Rob's Wrestling Rant
Some questions that I get asked frequently include, “Why do we have Stalemates in Beach Wrestling? Why don’t we just allow the wrestlers to continue wrestling until someone scores? Why is there a 5-count when it comes to calling Stalemates?” These are great questions, and let me explain why we use Scrambles and Stalemates in this great sport, and the materialization of the 5-count.
Understand that this style of wrestling is based on stand-up wrestling. There have been many times in the past when a tournament would return wrestlers to the stand-up position immediately after a wrestler isn’t on their feet, which has severely limited the type of offensive options used by the wrestlers. That has been one of the problems in helping this style grow over the years. It restricts the wrestler’s from using all of their tools, and has also hinders the entertainment value of getting more spectators involved with Beach Wrestling. So first, we must understand that the purpose of allowing Scrambling is to make this style more exciting by allowing more offensive opportunities.
Why don’t we allow wrestlers to continue to Scramble until someone scores? I’ll answer that question with another question; should wrestlers be allowed to remain in the Scrambling position for the entire 3-minute duration of the matches? If we allow that to happen, this will very well lead to some boring, drawn out matches that diminishes many of the benefits associated with this style. Imagine a wrestler who attempts a double-leg shot and their opponent counters with a sprawl, and neither wrestler can better their positions to score. How many wrestlers want to be stuck in this scenario for three minutes? How many spectators want to see wrestlers stuck in this scenario for three minutes? Just as the Stalemate is designed to encourage more action in the matches, so is the use of Stalemates.
The 5-Count was merely a suggestion proposed by SandWrestling.com in an effort to establish consistency on the Stalemate calls issued by the referees. And it’s a suggestion that has started to be utilized in more and more Beach Wresting events around the world. The 5-Count only starts when one of the wrestlers is in the Scrambling position, and the referee stops the count if the wrestlers return to their feet before the count of 5 (or, of course, whenever a wrestler scores with a takedown or push-out technique). A count of 5 by the referee is plenty of time for a wrestler to finish their scoring attempt while also encouraging more action in the totality of a match.
An added perk of Stalemates and the 5-Count is that there is a defensive strategy that Beach Wrestlers should also implement into their game-plan. When a wrestler finds themselves in a bad position, they have a chance to prevent their opponent from scoring. And any good sport implements defense as well as offense.
Now the use of Scrambling, Stalemates & the 5-Count has been developed over the years by nations that have used the takedown method of scoring instead of the now outdated touch-rule. Keep in mind that the sport is still developing and these might be tweaked over the next few years. But using the Scramble, Stalemates and 5-Count are a step in the right direction.
Do you have a question about Scrambles, Stalemates and the 5-Count, or a suggestion on how to improve the use of these elements in Beach Wrestling? Leave a comment and I’ll try to answer any questions and examine any suggestions. Thanks for reading, and share the blog if you like this topic.
After the completion of the 2014 World Championships in Greece, United World Wrestling (UWW) President, Nenad Lalovic, made the following statement about the possibility of beach wrestling being included in the Olympic Games:
“You never know… It’s an interesting discipline, so why not? But we are far from that now. We have to improve it first, as its matches are too short. They can be over in 20 seconds. They do not show enough of the technique of the wrestlers, this is the problem. It has got more to do with strength.”
In the aftermath of this statement, UWW has created an international board of directors for this emerging style of wrestling. The board made some noticeable changes early in 2015, which included extending the amount of points need to win a match to 3 (instead of 2) and also slightly increased the size of the wrestling ring to encourage takedowns instead of push-outs. Oh yeah, they also changed the international rules (which were interpreted differently among participating countries around the world) so wrestlers score points for a takedown (some countries used takedowns as a means to score, while others used a “sumo-style” touch rule instead).
During my assistance for the Michigan USA Wrestling season, the amount of points was further extended so that 5 points was needed for a wrestler to emerge victorious. This was to address the problem that wrestlers, coaches, and parents believed that the matches were too short. The perception of short matches discouraged potential athletes from travelling to beach wrestling tournaments, and the modification used by the Michigan branch of USA Wrestling seemed to do the trick. Roughly one out of 8 matches lasted the entire 3-minute duration.
But are the matches really too short? If so, how would you recommend we correct the problem?
I believe that the move to 5 points was a good call to address the problem of encouraging wrestlers to travel for beach wrestling events. But I wouldn’t extend it any further. If you’ve ever wrestled on the beach in 90 degree heat, then you already know that the body fatigues quickly. Between the heat and the sun, which also reflects off of the sand, 2 minutes into a match can quickly compare to the exhaustion of wrestling in double-overtime round during a scholastic (American folkstyle) match.
These shorter matches (when compared to mat styles of wrestling) provide a huge opportunity, especially at the Olympic/World Championship level, that I believe is being overlooked.
Currently, over 200 countries are affiliated with UWW, meaning all of those countries are eligible to participate in the Olympics and World Championships. But with the qualification process, each weight class during the Olympic Games only consists of 18-20 wrestlers per weight class. And the wrestling powerhouse countries, such as the United States and Iran, have wrestlers in every weight class, year after year. What about the other countries, those that aren’t powerhouses in the sport? One problem that wrestling currently faces is that the growth of our sport is hindered by the lack of opportunities in most of the world.
True, beach wrestling matches are shorter in duration. Heck, many matches last less than half the time a freestyle or Greco-Roman wrestling match would last. The opportunity that lies within those shorter matches is larger tournament brackets for each weight class. What would be more prestigious; winning the gold medal in a weight class with 20 wrestlers or winning the gold in a 64-person bracket? Expanding the number of Olympic wrestlers can rejuvenate the sport, especially in countries that already embrace beach wrestling but don’t have much of a presence in the current Olympic styles (such as France, Brazil, and Australia). The style of beach wrestling might just be the seed we need to get our sport growing again.
Not to mention this style is easier for the general population to understand compared to other styles. And we sure do need more spectators to keep our rightful place at the Games.
I’ve received a lot of inquiries asking for help on how to host a Sand Wrestling tournament. The majority of those inquiries are asking about what is needed to host an event. That’s what I’m going to talk about in this blog entry. Basically, for those who have purchased the book “Hosting Beach Wrestling Events”, I’m mostly looking at page 27 and will expand by sharing key elements that are also within that section (which is Chapter 4 of the book).
First, before I dive into that checklist, you need a location where the sand is level and free of debris (garbage, rocks, etc.), and the sand shouldn’t be composed of pebbles. Not all sand is suitable for sand wrestling. If you wouldn’t want to wrestle in it, then the athletes aren’t going to want to wrestle in that sand either. Also, you need insurance coverage. Here in the United States, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and USA Wrestling sanction Sand Wrestling (Beach Wrestling) and offer insurance. There are conflicting reports on whether or not the NUWAY affiliates sanction Sand Wrestling; some states do and it seems that some states do not. If you get a sanction (insurance) through one of these established wrestling leagues, then the host club must become a member of that league, if it isn’t already. Also, each wrestler must also be a member of that same wrestling organization. You can also choose to go the route of getting insurance, but it will be pricier than getting coverage through the leagues; the benefit is that it opens your competition to all athletes without requiring them to purchase a membership card that they might only use once, since membership of the leagues previously listed expire at the end of August. For countries outside of the United States, please check with your official National Wrestling Federation.
Ok, now that I have that out of the way, let me continue with the checklist...
You will need at least two or three Wrestling Rings. The wrestling rings should be a color that conflicts with the sand, letting it stand out for the wrestlers and the spectators. Rope is the most cost-effective option when making a ring. Using a yellow rope is a cheap route, but it also looks cheap too, and difficult for athletes and the audience to see. Rings are supposed to have a diameter of 23 feet, which means to measure out 72.5 inches for the diameter of the rope. Secure the ends with zip-ties, and also secure at least 4 (I prefer 8, it holds the circle in place much easier) plastic stakes to the ring in an equal distance from each other. Hammer the stakes to the ground. The time it takes to conduct one scholastic match is 6 minutes, and on average a sand match will last around two. So each ring should be able to have as many matches as 3 wrestling mats in the same amount of time. Three rings = nine wrestling mats.
The sand will become unleveled during the tournament, and a Landscape Rake is the ideal way to level the sand quickly. They can be pricey, so if you are on a budget than consider opting for another rake or means of leveling the sand. Also, the sand can become very hot and you will need a Water Hose to cool off the sand from time to time. Leveling and cooling the sand does not need to happen between each match, only when necessary.
Each wrestling ring should have a Table, and each table should have a Pair of Chairs (for the scorekeeper and timer, although these duties can be done by one person), a Stopwatch, Plenty of Pens, a Portable Scoreboard, and a Bucket of Water with a Soft Sponge in front of the table. The bucket of water is so any wrestlers who get sand on their face can quickly wash it away. The stopwatch is to keep time of the match (matches have a 3 minute limit) and pens are used to mark the Preprinted Bracket Sheets. With the winner of each match being the first to score three points, I find it easier to score directly on the bracket sheets instead of using a separate bout sheet. Just be sure that the winning wrestler confirms with the table that they are correctly identified on the bracket sheet. If you are having a team-dual tournament, then you will also need Team-Dual Sheets.
Each ring will need a Referee, and each referee will need a Whistle, and a pair of Colored Wristbands (blue or green and a red wristband). The wristbands correspond to the color of the wrestler who is wearing the corresponding Colored Ankle Bands. This isn’t anything new for experienced wrestlers, but I’m stating this for the growing number of nonprofit groups that are hosting sand wrestling contest without any other wrestling experience. One wrestler wears one band on their ankle while the other wrestler wears the other color. When a wrestler scores, the referee uses the hand with the corresponding colored wristband to let the scorekeeper know which wrestler scored.
If predetermined weight classes are being used, then you will need a Scale to weigh the wrestlers during the registration process before the contest begins. Also needed are Registration Forms, and they should include the age and weight (approximate weight if a scale isn’t used) so wrestlers can be divided into their proper age group and then further segmented into weight classes. Awards should be given to the top wrestlers for each weight class, which could be medals, trophies, cash (not for kids though, there are rules against cash prizes that could strip them of being eligible in scholastic sports), or a wide variety of unique rewards for performing well.
That is all that is required to get you started on hosting a Sand Wrestling contest. There are other things that can help you, which include Canopies, a Megaphone (or another speaker system), Areas to Promote Your Sponsors, an Area to Sell Merchandise and Food, and a Radio.
If you’d like more tips on how to boost your upcoming Sand Wrestling event, I would strongly recommend investing in the book, “Hosting Beach Wrestling Events”. There are multiple links to purchase the book from Lulu, or you can search Amazon for the book. If you have any questions, leave a comment on this blog and I will do my best to assist you. I would prefer you leave a comment so we can help everyone else improve the quality of their Sand Wrestling completion as well.
United World Wrestling has recently announced adjustments to the rules of Sand Wrestling (aka Beach Wrestling). To read their official press release about this matter, click on this link: http://unitedworldwrestling.org/node/1893
Here are the highlights of the major changes that are going to be implemented in 2015.
-First wrestler to THREE points is declared the winner
-One point for a takedown or pushout, and two points for takedowns with back exposure
-One 3-minute period with no overtime
-Criteria for match tied during regulation: 1. Highest value action 2.Last to score
-Wrestling surface is increased from 6m in diameter to 7m in diameter (or approximately an increase from 20 feet to 23 feet)
Overall, I really like these changes. To me, it demonstrates that the UWW is serious about their commitment to this wrestling style and are trying to make improvements to get Sand Wrestling included into the Olympic wrestling program. These rule adjustments are meant to encourage more exciting action while also clarifying the rules. Let me help explain how these rules will benefit our version of wrestling.
A lot of folks within the wrestling community have griped about the matches being too short, that the better wrestler doesn’t always win when the first athlete to score 2 points is the victor, and that there is were too many push-outs. The first two issues are addressed by increasing the necessary points for a victory from 2 to 3. The third issue is addressed by increasing the size of the wrestling ring. This should slightly place more emphasis on takedowns and throws, which are more exciting to fans and more enticing to experienced wrestlers, while also maintaining the importance of controlling the wrestling’s position in the ring and not penalize wrestlers who have worked hard on their push-out techniques.
Also new to these rules are the overtime rounds, or lack thereof. This has always been an area that has been adjusted, with the initial rules allowing the referee to determine a winner with no clear criteria on how the referee is determine the winner. Then there was a 30 second overtime round, with both wrestlers starting the round in an “Overhook and Underhook” position. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how effective the “Over and Under” overtime was, as most localized competitions use their own rules for overtime. On average, only one match per two tournaments have gone into overtime, but with the increase of points needed to secure a victory also increases the odds of matches going into overtime. This new method, the criteria to determine the winner of a tied match is clear. Localized competitions may very well set-up their own rules to better cater to their particular events, so as an athlete it’s a good idea to ask about overtime rules during the rule meeting just before the event begins.
While what I’ve already discussed will improve Sand Wrestling, there are two major areas that have been unclear for quite some time, and it seems UWW has worked hard to help fix those problem areas. The initial rules of sand wrestling call for a point when a body part touches the sand (much like Sumo wrestling), but the way the rule was phrased was not very clear. This resulted in many contests and countries to use takedowns and others to use the touch-rule. The international split on how points are scored has made the rules inconsistent from one competition to the next. Personally, I’ve always felt that scoring based on takedowns rather than the Sumo-touch was better for the entire sport of wrestling, since for many athletes and spectators, this style of wrestling is an introduction for other styles of wrestling. Other international styles do not use the touch rule, but takedowns, so it only makes sense to use a scoring method that carries over to these other international styles.
The other area of major contention is how pins were determined. Initially, a wrestler had to force their opponent’s shoulders to the sand for a pin. The flow of a Sand Wrestling match differs from mat wrestling, largely due to the lack of ground wrestling, and the rules were modified that a pin occurred when the back touched the sand rather than the shoulders (which, by the way, was the way pins were earned prior to the introduction of wrestling mats in the very early 1900’s). This left another rift from contest to contest, as some events still used the shoulder criteria for a pin, and others converted to the back pinfall. The updated rules no longer has pins, but rather allows a wrestler to score two points if their opponent’s back is exposed to the sand during a takedown. There is also the added incentive to bring your opponent to their back if the match is tied, as the scoring move would beat a wrestler who scored two points from a basic takedown and/or push-out.
I hope this explanation helps clarify the international rule changes. This is certainly a step in the right direction to get the original Olympic wrestling style back into the Olympic Games, but I’m curious on your thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment below, and I will try my best to address any questions that are asked in my next blog entry.
I’m a huge fan of video games, especially sports games. As much as I enjoy whooping some butt in baseball, basketball, and football, I have one sport missing from my video game collection. I don’t have any games based on wrestling. Sure, I have dozens of professional wrestling video games spanning multiple home consoles, but I don’t own any based on the sport of competitive international wrestling.
Wait a second, every sports fan is missing a video game based on competitive wrestling in their collection. Why? Because a wrestling game has never been made. Not even one. The video game industry has been around for over 40 years, and yet game developers have seemingly overlooked mankind’s oldest sport. Wrestling has never even been an Olympic-themed video game, including the more recent releases that were developed by 2k Sports and Sega.
Video game developers are in the business of making money, right? Wouldn’t it make sense for a video game company to capitalize on a sport that doesn’t have any other games competing against it? Even if the major gaming developers continue to pass up on this golden opportunity, why hasn’t a small-time developer attempted to make a wrestling game yet? Surely a smaller video game company can make a name for themselves if they help sports enthusiasts complete their library of sports-related video games.
Are we are missing something or has this truly just been an oversight by the video gaming community?
Perhaps the game developers have become too comfortable relying on the success of their current titles, pumping out a newer version each and every year. The Madden series by EA Sports, one of the most popular series of sporting games, typically sells more than 4 million copies of each game. Gamers in the United States are responsible for more than 90% of those sales. Shouldn’t a sport that is more popular around the world than NFL-style football, such as wrestling, sell more copies across the globe?
Yes, and it already does. The sales of EA Sports FIFA games consistently outsell the Madden games every year, based on worldwide sales. Gamers in the U.S. are only responsible for approximately 20% of those sales in the FIFA series. So the video gaming industry understands the importance of the global market.
With over 200 nations that offer competitive wrestling (evident by the fact that there are over 200 disciplines of “folk-style” wrestling, one for each nation), there is a worldwide market for a game featuring competitive wrestling. Wrestling is the number one sport in 6 counties, and one of the top 3 sports in another 23 countries (according to mostpopularsports.net). Add to that equation that wrestling is one of the top 10 sports in yet another 17 nations, and that brings the total number of countries in which wrestling is one of the most popular sports to 46, including the United States.
It may be unrealistic to make a game featuring every possible style of wrestling, but luckily we have the official international styles sanctioned by the United World Wrestling organization (UWW, formerly FILA) that brings the global wrestling community together. Focusing the gaming mechanics on freestyle, Greco-Roman and sand wrestling shouldn’t be difficult, as (in real life) most of the moves used in one style transitions well into the other styles. I’m not saying we should abandon the use of the more popular versions of folk-style wrestling (such as the scholastic style in the U.S.). Including those styles will increase the replay value of the game and allow for a better marketing plan directed at those countries, but promoting the main 3 versions of wrestling should be the logical approach to increase the chances of this type of game to be successful on a global scale.
Or perhaps another fishing game looks more appealing to video game developers than a wrestling game, despite that there are already 48 video games based on fishing.
Maybe it’s our own fault that there hasn’t yet been a wrestling game. An unfortunate truth is that most of us don’t go to a wrestling event unless we are wrestling or someone we know (like our kids) are competing. Developers don’t necessarily take a look at how many people compete in a sport, but how many spectators support a sport. Those figures can be very misleading for our sport, as it fails to take into account the number of wrestlers who retire before they hit their prime athletic years. Let’s be honest, most wrestlers retire after high school. Of those athletes that continue to wrestle, most of them retire after college. It doesn’t help that there is a lack of media and television coverage for wresting, but at least we have seen vast improvements in those areas in recent years.
Besides, what kind of statistics justifies the decision by video game developers to create a fishing video game? Ok, I’m going to lay off the fishing games. The purpose of this topic is to support the case for developers to finally deliver us a quality wrestling game, not to rip on another sport. After all, maybe I’m just fishing at the idea of a wrestling based game.
Instead, I’m going to alter the direction of this blog entry. How important is it for the wresting community to have a video game simulating the sport? For many young gamers and athletes, video games were their first introduction to sports. The NFL based games have done a wonderful job contributing the popularity of American football. It’s because of video games that I understand the rules to golf and tennis.
It’s great that the UWW has worked hard to improve wrestling’s image, but imagine how much easier it would be to accomplish that goal with a video game doing most of the work. A wrestling game would help teach people the rules of the sport, which could be an important tool in recruiting new athletes and spectators. Despite our best efforts, most of the general population just doesn’t understand how a wrestling match works. We may need this video game more that the gaming industry does, and it could prevent wrestling from possibly getting eliminated from the Olympic Games once again. If that ever happens, it will be nearly impossible to convince the IOC to keep wrestling in the Games.
Sure, developing video games can be an expensive risk from gaming companies, but there are ways to manage those risks. Crowdfunding sites have become a practical way for companies to generate initial capital for video games. I would imagine that securing a license from UWW is less expensive than the NFL, NBA, MLB, or FIFA. If UWW truly wants to expand their brand than I would strongly encourage them to even offer their logo, likeness and approval for free; it could pay huge dividends for them down the road. Star wrestlers from each country and style should also do the same, as it would help build their recognition status that could very well translate into more sponsorship and endorsement opportunities.
The time has never been better for a wrestling game to succeed than right now. We are still off the heels from the world uniting to keep wrestling in the Olympic Games, more coverage has been given to our sport, and even people who do not follow wrestling are getting excited for the release of the upcoming movie Foxcatcher. But we also need to help our own cause. Try to get out and watch a few more wrestling tournaments and dual meets. Get your butt to the theater and go see Foxcatcher. And if one is ever created and reasonable, support the crowdfunding effort for a wresting video game.
There is a very real possibility that a “UWW 16” game would outsell “Madden 16” globally. It isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that is could also outsell “FIFA 16” as well. For as long as we have been waiting for the very first wrestling game, it might have a chance to be the best selling sports video game of all time.
Well, maybe that’s a tough objective. After all Nintendo’s Wii Sports is the second best selling video game of all time, second only to Tetris. It’s improbable that a wrestling game might outsell any game that was bundled with a gaming system.
But it’s not impossible.