After talking to a friend of mine Charlie, a wrestling coach, on the Take It Uneasy podcast, I realized that of all sports and all places, these days, high school wrestling in the United States is taking regulation of weight cutting very seriously. Here’s the full 2012-13 NFHS Wrestling Rules Book if you’re curious.
Now, if we can all turn to page 8 and read the three parts of Rule 1.5:
Minimum Body Fat Percentage
Require that minimum body fat should not be lower than 7% for males or 12% for females:
Each individual state high school association shall develop and utilize a specified weight-control program which will discourage excessive weight reduction and/or wide variations in weight, because this may be harmful to the competitor. Such a program should be planned to involve the wrestler, as well as the parents/guardians, appropriate health-care professional and coach in establishing the minimum certified weight class. An ideal program would be one where an appropriate health-care professional would assist in establishing a minimum weight class through hydration testing, body fat assessment and a monitored descent plan. Minimum body fat should not be lower than 7% for males or 12% for females.
Minimum Hydration Levels
Require that specific gravity of urine (USG) be not greater than 1.025.
For health and safety reasons, the state’s weight control program shall require hydration testing with a specific gravity not greater than 1.025, which immediately precedes the body fat assessment. A minimum weight class will be determined by a body fat assessment. Any wrestler’s assessment that is below 7% for males and 12% for females shall have a medical release to participate signed by an appropriate health-care professional. This release shall not allow a wrestler to participate at a weight class below that for which the initial assessment allows. A program to monitor an average weight loss of 1.5% a week, with descent, may use the minimum weight determined by the body fat testing as the lowest weight class a wrestler may wrestle. This weight management plan should also involve a nutritional component developed at the local level.
A minimum weight class will be determined for each wrestler.
The state’s weight-control program shall require each wrestler to establish a certified minimum weight and prohibit recertification at a lower weight during the season.
Application in Other Sports
Olympic judo is now playing with weight cutting rules, requiring that athletes be within 5% of their weight class the morning of competition. Other sports are struggling with this as well. Cutting weight is a socially-accepted norm. Very few coaches of professional athletes will recommend that an athlete not drop weight.
Leave it to high school wrestling to lead the way on implementing interesting practical regulations. Most athletes welcome these changes. We prefer a world where no one does the water-cut vs the current world where 95% of people do the water cut.
I leave you with a video of Khadzhimurat Gatsalov who moved up 50 lbs from 96kg to 120kg to win another Freestyle Wrestling World Championship this year: