Is your child doing cartwheels at the thought of being a cheerleader? It's not just
a matter of standing on the sidelines looking good in a uniform. Today, it's often
an athletic activity with a risk for injury. Cheerleading now demands harder and harder
stunts, jumps, tumbling, and other activities.
Injuries linked to cheerleading may happen. Cheerleading has grown into a sport that
demands great strength, agility, and gymnastic skill.
Many injuries are minor sprains and strains, especially in the legs, ankles, and feet.
Some injuries affect the head and neck. Most cheerleading injuries happen during exercises
like pyramids, tosses, and gymnastic moves.
The number of cheerleading-related injuries in the U.S. has decreased over the last
few years. But the incidence of concussions and closed head injuries and hospital
admissions has gone up. Most concussions happen during practice. Almost half of the
reported concussions happen when the cheerleader does not have a spotter.
USA Cheer has given safety rules. A safe program has direct adult supervision, correct
conditioning, skills training, and warm-up exercises. Coaches should be trained in
risk management, as well as basic first aid and CPR/AED training. Concussion protocols
should always be followed. Athletes, coaches, and parents should be trained in athlete
protection. This includes understanding, preventing, recognizing, and reporting abuse
such as bullying, hazing, physical and emotional misconduct, and sexual abuse.
These are some general guidelines for cheerleaders:
Cheerleaders should have a health exam, including a complete health history, before
they are allowed to participate.
A qualified and knowledgeable coach must be on hand.
Practice sessions should be supervised. They should be held in a safe and fitting
Individual and squad ability levels should be carefully evaluated. Only stunts that
are right for those levels should be planned and done.
Participants should have good training in tumbling.
Mandatory professional training in correct spotting methods must be held.
Participants should take part in a complete conditioning and strength-building program.
No jewelry should be worn.
Structured stretching exercises and flexibility and warm-up routines should be held
before and after practice sessions, game activities, competitions, and pep rallies.
Only the right surfaces should be used for tumbling, stunts, pyramids, and jumps.
Cheerleaders' skills should be evaluated based on accepted teaching standards. Correct
spotting should be used until all cheerleaders show that they have mastered the skills.
Hard and unbending supports or rough edges or surfaces must be correctly covered.
Cheerleading shoes must be worn.
Props, like signs, should be made of solid material with no sharp edges or corners.
All signs should be gently tossed or kept under control.