Weigh-ins, hair length and injury time addressed in new wrestling rules

The era of female wrestlers has influenced new rules changes coming in the upcoming 2020-21 season. As we have seen around eastern Oregon, females are taking the mat in record numbers. According to numbers from 2018-19, female wrestling increased by 5,000 as 2,890 schools hosted 21,124 participants across the United States. Male wrestling numbers are 247, 441 for the same time period, making wrestling the seventh-most popular sport in high school.

The governing body for high school wrestling met April 5-6 and made changes in a number of areas.

“These rule changes are some of the most prolific modifications in the history of high school wrestling,” said Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and student services and liaison to the Wrestling Rules Committee in a recent press release. “The rules committee made necessary, drastic changes to attract more young people to our sport without sacrificing the health and safety of the participants.”


Under the new rules, both males and females will weigh-in at the same time. Females will be allowed to wear a form-fitted compression shirt and both males and females will be required to wear a legal uniform (one-piece singlet or two-piece).

“The change to the weighing-in process is remarkably timely, as schools have struggled in the past to identify adult females to weigh-in the female wrestlers,” Hopkins said. “This action accommodates transgender children as well; it respects their rights and dignity and addresses any modesty concerns for any affected children. We anticipate that the entire weigh-in process will be expedited and more efficient.”

Hair length

The previous hair length rule of “not extend below the top of an ordinary shirt collar” has been removed.

“Removing the hair-length rule is a monumental change,” Hopkins said. “It is important to embrace the current culture of young boys and girls who are expressing themselves through their appearance, making this the perfect opportunity to extend wrestling to young people who otherwise would not be attracted to our sport. While the hair-length restriction has been removed, the requirement that hair-control devices/treatment items cannot be hard, abrasive or sharp remains. If a hair cover is used, it shall be attached to the ear guards. Additionally, the barring of oils, or greasy substances on or in the hair is still in effect.”

“Pulling of an opponent’s hair” has now been added under Rule 5-29-1 under unnecessary roughness with the new ruling.

Related: Wresting Action Photos

Tie your shoes, stay on the mat and stalling

As wrestlers take the mat next season, take note to have your shoes tied. If a shoe comes off during a match, a technical violation will be assessed and the injury clock will be started to correct the situation.

If a wrestler has already been awarded points for a near-fall or takedown and the opponent has also fled the mat, only the points for the near-fall or takedown will be awarded.

In the event of a fourth stalling violation, a new rule states the match will now be automatically be stopped and restarted.

“This rule remedies that if the fourth stall occurs in the third period there might not be an opportunity to restart before the end of the match,” Hopkins said. “This rule change assures that the offending wrestler is held accountable and subsequent points are awarded to the opponent.”

Injury time-out

In an effort to discourage wrestlers from taking injury time-outs to stop an opponent from scoring, a new rule has provided the official discretion to award applicable points to the non-injured wrestler and charge an injury time-out to the injured wrestler.

For a complete explanation of the new rules, see https://www.nfhs.org/articles/2020-21-high-school-wrestling-rules-changes-address-weigh-in-procedures-hair-length-restrictions/