NCWC Parent Guide - Tournament Information

Tournaments are optional. Wrestlers can participate in any or no tournaments as they wish. Tournament fees vary with each event (usually around $20-25, but sometimes more than that), and should be given to the coaches in cash on the morning of the tournament.

Tournaments are organized by age, gender, and weight. Weight classes vary depending on the tournament; high school age groups will sometimes use OAWA weight classes and sometimes use OFSAA weight classes. It is best to check weight classes on a tournament-by-tournament basis. Weights will be checked at practices during the week before the tournament.

Difficulty levels of tournaments vary, and it is best to talk to coaches about whether a wrestler is developmentally ready for a particular tournament.

Age Groups

Age groups are based on birth year and not grades, but as a general guide (exceptions, of course, will be kids who were not born in the same year as other kids in their class), they are as follows:

  1. Tyke: grades 1, 2
  2. Novice: grades 3, 4
  3. Kid: grades 5, 6
  4. Bantam: grades 7, 8
  5. Cadet: grades 9, 10
  6. Juvenile: grades 11, 12
  7. Junior: first two years after high school
  8. Senior: everyone older than junior

Most tournaments are aimed at either the age groups older than high school (junior/senior), the age groups in high school (cadet/juvenile), or the age groups younger than high school (tyke/novice/kid/bantam). Some tournaments will run more sets of age groups than that (ie. a tournament may have high school age groups on a couple of mats and younger age groups on a couple more). It is not uncommon for a tournament to combine wrestlers from different age or weight groups into one category if there are not enough wrestlers around that age and size.


There are three types of tournaments in terms of weigh-ins: honour system, full weigh-ins, and red dots.

If it is an honour system tournament, your coach sends in the weights earlier in the week (according to weigh-ins done at practice), and no one weighs in on-site.

If a tournament has full weigh-ins (this usually occurs at provincial and national championships), weigh-ins may be the morning of the tournament or the night before. Your child should be at the weigh-in location before the time when the weigh-ins are scheduled to start, wearing their singlet. They will join the lines in front of the scale and step on the scale wearing only their singlet.

If it is a tournament with red dots, the coach sends in the weights earlier in the week (according to weigh-ins done at practice), but a certain number of wrestlers from each team are randomly selected to weigh in on-site. Coaches will find out who on the team has been red dotted, and inform the wrestlers who have to weigh in. Those wrestlers will step on a scale, and have to be close to the weight they sent in earlier that week (usually within a kilogram). If they fail to make weight, they forfeit the tournament than their whole team will have to weigh in, with wrestlers who do not make weight also forfeiting the tournament.

Before the Tournament

Athletes will weigh in with a coach at the end of practice during the week before the tournament. The coach will register each wrestler for the tournament in the category that matches the weight at which they weighed in.

Before the tournament, pack a bag. Ensure you have a singlet, wrestling shoes, water bottle, healthy snacks, and shampoo/soap. It is also a good idea to have a t-shirt or sweater and track pants or shorts (as the wrestler will want to be able to warm up in the clothes they bring), extra hair ties if hair is long, and other equipment (knee pads, head gear, etc.) if normally worn.

Day of the Tournament

Arrive an hour before the tournament is scheduled to start (there are exceptions to this; for example, if there are weigh-ins the morning of the tournament, wrestlers will have to arrive before weigh-ins start).

Plan to be there all day. Food will sometimes be available for purchase, but this is not always the case. Bring plenty of healthy food to snack on lightly throughout the day, avoiding big meals.

Upon arrival at the tournament, wrestlers should change into their singlets with shirts and pants or shorts over top. Pants or shorts should be loose enough to be taken off easily over wrestling shoes.

Wrestlers should wear only their singlets to do skin checks at the beginning of the tournament. Once that is done, wrestlers can put on clothes over their singlets and use the open mats to warm up until the tournament starts.

Wrestlers should find their draw sheet as early as possible; these will be posted on the wall somewhere (there is one sheet for every category). Coaches can help wrestlers and parents read the draw sheet if they do not know how to do that. The draw sheet tells you what mat a wrestler is on, and what their match numbers are. It also tells wrestlers what colour singlet to wear. If their name appears above their opponent's name, they should wrestle in red. If it appears below their opponent's name, they should wrestle in blue.

Find the mat that corresponds to the number on the draw sheet. Several matches before a wrestler's first match, they should find a spot near the mat and stay warm to be prepared. When their number comes up, the wrestler should remove all clothes worn over the singlet before stepping onto the mat. At the end of the match, wrestlers shake hands with the referee and each other. The winning wrestler gets their arm raised, and then both wrestlers shake hands with opposing coaches before returning to their own corners.

Throughout the day, wrestlers should remain well hydrated and eat strategically to avoid having food within the half hour before each match.

Coaches, wrestlers, and referees are the only people who are allowed on the mat during a match. Some tournaments allow parents to cheer from the sidelines (which should be done in a polite and unobstructive manner), while others require parents to stay in the stands.

At the end of the tournament, it is recommended that wrestlers shower with any anti-fungal shampoo/soap as soon as possible, preferably before leaving the event (most tournament venues provide showers).

Tournament Rules

Tournaments in Canada almost exclusively follow Olympic Freestyle wrestling rules (there are some exceptions, such as the Greco-Roman division at the National Championships).

The rules and length of a match are determined by its age category. For wrestlers in the cadet age group and younger, and for all wrestlers (including those older than cadet) at tournaments that use OFSAA rules, matches consist of two 2-minute rounds. For juvenile wrestlers and older ones, matches consist of two 3-minute rounds. Breaks between rounds are approximately thirty seconds.

The winner of the match is the wrestler who has the most points at the end of both rounds, unless the match ends early. There are two situations in which the match can end early. The first is that if either wrestler is ever winning by ten or more points, the match will end immediately and the wrestler who is ahead will be declared the winner (called a tech). The second is that if either wrestler is able to pin both their opponent's shoulder blades to the mat at the same time, the match will end immediately and the wrestler on top will win (called a pin).

How to Score Points

4-point takedown (4 points): The offensive wrestler takes their opponent directly from their feet to their back and maintains control on the ground.

2-point takedown (2 points): The offensive wrestler takes their opponent from their feet to the ground (three out of four knees and hands touching), and gets behind their opponent in a control position.

Roll/tilt (2 points): The offensive wrestler rolls their opponent from their stomach toward their back, and maintains control while their opponent's back is exposed to the mat by more than 90 degrees.

Step out (1 point): A wrestler is awarded a point if their opponent steps out of the ring due to meaningful action (they can’t be pushed out directly, but an attack could be set up that causes them to step out).

Reversal (1 point): A wrestler is awarded a point if they are able to go from being on the bottom in the ground position to ending up on top, gaining control of their opponent.

Cautions (1 point): The referee has some discretion, and can give wrestlers warnings or instructions. If a wrestler ignores these warnings, they will be cautioned, which will cause their opponent to get a point. The most common reasons for warnings are for passivity or negative wrestling.

A wrestler will be warned for passivity if they shut down action, back up, intentionally step out of bounds, and/or refuse to engage or try to attack. If they ignore repeated warnings, they will be put on a shot clock, which requires them to score within thirty seconds. If they do not score, they will be cautioned. Once they have been cautioned for passivity once, they can be cautioned for it again with no shot clock.

A wrestler may be warned, and then cautioned, for negative wrestling if they engage in illegal action, such as eye pokes or finger grabbing.

There are some situations in which a wrestler can be cautioned in a way that gives their opponent two points, such as if the wrestler is on their back when they force their way out of bounds.