Coach Protocol

Many coaches wonder what the protocol is at various levels in Canada. To simplify matters, we will provide the following guideline. Please bear in mind that strict adherence to certain protocol is necessary at certain events, while they are more relaxed at others. Simply put: the higher profile the event, the more formal the requirements.

Regional Events (The Basics)

Regional events are the lowest profile events we host. There are seldom requirements for dress code for the coaches, athletes may or may not be required to possess singlets and/or wrestling boots. The referees are these events may have little experience and may also need assistance  in their calls and their understanding of protocol. Ideally, coaches should dress in athletic clothing. A collared shirt or team t-shirt are more than acceptable with track pants or jogging pants. Athletes will need athletic runners, but not necessarily wrestling boots. Mouthguards are required at all age categories over the age of 12. Athletes are allowed water in the corner during the 30 second break if this is bantam or higher-aged category (13 years old and higher). While jeans are typically discouraged, there is room for everyone at regional events. Just remember that you are coaching someone’s children and that they would expect everyone to put their best foot forward.

When at the tournament, if you have any questions for the official on the mat, please tread lightly. Officials at this stage are new and unsure how to provide explanation or what they saw in an articulate manner. If you are confrontational in any way, you will disrupt their confidence, making them less effective as referees. If you disagree with a call and you can provide the official with a technical explanation as to why you believe a call is made one way, you can approach the official and see if they agree. If they do not agree, do not argue, as they are still learning how to apply the rules. While it is not common practice to allow coaches to step on to the mat, if there are situations of extreme danger to the athletes, the coach can intervene when the official has failed to recognize it.

If a coach has a serious concern with the performance of an official, they are responsible to address the head official or the most senior official at the tournament. Please do so with discretion, as the head official may be overwhelmed helping new referees at regional events.

If you are hosting a regional event, having snacks in the coaches room is a courtesy that is typically extended by all event hosts. This ensures the coaches can get a quick bite between matches and the officials have something to drink and/or eat during a quick break. These usually consist of veggie trays, sandwiches, cookies, coffee, juice and the like. If you are hosting the tournament, you are responsible to provide the tournament information, concerning tournament format and costs.

Large Events

Larger events are where coaches usually start learning protocol in a more defined manner. Coaches will be best suited to wear team athletic gear, such as a track suit. If you do not have a team track suit, a collared shirt and slacks is acceptable. Shorts and jeans are not permitted in the rulebook and can therefore be grounds to be asked to leave. While some officials are more diligent than others, it can become an issue. To avoid this issue, avoid jeans and shorts. Athletes may be required to have singlets and/ore wrestling boots at this stage. Some tournaments may have beginner divisions where uniform is not strictly enforced. You can always contact the tournament host and ask them what other athletes are wearing at this stage. Many schools will have a school-team singlet. This is encouraged as it gets athletes used to the uniform and it also shows what school they represent.

Officials, at this stage, may be more experienced. If you have a question or require an interpretation, wait until there is an appropriate break. Hold your hand up so that the official knows you have a question. The official will stop the match as soon as there is an appropriate break and provide one to you. Officials may have some difficulty explaining the situation they just saw, but they should have a clearer understanding of the rules. Questioning things like out-of-bounds or other technical criteria is fine. If your athlete was called pinned and you don’t believe both shoulders were down, please give the official the benefit of the doubt. Officials may be expected to referee hundreds of bouts with few breaks. If you are deeply concerned about the conduct of a referee, please talk to the head official or the most senior official readily available.


At this stage, officials may use cards as a corrective measure for poor sportsmanship or abuse. If an official shows you a yellow card, this is a warning that your behaviour is out-of-line. If you are unsure why you have been issued a yellow card, ask the mat chair after the match is done. A red card is for a serious infraction of behaviour. If you swear at the referee, threaten another coach, athlete or referee, or act in a manner that puts wrestling in a negative light, you will be shown a red card. A red card means you must leave the competition area and sit in the stands. One you have been red-carded, you may approach the head official and explain your position. Only the head official may permit you back into the tournament, but is not required to do so. If your behaviour has been severe enough, there may also be an incident report sent to either the provincial or national body.

Provincial Events & Qualifiers

There are several events in which we have a high decorum protocol. These tournaments are typically qualifiers for larger events, such as the Canada Summer Games, Western Canada Summer Games and the Provincial Championships. If you have aspirations of attending these tournaments, ensure your athletes are prepared for the event they will be attending by the time they are at the qualifier. If you are at a zone championship to qualify for ASAA Provincials, make sure your athletes have everything they need by the zone qualifier. These would include a mouthguard, singlet and wrestling boots. If you have a school-coloured singlet, it is acceptable for any school events, such as the provincials, rural provincials and cities.  Decorum at these events will be strict. Coaches will have to wear their team track suit (either club or school), as well as appropriate shoes. Coaches in jeans, or other inappropriate attire, will be asked to leave the corner.

At the qualifiers, there may be less opportunity for discussion with officials, as there are typically less officials available at these tournaments. At the provincial championships, however, a full allotment will be made available and several nationally accredited officials with a minimum of two national officials per mat will be present. This means they will be very familiar with the formal protocol and can be of assistance. If there is a question, hold up your hand and wait for the mat chairman to recognize you. The mat chairman will be the official sitting by the clock at the head table. Please do not approach the other two officials, as they are responsible to direct you to the mat chairman.

Once you have been invited by the mat chairman, go and explain what you saw in concise terms. Conversations that begin with “C’mon guys,” are typically not well-received. If you disagree with a judgement call, there may be little recourse for things like cautions for brutality or fleeing. Technical elements, such as time on the clock, stepping out of bounds and who initiated a technique are better examples of contestable items. State clearly, “I saw blue pick up red and put him to their back. I think that should be four points instead of two.” If you are quick and concise, it allows the team to make a decision quickly. If you don’t agree with the final outcome, there may be a protest procedure. Check with the head official if that applies. Outbursts at these events may results in cards.

National Championships

The decorum is very high for coaches and officials at this event. At this point, all coaches and officials have been active for several years and both have had extensive training to attend these events. It is important for officials and coaches to maintain respect for one another at these events. Dress code will be enforced for both referees and coaches. Only attire as outlined in the Wrestling Canada Lutte rulebook will be accepted. Team singlets will not be permitted, unless they meet the criteria for singlets, and coaches must inform their athletes to be prepared. Officials will be strict, so please ensure that you and your athletes are prepared well in advance.

At the national championships, there may be either a protest procedure or mat-side video review. The protest procedure and mat-side review processes will be outlined in the Wrestling Canada Lutte rulebook. Please refer to this whenever you have a question, or ask a senior coach or official. Please bear in mind that any tournament with a protest procedure will have a fee associated with each protest.  Typically, the protest fee is $200.If you do not win the protest, the fee is kept and donated to the appropriate official’s association.