West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker
National Wrestling Hall of Famer

"Shaking Hands Dilemma in Wrestling: The Solution"

Yes, it's true. Shaking hands with the opposing coach at the end of an individual wrestling match has been a problem for years at tournaments and dual meets. So, what's the problem? Allow me to explain.

There have been occasional incidents when wrestlers have approached opposing coaches and while shaking hands, they taunted the coaches with "in your face" remarks in reference to beating their wrestlers. Certainly, this is very unsportsmanlike wrestler-behavior. In fact, if observed by the match official, it could easily result in a flagrant misconduct penalty.

On the flip side, at times coaches are busy explaining to their wrestlers the mistakes they made, and do not want to be bothered with shaking the winner's hand. Often they tell such wrestlers to leave them alone, giving those in attendance the impression that these coaches are being unsportsmanlike.

Such spectator reaction is really not a fair perceptional assessment of the situation, and very unfair to the coaches in question. I know because a few of the finest high school coaches I have dealt with feel the same way in reference to shaking hands after a match. And I agree with them wholeheartedly.

In reference to such problems, the powers to be at the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission (myself included) highly recommends that wrestlers do not approach the opposing coach's corner at the conclusion of a match, be it a dual meet or tournament.

Understand; it is a state recommendation, not a mandate.

Wrestling is an ultra-demanding sport, both physically and emotionally. When emotions are high due to a "hotly-contested" match, it is best to separate both parties as quickly as possible. Walking to an opponent's corner (after winning a very close match) to shake the opposing coach's hand can easily cause post-match problems. This situation does not occur when the proper end-of-the-match procedure is conducted.

Keep in mind, both wrestlers shaking hands before and after the match is all that is required by the rules of the sport.

I know there are many of my readers who still contend that shaking the opposing coach's hand is a very appropriate act of wrestler sportsmanship. I think I have an idea that should satisfy everybody regarding this issue.

The Solution

Tournaments - If it is imperative in the wrestler's mind to show his good sportsmanship with the opposing coach in a tournament match, then before the match starts go over and shake his hand. With this approach, no emotions are in play, and everybody involved has no problem accepting such a positive athletic gesture.

Dual Meets - Shaking the opposing coach's hand is very easy to solve in dual meet competition. We just need to learn a lesson from our fellow sportsmen in football, baseball and other team sports. After the dual meet is completed, the wrestlers, lined up in a single file, can shake the hands of their opponents and coaches. It's that simple.

What is so ironic to me is that when I wrestled there was absolutely no concern about shaking the opposing coach's hand. Why? Well, we were taught by our coaches and parents to always respect our athletic adversaries, both opponents and coaches. There was no need to express it opening; everybody knew. And to be quite candid, there was a lot more sincere sportsmanship in my time than we often witness today.

Go figure.

The Fall

The fall (or pin) terminates the match and no individual match points are necessary. In a dual meet, the winner's team receives six points and during tournament action the victor's team receives two additional points.

A fall occurs when both shoulders are forced to the mat for a period of two seconds in high school and one second in college bouts.

Normally, the offensive wrestler (the man in control) scores the fall but if the offensive wrestler's shoulders are somehow forced to the mat for the required time, his opponent would win with a defensive fall. It's rare, but it does happen.

A fall may be indicated when parts of both shoulders are in-bounds, or one shoulder is completely in-bounds.

Mini-Mat Quiz

Q: Wrestler A, the offensive wrestler, catches Wrestler A in a cradle pinning combination. However, as Wrestler B attempts to fight off his back, Wrestler A rolls completely out-of-bounds. Only the tops of Wrestler B's shoulders remain in-bounds on the mat. What's the call?
A: If Wrestler B was held in that position for the required time, Wrestler A would secure a fall. The match would not be stopped because Wrestler B's shoulders (now considered his supporting points) are in-bounds.

OVAC Joe Thomas Wrestling Warrior

Coach Joe Thomas OVAC Wrestling Warrior of the Week is Wheeling Park's 189-pounder Tucker Goodwin, a senior mat performer. Goodwin is 14-5 this season and has an over-all record of 58-41. Tucker was 4-1 at the Christianburg (VA) Duals and made it to the quarter-final round of North Canton Invitational before losing two matches in a row. Wheeling Park Coach Sean Doyle says of Tucker, "He is one of the hardest workers in the practice room, and a great 'team leader.'" Congratulations are extended to Tucker Goodwin -- this week's Joe Thomas OVAC Wrestling Warrior. OVAC Mark Gerrity Wrestling Fan of the Week

The OVAC Mark Gerrity Wrestling Fans of the Week are Wheeling Park's Jim Jordan and Howard Corcoran. Coach Sean Doyle states, "They were there when we were state runner-ups last year, attend our matches, and their support always motivates the wrestlers to reach their goals."

The Deaton-Regis Weekly Dual Meet Predictions

Larry Deaton and Jack Regis, two of the Valley's finest mat officials are competing with each other this season, picking the winners of selected weekly matches. This week's dual meets featured matches are Beaver Local at Boardman - 7:00 p.m. and Steubenville at Buckeye Local - 6:00 p.m. (both Wednesday). Deaton picks Beaver Local over Boardman 43-21 and Steubenville over Buckeye Local 35-25. Regis calls Beaver Local the victor over Boardman 36-27 and Buckeye Local over Steubenville 28-27.

Mat Message

"The best discipline, maybe the only discipline that really works, is self-discipline."
-- Walter Kiechel

(Dr. Bill Welker can be reached via e-mail at: mattalkwv@hotmail.com)

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