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NFHS Rule Change for High School Season



Click to enlarge As a coach I remember the first time I saw the maneuver; it caught my eye. It was a flashy technique that seemed to be overwhelmingly effective in depositing the bottom wrestler from a standing position promptly to his back. I walked over to the coach who was demonstrating the move to a couple of his wrestlers. I asked him about it, since I hadn't seen it before. Once I was versed in the specifics of the technique I finally asked so what do you call it? With a wry smile the coach replied, "We call it a "friggin"-cuz it friggin hurts" Now with the new high school season just around the corner the "friggin" has a new name in referee's circles; it can now be called a technical violation or an illegal maneuver. The move, although I thankfully was never on the receiving end of its' delivery, appeared to be aptly named. Often from a start in the center of the mat from the down position a top wrestler who was well drilled in this move would allow the bottom man to hit a hard standup. Following the bottom wrestler to his feet the man in control would slide to double under-hooks while still maintaining his position behind the bottom man. To be clear, the top wrestler would nearly have a full nelson applied, but would stop short of this technical violation and lock at the shoulders of the bottom wrestler. (See attached picture series) From this position the top wrestler would apply a hard knee lift or kick to the rear of the bottom man. At the same time the top-man would elevate or jack-up his opponent high into the air. Apparently, the kick to the behind is just the beginning of the hurt that the "friggin" can apply. While the bottom man reaches the peak of his forced elevation the top wrestler in control and responsible for the safe return to the mat of his opponent would work a snapback. The snap-back the common move often applied to bottom wrestlers in a sit-out position would now be applied while the bottom wrestler was high in the air. (Again, see the attached picture series) The top-man would withdraw one of the under-hooks and grasp the chin of the bottom man. At this put the snapback motion and gravity would work the conclusion of the "friggin". When completed this move was spectacular in its efficiency, since the opponent was often felled to his back in a stunned state. Unfortunately, this move has resulted in serious injuries of wrestlers nationally. And, thankfully during this high school season it will no longer be allowed as a legal maneuver. It's no surprise that this move has been deemed a technical violation. It has severe potential for injury and its' fair application was very loose in its' interpretation of returning a man safely to the mat. The move has joined once legal techniques such as head scissors and even the full nelson. But the difficult thing will be for referees to fairly and consistently apply the new rule. Much time was spent at the rules intepretation meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana on this future question. At what point should a referee stop this technique and call the top-man for an illegal move? Most people would say that a top-man moving to double under-hooks should still be allowed to work for the return of the bottom man. Many state interpreters advised that referees should be signaling that the top-man is approaching potentially dangerous territory. However, all seemed to agree that application of the elevation and kick of the lower-torso away from the top-man clearly violated the intent of the rule. Any action that appeared to snap-back the bottom man from a standing position would be a technical violation. It seemed that this meant if the bottom man was planted with feet on the mat as well as situations when the bottom man is elevated from the mat. Therein, will lie the future debate some referees will be tighter in stopping the action while others may allow wrestlers to elevate opponents with double under-hooks as long as the man is not snapped backwards. Clearly, this new rule will take time for wrestlers, coaches, referees, and fans to adjust to. What last year was the team stud's vaunted offense, is this year's illegal and dangerous move. However, when tempers flare in a tight match and it is difficult for calmer heads to prevail, try to remember the intent of the rule is protection of all athletes. Serious injuries have resulted from the application of this technique and the move is now illegal.
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