The topic of Coach Misconduct comes up frequently enough on this board, so let me offer something to everyone. I will describe how I train our officials to handle interactions with coaches. I am fully aware that our approach is not used by other associations. I will describe what we define as a Clarification Question, and what constitutes a Coach Conference. . Clarification Question . A clarification question is something a coach can ask within 2 seconds. And the referee can either answer back within 2 seconds, or decide that an Official's Time Out may be warranted (e.g., to investigate whether the scoreboard, or time remaining, etc. are accurate). A clarification question is not a DISCUSSION - it is a quick question and an equally rapid response. Coach wanted to know something and the referee gave a response - all without interupting the match. The clarification question should be asked from the bench/corner - no need to get up and go to the table and cause some sort of delay. Simply remain in your corner and ask your question: . Coach - "Was there near fall? Referee - "No, wasn't in criteria. Green, take your position on the bottom....." . See how that works? Quick and easy. No violations or penalties involved, just a rapid exchange of information that helps all sides stay in sync. . Coach Conference/Coach Misconduct . If a coach wants something more than the 5 second question-answer exchange of a Clarification Question, the referee should ask a very straightforward question to the coach: "Are you requesting a conference?" . Now the coach is 100% in control of their fate. If they answer NO, then the match simply resumes and we didn't have to interrupt the wrestling at all. If the they answer YES, then the referee MUST go to the scorer's table to meet. The Coach Conference starts with the referee asking this question, "What rule misapplication would you like to discuss?" . At this point, there are only two possible outcomes which will result from this conference: . 1) The referee corrects a ruling 2) The coach receives a Coach Misconduct . It is that straightforward. The coach has the conference as an avenue to rectify something the referee ruled upon in error. But.......that avenue carries an associated risk/cost of a Coach Misconduct if the rule application was correct, or if the coach only wanted to question the judgment of the official. This penalty exists in all sports as a means of limiting needless interruptions in a contest. If the interruption was warranted (e.g., the referee ruled in error0, then no penalty because you could basically classify this interruption as "necessary". . Keep in mind that the sport of wrestling is designed for continuous action, and the better conditioned athlete should have an advantage over a lesser conditioned opponent, the longer the match goes on. If we allow needless interruptions to the match, without any consequence, then we are altering the competitive balance unfairly to the benefit of the lesser conditioned athlete. . My last point on all of this is that it is just good hygiene to formalize the Coach Conference with that simple question, "Are you requesting a conference?". No coach should ever be caught by surprise with a Coach Misconduct penalty - it should only happen because the coach has consciously chosen to take that risk. Often enough, when asked that simple question, I find many coaches will decline to pursue the matter. But again, we want that choice to be 100% in control of the coach. And this should always be handled in a measured, professional manner - it shouldn't be a time when emotions get amped up on either side of the discussion.
What are the takes on "injury time out" used by many athletes/coaches/teams? Where said wrestler makes a noise or points to their nose, for example, and basically get a chance to take 3--45 second breather and/or drink some water?
Some teams in the early-mid 2000s, who were always top3 and had multiple wrestlers in the finals, did this. When it was CLEAR the wrestler was fine.
Are there no wrestler or team point deductions for this?
For injury time out, the referee has lots of limits on what they ought to do in judging whether the time out is "legitimate". If the kid and/or coach requests an injury time out, then the referee is to grant it. We don't necessarily know why they need that time out - could be something we cannot observe (e.g., the kid feels they are about to vomit, or they need to take a hit on their inhaler for their asthma, etc.). It is unwise for a referee to deny a request for injury timeout and take a risk that the kid could be hurting badly. . That being said, the rules book has always stated, "Taking an injury time-out for a non-injury situation is unethical." However, it doesn't prescribe a penalty for that. Common thinking among officials is that we would issue an Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty if we judged that this type of unethical behavior had occurred. But, in a practical sense, there is little we can do to make that determination absent some very blatant actions or words by the "injured" contestant or coach. . It's a tough situation, and the injury time-out can be abused so that a kid can catch a breather, or get a quick coaching clinic on something the opponent has been doing successfully, etc.
This situation has always been a frustration to me as an official. Twenty years ago if I felt they were okay and just screaming to stop the fall I would just keep on counting until the situation ended. I did that in a kid's state final match and the losing kid's dad was furious at me for waiting for the fall to occur instead of stopping the match for injury. The kid was fine but ended up in 2nd, which was probably higher than he deserved since I later heard he cried out of a fall in several matches he came back to win. I must have had 4 coaches come up after that match thanking me for making him face the fact that he was getting pinned and saying that he had done it to their kid too.
We can't do that anymore. If someone cries out now we have to stop it, give the imminent points and then restart in the referees position after completing the injury time out. We just have to err on the side of caution, even when everyone knows what the kid is doing.
BTW, that is not something that is "coached" as I have heard people say. Most good coaches are totally embarrassed when a kid does that and would never coach them to do that. I consider it a character flaw in the kid. JMHO
BTB, as a coach I appreciate your approach. Straight forward and clear. However, my big issue here is the inconsistency with which this is applied. Some refs never issue misconducts. Others donít call it all year, then start during post season.
Once super clear example. I personally observed one 4A coach formally protest three times. Like, call in the rules committee. And go to the table to have a prolonged argument MANY times. A lot of you know who Iím talking about. I donít think any of these resulted in a change to the match score. So each of these should have been a misconduct penalty. But they obviously werenít called or the head couch would have been removed from the tournament. This guy gets away with this because most refs donít call misconduct. BTB, what is the solution?
Also, can you please remind us of the consequences? First is a warning, second is a team point, third is two team points and head coach is booted?
You have the penalty sequence correct for Coach Misconduct: First a warning, second -1 Team Point, third -2 Team Points and Head Coach is ejected for the remainder of the day. . The Coach Misconduct is always assessed against the Head Coach - even if an Asst. Coach, or some wrestler sitting in the corner, decides to request a conference and loses. . As for the chronic abusers like you describe, here are a few ideas, and not all would work at a tournament like Mat Classic: . 1) At the Coaches Meeting before a tournament begins, ask the Head Official in front of all the other coaches and officials about how Coach Conferences and Coach Misconduct will work. This is a chance to prompt/push the officiating crew toward more enforcement, if they aren't already inclined. You can even tell them about the procedure that other associations use, then just reel off the basics of what I shared earlier. . 2) If you have been able to establish a baseline at the coaches meeting (or pre-meet briefing for a dual meet) for enforcing the Coach Misconduct rule, then go to the table if you see the opposing coach having some drawn out discussion. Now, nobody really wants to be "that guy" and start reminding the referee, but, it may be the only way to keep the chronic abuser from playing that game all day long. It can be as simple as asking, "Are you having a Coach Conference right now?" If the answer is NO, then remind them that your wrestler wants to be wrestling right now and this interruption is affecting the match. If the answer is YES, then let them finish whatever theyh are doing. But, if you don't see some changed ruling, or don't see a Coach Misconduct issued, that is when you go back to the baseline established in the Coaches Meeting - and remind the referee what was promised during that meeting. . If you run into an officiating crew that refuses to enforce, then you are basically stuck with that, unless you want to go nuclear and then demand a conference to call out the misapplication of the rules by the official for not issuing Coach Misconducts. Nobody wants to get into that type of engagement, but, if it was bad enough, it would be a last option. But, I wouldn't recommend that approach unless there is a chronic abuser like the one you described - at some point, enough is enough, right?
Unfortunately, the carryover from match to match isn't recorded. One 3A wrestler at the last Mat Classic had THREE concussion timeouts, one in each of the three matches, and was able to move forward each time after resting. There needs to be some way of cataloging these issues so they do not happen.
"Taking an injury time-out for a non-injury situation is unethical." However, it doesn't prescribe a penalty for that
A wrestler should not have the ability to dictate the outcome of a bout by calling for injury time as he/she is about to be pinned/lose a bout. The official should award point/points to the wrestler who just got his pin/back points taken away. A wrestler should not have the ability to call for injury time stoppage MULTIPLE TIMES in a tournament. You know who you are.
There should be a penalty for continuously stopping a bout by claiming injury. Especially when said injury occurs when you are about to be pinned. No one wrestler should have the ability to stop multiple bouts with the same injury. You are either hurt, or you are not.
If you were the Ike coach for the 126 4A match (curry / chichenoff), how would have you handled it? It was an egregious call right in front of the coach and everyone else to witness (including the video camera). The call was at the very end of the match so it truly did put the wrong kid into the state finals.
A coachís job is to always advocate for the kids. Isnít that also a refís job too? The WIAAís? Not to pick favorites, but to advocate for all the kids and to keep them in the forefront of our minds in every decision / rule that is made? Refs are humans and make mistakes, big ones like this at times. They want grace when that happens and they should get it; but refs arenít ever supposed offer grace to the coaches and kids?
Seems as if the rules may be so tight that enforcing them loses sight of whatís most importantóand thatís to make 100% sure the call is correct vs. handing out misconduct calls shutting down any chance to get a call reversed if warranted. Bad calls without fair opportunities to dispute them also create unnecessary tensions between refs, coaches, wrestlers and fans and thatís not healthy in my opinion as, again, we all should keep the focal point all about the kidsóalways. If the coach does not use the exact verbiage he is supposed to during an emotional moment, thatís really enough to not let him or her be heard in the best interest of the kids /sport?
Is it possible that the reason there is inconsistency between refs is because the majority of refs ARE putting the kids first and do want to be 100% sure a call is correct? They might be putting themselves in the shoes of a wrestler or coach momentarily so they are actually are capable of listening with an open mind? If I were the ref in that 126 lb match and later watched the video of myself making a call like that, then watched myself immediately shut down the only person who can speak for the wrestler (coach was respectfully btw), Iíd have a hard time sleeping.
Iím an understand why the rule is in place (letter of law) BUT bend it if the letter of law isnít practical, wise or fair at times. (intent of law). I feel most refs share my opinion on this. Think if ALL police officers operated like robots and always followed letter vs the intent of lawónever graceÖ weíd have anarchy.
All said, how should have the Ike coach addressed this in order to have a chance to get the call reversed? óif he even had a chance based on the set rules?
Yes, there is lots of inconsistency in how this rule is applied by officials around our state, and around the nation. That is primarily because of the setup of officiating associations - they are literally independent bodies loosely organized under umbrella organizations like the WOA or the NFHS. It is frustrating for coaches and for referees as well - there are "regional variances" in how things work, when there don't need to be such differences. This is something which motivates me in participating in national forums, and in conducting statewide training here in Washington. But, let's move beyond this broader issue to the specific incident at hand. . What should that coach have done differently? I can propose what I would have done, and I am a longtime wrestling referee, so I have a very deep knowledge of the rules and can choose my language very carefully. I coached for 5 years and only took a referee to the table 1 time - I could have done it many more times, but, sometimes as coaches, we have to accept that there will be certain calls which cannot be reversed. That being said, here is what I would have done if I was that coach: . First thing is to insist on having my Coach Conference. In the replay, the way the "conference" went down looked too informal for my tastes and did not appear to give a full explanation of the rules dispute and the rationale for the call. I want to make sure that both parties know the conference has begun, and when it is finished. . Secondly, when I have a conference, whether as a coach or as a referee, what is most effective is to use rules-based language and to focus on observable items/facts/data. The conference should always start with the coach raising the rule they believe was misapplied. In this situation, it would be the takedown award, but more specifically, the awarding of Control which is a requirement for fulfilling the takedown rule (Rule 5-25: control, down on the mat, inbounds, beyond reaction time OR feet finish inbounds). What is at question is whether the wrestler had control in order to then be awarded that final takedown. So I would have asked the official, "What constituted control when you awarded the takedown?". Then let the referee tell you what they saw, and what they were thinking, when they applied the rule for Control, and then the rule for Takedown. . Third, After hearing what the referee observed and their rationale, you now have the ability to determine whether the rule may have been misapplied. In this situation at hand, the key issue was the position of the attacking wrestler's right leg/foot - it was not "laced" over the opponent's left leg, instead, it was resting on the right hip of the opponent. So, when the attacking wrestler is seeming to apply a Merkel hold, it isn't really a Merkel anyway. But, it's not the name of the move which determines control, it is always the two fundamental pieces from the Control Rule 5-6: Restraining Power + Position of Advantage. Based on what the referee recounts during the conference dictates how far you can go with the dispute. If the referee says they saw the legs interlaced, then you are kind of stuck because now we are in the realms of the "facts" or "observable" - and you are at an impasse if the referee tells you that they saw something you didn't see. . Fourth, since it is a State Quarterfinal match, you push as hard as possible. The outcome of this match could literally be life-changing for the wrestlers, so you do whatever you can to seek justice. Like you said, the goal is to get it right for the KIDS, not for the adults so much. If the referee didn't see the leg on the hip, I would push that point - and insist that the leg was on the hip, not interlaced. Allow the referee to reconsider, "Did I actually see it with my eyes, or was I assuming the legs were interlaced????" Perhaps the referee might conclude, "Hey, I didn't actually look at the attacking wrestler's right leg", so it opens up the possibility to pursue the dispute further. Because if we get to that point, then my next question would be, "Would you consider it a position of advantage if that leg was resting on the opponent's hip?". The answer to that question is telling - because that is the core point of contention. . Fifth, if the conference doesn't yield the desired result, then the coach should just insist on a protest and that the Games Committee convene at this mat. The mat should be shut down until the protest is concluded. The coach should remain, and I would keep my wrestler in the mat area as well, in case the remedy requires re-wrestling. I want my kid ready to go, and fully engaged, regardless of how this turns out. . The protest is as far as a coach can take it. Sort of like having your "day in court" - if it doesn't turn out the way you wish, you have to accept it and move on. However, by keeping everything centered on the language straight out of the rules book, and establishing the facts/data/observations from the referee, that gives you the best chance possible to get things changed. . Not sure that is a satisfying answer, but, it is the best I can propose in that type of situation.
The point everyone is forgetting is that the referee was going to allow a protest based on a misapplication of the rules, but the Tahoma assistant yelled out that the wrestler had left the mat, which he didn't. This again is another misapplication of the rule that was used by an opposing coach which should not even be a factor. It was shameful in every way and the wrong wrestler won that match.
you did a great job of painting the ideal way to approach it while sitting at home outside that environment. Thatís the best you can do and I get that. Your response really was comprehensive and great advice!
In that moment with all that energy, disbelief and confusion itís very difficult (not impossible) to follow the steps you suggest.
Yes, there were other factors that took place. The wrestler did step off the mat (but not far)That cued the Tahoma coach to walk by the scorers table and shout out that the wrestler left the mat so there should be no more debate. Instead of giving the Tahoma coach a misconduct for tossing in his two bits from behind the scorers table, he instead IMMEDIATELY agreed with the Tahoma coach and, unfortunately, the Ike coaches along with the rest of us watching this unfold werenít 100% sure the Tahoma coach was wrong. When the ref validated the Tahoma coachís claim, that was a big blow to Ike coaches (None of us of knew for certain about the mat rule until the Davis coach looked it up later and found that the wrestler could walk off the mat legally after the match).
At this point, the Ike coach had 2 misconducts on him, the next wrestlers were in the middle of the mat, their coaches were in the corner yelling at the Ike coaches to get off the mat, etc. It really was a lot to process in a short period of time.
Itís the refs responsibility to control all of this mess and allow the only people who can speak for the wrestler voice their concerns Again, the wrestler is powerless in all of this.
I think most of us hope at this point that this match is at the forefront of future training and creates debate over the letter of a rule vs the spirit of it. Refs must be more consistent and error on the side of whatís best for the kids; not them or the coaches. Most donít realize that the very next match the Ike kid wrestled ended with him taking down his opponent with only a second or two remaining in the match to win. This other ref allowed the other coach to protest to the top before it was all said and done. 20 minutes. Tough pills to swallow that day and totally avoidable.
The entire situation was messed up procedurally. And, the coaches and their wrestler didn't get their due process. . So, there is nothing that can be done to change the past. But, going forward, that is why I lay out the approach for conferences that I did. A coach needs to be prepared at any moment to request a conference, and set themselves up for the best result possible. And every official needs to be ready to get called to the table for every single call they make - it doesn't happen often, but being ready for that at all times makes one a much, much better official. . The referee has the responsibility to administer the contest. And, in tournaments, coaches are fortunate that the WIAA has provided an avenue to protest - beyond the Coach Conference, the opportunity to get the Games Committee to give their oversight. To be honest, at Mat Classic, they basically entertain any protests - even stuff that shouldn't be protestable. So, if a coach already absorbed a Coach Misconduct for disagreeing with a call, then they will suffer no additional penalty for having the protest conducted. Things could turn their way with the Games Committee and the Coach Misconduct would be removed along with overturning the original call. If the coach loses the protest, then nothing changes but there are no additional penalties or costs levied on the coach. . One last point I want to offer is this - the letter of the rule IS the spirit of the rule. Rules are crafted with specific language in the attempt to convey how to apply that rule to achieve its purpose (the "spirit of the rule"). I don't condone officials thinking they know better than the rule and feeling like they should just ignore certain rules. If a referee feels strongly that a rule is unfair, or inadequate, or broken, then they need to pursue a rule change. But, until the rule change is published in the NFHS Rules Book, the official must enforce the existing rule. And enforcing the rule as written represents the best way to fulfill the "spirit of the rule".
Re: Going forward
Posted by Example on 2/24/2023, 5:37 am, in reply to "Going forward"
Thanks again BTB! Very helpful information throughout. I know I have personally learned from the dysfunction of this match. Iím sure others have as well.
This is a great thread and post. One time, I called for a conference at a tournament, knowing that I was going to get dinged and lose a team point but had to stick up for my wrestler who was getting slow rolled on accumulating back points while the opponent was continuously fleeing the mat to avoid back points and any takedowns. The opponent lived his life on the edge of the mat. Yes, I knew it was legal to flee the mat on exposure if that is the only way to escape exposure. Before I could get to the table referee decided that I was questioning his judgment, dinged me the point and moved back to the center to restart the match. I ended up having to call in the head referee, Wallace Chocklin, to make the referee hear me out. My reasoning was if I call for the conference, I get to have the conference before you ding me and restart. I got dinged after I had a chance to point out that the opponent lived on the edge of the mat from his feet and bottom. After getting dinged, I told my wrestler to put the wrestler up on his feet at the restart. Let the guy flee the center, stay centered up and only wrestle in the center. Finally, the stall warnings started coming because it was so obvious. Back points started coming with an eventual pin as the opponent tried to bridge from the center to out of bounds while scraping his shoulders on the mat.
Thanks for sharing that story. Lesson for everyone reading that post - if a referee ever issues a Coach Misconduct without having a conference in front of the scorers table, then you should request a conference over the misapplication of the Coach Misconduct rule.
Last note - coaches should use the conference to drive a point home with the referee, even though they know they will get a Misconduct. Basketball coaches do that type of thing all the time - take a Technical Foul simply to make a point. So it is wrestling. If you want to make an impression on the official in the name of safety, or to highlight some type of perceived injustice, have a conference. Take the Misconduct Warning knowing you might have accomplished a higher goal to get the referee to think harder about something, or be more aware of something important.
It is called tactical thinking and works for coaches misconduct calls or stalling calls. If a kid has a 3-4 point lead in the last 30 seconds of a match, with no stall calls, he should have no urgency to try and score. Just stay engaged and ride it out. You have 3 stall calls you could give up (W-1-1) and you still win. Wrestlers and coaches need to know where they are at in the match, keep cool heads and go for the tactical win.