West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on Making Excuses, Part IV

In Part IV of "Making Excuses," we will consider the blaming-the-official angle that wrestlers sometimes use for their loses on the mats.


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 were, 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!"

Well, time passes, and my wife Peggy and I had wrestlers of our own. And of course, I have always tried to teach my sons what I learned from Mom and Dad. Let me share with you an experience I had with my oldest son, Billy. It happened when he was a sixth-grade, smallfry wrestler. Believe it or not, it was the first time I had an opportunity to coach Billy in a wrestling tournament. His semi-final match went into the old three-period overtime, with its complicated criteria system. During the first period of overtime, Billy's opponent scored a takedown. Then he allowed his opponent to ride him the entire second period. In the third period, Billy was on top, and finally decided he wanted to wrestle. Billy tilted his opponent to his back, using a double armbar. As the referee was in the process of making the second arm sweep for a two-point, near-fall, the buzzer sounded. Now you must understand...if Billy gets the nearfall points, he wins by overtime criteria. If not, he loses. Well, after talking to the timekeeper, the referee determined that time ran out; so Billy lost the match.

As he came off the mat, Billy started complaining that the "ref" cheated him out of back-points. In response, I gently grabbed him by the arm and swiftly helped Billy into the locker room. When we got there, I informed Billy he had nobody to blame but himself. Furthermore, I told him that he should have taken control of the match by getting the takedown in the first period of overtime, or at the very least, he should have scored a reversal in the 2nd period. In truth, if Billy would have wrestled, he would have decided the match, not the referee or the timekeeper. By the way, exactly one week later, Billy wrestled the same boy, and won 14 to 1. That certainly solved the problem of "close calls" made by the official. Oh yes, Billy learned early in his wrestling career, where to place the blame for losing--on himself and no one else. This is what you should also consider...before finding fault with the "Ref!"

(Important Quote: "Always remember, whenever you point the finger of blame elsewhere...three fingers are pointing right back at you!")

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Updated November 27, 1998