that they are injured or scream out in pain when they are getting pinned? And, how long must a wrestler be in the near-fall criteria situation before his opponent earns back points?
A: When a wrestler indicates he is injured at anytime, the referee has no other option but to stop the match. If not, he could end up facing a legal suit. I may think a wrestler is faking, and definitely not like it, but I have no choice but to stop the match. Near-fall points are initially earned (2 match points) when the near-fall criteria has been met for two seconds (or two arm sweeps).
Good questions, Spladdle.

Q: Should an official be expressive (or showy) when he slaps the mat for a fall? Also, should he blow his whistle first before slapping the mat for a fall?
A: Since the fall is the objective in wrestling, I see nothing wrong with a hard slapping of the mat. It emphasizes to the fans that one of the wrestlers has achieved the ultimate goal of wrestling. As a wrestler, myself, I was already embarrassed about getting pinned, and didn't even think how the ref called it. Some officials blow the whistle when the fall occurs as they are in the process of slapping the mat. They consider it a quicker indication as to when they felt the fall took place. Good thinking, Matrat.

Q: What do you think about wearing singlets without tights, which were often worn years ago? And what about uniforms worn by women/girls?
A: It really doesn't matter to me. I wore tights way back when. Maybe just wearing the singlet is less confining. I never wore a headgear because I felt closed in; we didn't have to back then. Of course, now I have to live with a cauliflower ear. As for girls' uniforms, I have officiated a couple high schools matches with girls competing and didn't see any problem with their uniforms. They also have special athletic undergarments they wear that are very suitable. Interesting queries, Grapple.

June 1, 1998
Q: I have the following questions regarding girls in wrestling:
1. Should girls wrestle?
2. Is the sport growing for the female gender?
3. Should women become officials and coaches?
4. Can a female handle herself out on the mat?
5. How do you feel about girls wrestling boys?
A: Headgear, below are my opinions in reference to your stimulating questions:
1. Whether one likes it or not, girls have the right to wrestle on boys teams, especially if there are no wrestling programs offered to them.
2. From all that I have read over the last couple of years, more and more girls are competing in wrestling.
3. If they know the rules, moves, and subtleties of wrestling (my wife, for example), know how to motivate, and can gain wrestler-respect, I don't see why they couldn't officiate and coach.
4. When competing against boys, they seem to be most competitive at the lower weight classes. I believe that it is due to the fact that many of the girls at those weights are older than the boys. As far as the other weight classes are concerned, the boys are just too strong or physically overpowering. (Let me emphasize that this is only my opinion based on experience.)
5. I would much rather see girls wrestling girls. To a boy competing against a girl, it is a "no-win" situation: total embarrassment if he loses, and "Big deal, you beat a girl" comments if he wins. Personally, I am opposed to girls wrestling boys. That is why I applaud those states that have initiated girls wrestling program, due to the growing interest of their gender.

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Updated October 23, 1998