“Back to School” means new clothes, new friends and new routines—cheer routines and daily routines

One of those new “routines” should be a “routine” safety checklist as you begin your new cheer season.back-to-school

-EMERGENCY PLAN

The most important routine you will ever learn is your Emergency Action Plan (EAP). We all work hard to keep cheerleading safe, but accidents and even non-cheer medical emergencies like heart failure can happen at any time. Be prepared for these by developing and regularly practicing your EAP.

-KNOWLEDGEABLE COACH

Coaches need to be up to date on the latest rules and teaching techniques. Rules change annually, and new skills are developed along with those changes. Coaches should be trained in basic first aid and CPR as well as how to operate an AED if available.

-BASELINE CONCUSSION TESTING

If your school has the other athletes baseline tested, get involved and join up. If they do not, try to find a local resource that can get your team tested. These tests are used to determine whether an athlete who has suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) has fully healed and is truly ready to return to participation. Failure to recognize a brain injury and having a subsequent concussion can have catastrophic results, including a higher risk of death.

-ENVIRONMENT

Be sure that the area where you are practicing or performing is level, dry and free from obstructions. Stunting and tumbling practices shouldn’t be held in places like a cafeteria or hallway without the use of mats. If you are concerned that there is not enough room or enough ceiling height, speak up and modify the activity or change the environment.

– REPETITION AND PROGRESSION

The reason you can probably walk to your classroom blindfolded at the end of the school year is because you’ve done it over and over and over. The same is true with cheerleading skills. When you practice the same skill over and over and over, you develop a memory of movement that makes that skill safer. Once you have “mastered” that skill, you can move up to the next one. Studies have shown that cheerleading head injury rates are higher in practice than in games or competition. Take more time with the earlier skills and further develop body awareness and technique to minimize the risk of injury.

– GENERAL GOOD HEALTH

A routine is only as good as its parts and so is a team. When you come to practice in good physical shape, mentally prepared and focused, well-rested and with enough nutritional energy to sustain a good work- out, the entire team gets better. General good health minimizes the little errors that can result in falls or cause a misstep that keeps a spotter from getting to the right position in time.