Cheerleading Safety

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 place.

  • 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.

Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Stacey Wojcik MBA BSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2023
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