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NCAA Rule Change Improves Weight Loss among National Championship Wrestlers

Oppliger, Robert A.1; Utter, Alan C.2; Scott, James R.3; Dick, Randall W.4; Klossner, David4

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2006 - Volume 38 - Issue 5 - p 963-970
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000218143.69719.b4
APPLIED SCIENCES: Physical Fitness and Performance

Purpose: The present investigation was initiated to examine the weight management practices among wrestlers participating in the NCAA Division I, II, and III wrestling tournaments. Part 1 examined the efficacy of body composition assessment between preseason (PRE) and postseason (POST). Part 2 examined rapid weight loss (RWL) during the 20 h preceding the weigh-in and the rapid weight gained (RWG) during the first day's competition.

Methods: Subjects include 811 competitors from Divisions I, II, and III participating in the NCAA national championship tournaments between 1999 and 2004. Measurements included relative body fatness (% BF) and weight (WT) on the day preceding the tournament and the evening of the first day. Minimal weight (MW) was computed with 5% BF. Retrospectively, MW, % BF, and WT from the previous fall were obtained for comparisons from NCAA records.

Results: Part 1: WT and % BF decreased significantly PRE (WT 74.0 ± 11.1 kg; % BF 12.3 ± 3.4%) to POST (WT 71.5 ± 10.4 kg; % BF 9.5 ± 1.8%), but MW (PRE MW 68.0 ± 9.2 kg, POST MW 67.9 ± 9.1 kg) remained unchanged. Heavier wrestlers and Division I and II wrestlers showed the greatest changes in WT and % BF. Part 2: RWL averaged (± SD) 1.2 ± 0.9 kg and relative to weight 1.7 ± 1.2%. Division I and lighter wrestlers showed the greatest change. RWG averaged 0.9 ± 0.8 kg, or 1.3 ± 1.2%. RWG was greater among lighter and Division I and II wrestlers.

Conclusions: Minimal weight estimates PRE appear valid compared with POST. RWL and RWG are reduced significantly over previous investigations with only mat-side weigh-ins. The NCAA weight management program appears effective in reducing unhealthy weight cutting behaviors and promoting competitive equity. Efforts to institute similar programs among younger wrestlers seem warranted.

1Iowa Wrestling Research, Iowa City, IA; 2Appalachian State University, Boone, NC; 3Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI; and 4National Collegiate Athletic Association, Indianapolis, IN

Address for correspondence: Robert A. Oppliger, Iowa Wrestling Research, 1928 Delwood Dr., Iowa City, IA 52240- 5911; E-mail:

Submitted for publication June 2005.

Accepted for publication September 2005.

©2006The American College of Sports Medicine