nfhs wrestling, swimming and diving rule changes

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA (April 20, 2021) — States will have a choice of 12, 13 or 14 weight classes for both boys and girls competition in high school wrestling, effective with the 2023-24 season. This will be the first separate weight classes established for girls in high school wrestling, and it marks the first time that state associations will have a choice in the number of weight classes, with a goal of increasing opportunities for girls and boys wrestlers.

The landmark change in weight classes was one of several significant revisions recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Wrestling Rules Committee at its April 7-9 meeting held virtually this year. All recommendations were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors. 

There was only one minor change made related to uniforms and equipment for the 2021-22 season. Rule 4-5-7 no longer will require low-cut socks to be worn as a part of the weigh-in procedure.

For weight classes, states must select one of the three sets (12, 13 or 14) for girls and one of the three sets (12, 13 or 14) for boys. States cannot adopt all three sets and cannot switch back and forth during the season.

The following weight classes (in pounds) were established for girls competition (girls wrestling girls), effective July 1, 2023:

12 Weight Classes – 100, 107, 114, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 165, 185, 235.

13 Weight Classes – 100, 106, 112, 118, 124, 130, 136, 142, 148, 155, 170, 190, 235.

14 Weight Classes – 100, 105, 110, 115, 120, 125, 130, 135, 140, 145, 155, 170, 190, 235.

The following weight classes (in pounds) were established for boys competition (boys wrestling boys or girls wrestling boys), effective July 1, 2023:

12 Weight Classes – 108, 116, 124, 131, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 190, 215, 285

13 Weight Classes – 107, 114, 121, 127, 133, 139, 145, 152, 160, 172, 189, 215, 285

14 Weight Classes – 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 144, 150, 157, 165, 175, 190, 215, 285

“Previous surveys have indicated a varying number of weight classes that states wanted, so the committee attempted to meet the needs of as many people as possible,” said Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and student services and liaison to the Wrestling Rules Committee. “We have more and more state associations sponsoring girls wrestling and holding state championships for girls, so the committee believed it was time to establish uniform weight classifications for girls.

“The recommended weights were established based upon more than 215,000 assessments from the National Wrestling Coaches Association. We are excited about these changes to weight classes in high school wrestling as we believe it will provide more opportunities for male and female student-athletes to be involved in this great sport.”

In another major change affecting risk minimization, a separate 5-minute time-out has been established for the onsite health-care professional to evaluate potential head and neck injuries involving the cervical column (HNC) and/or nervous system.

As a result of the separate HNC time-out, which takes effect next year, a number of other rules in the 2021-22 NFHS Wrestling Rules Book will be altered. 

The other significant change in high school wrestling rules for 2021-22 addresses the number of matches allowed in one day of competition. Currently, no wrestler shall represent the school in more than one weight class in any meet or wrestle in more than five matches, excluding forfeits, in any one day of competition.

A change provides an exception to Rule 1-4-3 as follows: “No wrestler shall wrestle in more than six matches (championship or consolation), excluding forfeits, in any one day of a tournament conducted by the state high school association for qualification to the state high school championships or the specific state championships.”

This change was enacted as a result of a successful experiment by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association. Hopkins said that increasing the number of matches from five to six would allow postseason tournaments with more than eight competitors in a weight class to complete the tournament in one day. He said, in many cases, this change would eliminate the need for schools to stay overnight to participate in respective state qualifying tournaments and state championship events.

Swimming and Diving

Allowing full-body swimsuits for religious reasons was one of the rule changes recommended by the NFHS Swimming and Diving Rules Committee at its March 21-23 meeting, which was held virtually this year. All of the committee's recommended rules revisions were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Director.s

New Rule 3-3-5 permits competitors, for religious reasons, to wear suits that provide full body coverage without obtaining prior state association authorization – as long as the suit meet requirements in Rule 3-3-4b(1-3). The NFHS Swimming and Diving Rules Committee is the fifth NFHS sports rules committee to adopt or adjust a rule this year related to the wearing of equipment for religious purposes.   

In an effort to increase participation in high school swimming and diving, standing forward takeoffs have been approved, effective with the 2021-22 school year. The addition to Rule 9-5-2 states that for standing takeoffs, “the diver will assume a starting position that includes an upright head and body with arms straight and in a position of the diver’s choice. The diver may move the arms to various preparatory positions provided there is no attempt to start the dive.”

The new language also notes that just before or after the starting position is assumed, the diver shall stop oscillating the board. For standing takeoffs, the diver cannot oscillate the board more than four times, cannot let one or both feet leave the board during an oscillation prior to the final spring from the board, and cannot permit an oscillation to be too large to disrupt the tempo of the dive.

“The standing forward takeoff is a critical part of the educational process in teaching new dives,” said Sandy Searcy, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the NFHS Swimming and Diving Rules Committee. “This provision allows divers to participate in competition sooner, even if they have not mastered all parts of the dive, and it encourages growth in the sport.”

A new article in Rule 9-3 notes that if a diver elects to perform a standing forward takeoff, he or she must declare intent to the diving referee before performing the dive. When a diver performs a standing forward takeoff, a two-point penalty is assessed since all components of the dive are not being completed. In addition, if a diver doesn’t declare intent to perform a standing takeoff, it will be an unsatisfactory dive, and the diver will receive a score no higher than two points.

In other diving rules changes, Rule 9-2-1 now allows for diving boards to be open for practice during championship meets if breaks between sessions extend longer than 10 minutes – unless the meet director establishes specific guidelines prior to the start of competition. A change in Rule 3-3-5c now permits divers to use temporary adhesives during competitions.

In addition, a new Rule 9-6-4 states that if a dive is executed other than that which was announced, and is properly listed on the scoresheet, it will be judged as a correct dive and considered an announcer error. If the diver completes a dive as announced and it is determined that the announcer was in error, the diver will be allowed to immediately perform the correct dive.