NCAA approves new rule changes regarding escapes, stalling, injury timeouts and video reviews

Updated: May 13, 2011

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel on Wednesday approved changes in wrestling regarding granting an escape, stalling, injury timeouts and video review rules for the 2011-12 season.

The new granting-an-escape rule will take effect before a restart. The offensive wrestler will signal to the referee that he chooses to start in a neutral position. The defensive wrestler is awarded a point, and competition begins in the neutral position.

The NCAA Wrestling Rules Committee, which proposed all the changes, believes this rule will speed up the action in matches by eliminating time to position wrestlers and eliminating any cautions that may occur.

High school wrestling adopted this rule recently, and it has received favorable reviews from referees and coaches at that level.

Some in the wrestling community equate the change to an intentional walk in baseball or softball. If a wrestler feels his chances are better from a neutral-position start, then the option to grant the escape saves time.


The panel also approved the new criteria that better define the stalling rule, which should help ensure its consistent enforcement.

Stalling is defined as one or both wrestlers attempting to avoid wrestling action as an offensive or defensive strategy.

Wrestlers who consistently retreat to the edge of the mat, make no effort to move back into the wrestling area and fail to initiate action will be cited for stalling.

The rule will be applied in the following instances:

  • A wrestler is not permitted to continually back away from the opponent without creating offensive action.
  • A wrestler near the edge of the mat cannot step out of bounds unless it is to sprawl from an opponent’s takedown attempt or when interlocked. A participant will be called for stalling if he kicks out from a lower leg hold and as a result of this action the defending wrestler goes out of the wrestling area.
  • A wrestler who flees or attempts to flee the wrestling area as a means of avoiding being scored upon will be called for stalling. The committee considers fleeing as an attempt by a wrestler to avoid wrestling action; thus, it is considered a form of stalling and should be similarly penalized.

Wrestlers, whether on offense or defense, must make an attempt to sustain active wrestling and remain inbounds. Stalling will be called in the following instances:

  • An offensive wrestler who does not aggressively attempt to break down the opponent will be called for stalling.
  • Either wrestler pushing his opponent out of bounds to prevent scoring will be cited for stalling.
  • The offensive wrestler grasping the defensive wrestler’s leg(s) with both hands or arms will be called for stalling, unless such action is designed to break down the opponent for the purpose of securing a fall or to prevent an escape or reversal.
  • Any wrestler who repeatedly grasps or interlocks his hands around a leg without attempting an offensive move will be called for stalling.
  • A defensive wrestler must initiate action to escape or reverse the opponent, or he will be called for stalling.
  • A wrestler who repeatedly applies the legs while in the rear-standing position is stalling.

There is no longer a disqualification penalty involved in the stalling rule.

Injury timeouts

The panel also approved the recommendations regarding non-bleeding injury timeouts.

The first time a non-bleeding injury timeout is called, his opponent will be awarded the choice of position on the restart. The second time a non-bleeding injury timeout is taken; the opponent is awarded a point. A third non-bleeding injury timeout will result in the termination of the match and the opponent is awarded the victory by default.

The NCAA Wrestling Rules Committee is concerned that wrestlers have been using the injury timeout rule as a strategy to avoid wrestling action or being scored on. Committee members want to eliminate this type of gamesmanship from the sport.

Video review

At individual-advancement tournaments, a coach may request a review only of recording points, timing, match results or procedural errors.

The request for the video review should be made to the official scorer at the end of the match and before the bout sheet is removed from the scorer’s table.

It is up to the referee if the video review request is granted.

If granted, the review will only use the official mat-side video.

The official video must be designated by the tournament director before the competition begins. For timing and scoring reviews, the official video should include a clear view of the time and score.

By Greg Johnson