CDC Releases New Concussion Safety App

The CDC Heads Up initiative has released a new concussion safety app, available for download. Designed for parents and coaches, the HEADS UP Concussion and Helmet Safety app provides instant access to concussion safety info—when and where you need it—so you can:

  • Spot a possible concussion.
  • Respond if you think an athlete has a concussion or other serious brain injury.
  • Help an athlete return to school and play safely.

Featuring: A new 3D helmet fit feature that teaches about proper helmet fit, safety and care.

For more information, visit: CDC Heads Up New Concussion Safety App

By |July 13th, 2015|Newsroom

Strong wrists for cheerleading stunts

By Jaimie Doherty MSEd, ATC, NREMT-b, CKTP

During my career working with cheerleaders, I see a lot of bases that believe taping their wrist makes their wrists stronger.  But it’s actually doing the opposite. Taping your wrists is like putting a cast on them, and when someone has a cast on, their muscles are restricted from movement, making the muscles not have to work. Therefore, you end up losing muscle mass and strength, resulting in having to rely on tape to hold your stunt.

So instead of reaching for the tape (unless you have an new injury), think about these ways you can make your wrists stronger.

  • Start sitting in a chair with your forearm flat on the table, with your hand in a loose fist. These next exercises are going to be repeated for all range of motion of the wrist. Try to do 3 sets of 10 repetitions.  Remember, some people may need to start with fewer repetitions if they are getting sore in their forearms.  The strength that everyone starts with is different, so listen to your body.  You will perform these exercises with one wrist at a time.
    • Start with palm facing down, hand is loose fist. The first motion you are going to work is wrist extension. Without moving your forearm, you are going to extend or lift your hand towards the ceiling.  Then bring your hand back down towards the floor.  This is one repetition.
    • The next motion you are going to work is ulnar deviation. Rotate your arm so your pinky is facing the ceiling, hand still in loose fist. The side of your forearm still on the table. Without moving your forearm, you are going to lift your hand with the pinky […]
By |April 7th, 2015|Safety

National Cheerleading Safety Month Resolution Introduced in the House Of Representatives   

Leaders in cheerleading safety recognized in Congressional resolution to recognize March as National Cheerleading Safety Month.

Memphis, Tenn., March 31, 2015 – On March 26, Representative Marc Veasey of Texas introduced HR Resolution 175, supporting the designation of March as National Cheerleading Safety Month. USA Cheer, along with several partner organizations, was cited in the resolution for its accomplishments in efforts to reduce cheerleading injuries. 

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By |April 1st, 2015|Newsroom, Safety

Creating a Cheerleading Emergency Action Plan (EAP)

by Shannon David, PhD, ATC, LAT

One of the best preventative measures that can be taken to ensure athlete safety is to be prepared. Developing a well thought out emergency action plan is a critical component to the survival of both athletes and spectators. The purpose of an emergency action plan is to maintain cardiovascular function (Prentice, 2014). In addition, the staff needs to consider the safest method of removing the athlete from the field of play, as well as, the urgency of which the patient is referred (Starkey, 2010). Each of these tasks can be accomplished efficiently when everyone involved knows their role and responsibilities when emergency strikes.

Any facility that hosts events or practices to athletes should have a written Emergency Action Plan (EAP) prepared. Here are a few tips for key points that should be included in your Emergency Action Plan. The first tip is to keep in mind is communication. Establish an effective mode to contact EMS. If the cheerleaders are at a Friday night football game, chances are the EMS will be on site but if they are not what phone will be used to contact them? In a world full of technology, most will choose to use a cell phone. It is important to make sure that the cell phone has service in that area and that it is fully charged. It is never a bad idea to have backup or a landline in case. It is not uncommon for landlines to have need a code to call out, so be sure you know in advance if you need to press “9” then the phone number for example. The next big question is, “Who is going to call 911?”

Each person […]

By |March 30th, 2015|Safety

Safety First: A Parent’s Guide to Cheerleading Safety

Safety First!

Is your child part of a safe cheerleading program? 

By Karen M. Lew

Are you sure your child is enrolled in the appropriate cheerleading program? How do you know if your child is being taught by qualified individuals? Is the gym actively involved in reducing injuries, providing a positive yet competitive environment and – most importantly – are they committed to the ongoing safety of your child?

If you have some doubts or have not done the necessary research to assure your child is safe, now is the time to do it.

Over the past several years cheerleading has changed, becoming more skill oriented, competitive and focused on talent, but one thing that has not changed is the need for the program to have value to your child and provide a safe environment.

In order to keep your child safe, take the time to review your child’s coaches, team and gym.

Direct supervision and practicing with a coach present is a must. Injuries often occur when cheerleaders are not being properly supervised or begin attempting skills without following the correct progression.

Follow these safety tips, recommended by the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators (AACCA), to help keep your cheerleaders safe:

  • Required safety training for all coaches, including Sports First Aid, CPR and AED training.
  • Access to certified athletic trainers to assist with injury prevention and emergency procedures.
  • Adherence to recognized safety rules such as the AACCA, NFHS or U.S. All-Star Federation Rules.
  • Regulation by state school athletics/activities associations to require adherence to rules and safety training regardless of whether cheerleading is designated as a “sport” or “activity.”
  • Recognition by coaches, cheerleaders and parents that the use of skill progressions and the demonstrated ability to safely perform basic skills before advancing is the key […]
By |March 23rd, 2015|Safety

Fueling for a Safe Cheerleading Performance

By Karen M. Lew, MEd., ATC, LAT

Are you or your team preparing for competition season?  As you begin the preparation, be sure to include a plan for appropriate nutrition.  The nutritional habits of a cheerleader can make or break their performance.  Nutrition and strength and conditioning work together to help the athlete become well rounded.  In today’s society, eating appropriately is difficult but I refer to the body as a brand new car.  When you purchase a brand new car that requires high octane gas, you will not put diesel in it.  It is the same thing for an athlete preparing for a competition or performance.  The optimal diet would be to eliminate any fast food, foods that are high in fat, junk food, or food that does not offer nutritious value.  The best philosophy to use is moderation and regardless of your situation and surroundings, it is making wise decisions that make a difference.

Athletes are often busy and on the run.  Just as you plan out practices, strength and conditioning, I encourage all athletes to plan out their diet in advance.  Optimizing athletic performance using proper nutrition is essential.  According to Tavis Piatoly, RD, nutrition can be an athlete’s secret weapon by following four simple tips:

  • Develop a habit of eating frequently and planning out snacks and meals.
  • The slogan “Breakfast of Champions” is not a joke; breakfast is the basis of your day and the fuel you need to get your day started. Make time for a healthy breakfast, since your body has typically been without food for 10 or more hours and needs some energy to get going.  If you skip breakfast, it increases your chances of overeating later in the day. Planning […]
By |March 17th, 2015|Safety

Building on Balance: Ankle Stability

Ankle stability is important for all athletes, especially top girls. To be able to stand with one foot on the ground is one thing. But to be able to hold a stunt in the air by a partner/partners takes balancing to a whole new level. Building up the neuromuscular strength in your ankle is key.

Start by taking these small steps to improve single leg balance. You can start by standing on one leg while brushing your teeth or hair. Brushing your teeth and hair is something we all do at least once or twice a day and will also not take any more time out of your day. Try holding for 15-20 seconds, building on this simple balance task. Once you have mastered it the next step would be to balance on one leg while standing on a folded towel or pillow, creating an uneven surface. Once that step is mastered, try balancing with your eyes closed, on solid ground first. Then moving to an uneven surface with eyes closed. But always remember safety first if you ever feel like you are going to fall, stop, open your eyes, put your opposite foot down and regain control of your balance.

As we all know a goal of a top girl is to be able to do a series of stunts while in the air. There are a few ways to take balancing to the next level:

• Single leg ball pick ups- this helps if you have a prop like a small ball, pen or 5lb weight to pick up off the ground. To start stand on one foot, with prop slightly in front of you on the ground. You are going to bend at the hips […]

By |March 10th, 2015|Safety

NFHS Releases Cheerleading Rules for 2014-2015

Summer is at its midpoint, and most cheerleading coaches are either prepping for camp or reviewing their materials from a recent camp. Cheer camps offer a fresh start for newly formed teams, as new teammates and veteran squad members learn and perfect skills and sidelines. At most camps, attendees attend a Safety Awareness course, which emphasizes the importance of cheerleading safety and adherence to all safety rules.

It’s also the perfect time for school cheerleading coaches and administrators to order their copies of the National Federation of State High School Associations 2014-2015 Spirit Rules Book which has just been released. The rules book, which can be ordered online, outlines the new cheerleading rules for 2014, addressing everything from transitions to partner stunts and dismounts. In addition to the most up to date rules, coaches will find passages on Education, Minimizing Risk, Concussions, and Overuse Injuries.

Order yours:

The NFHS website also offers information on how to keep cheerleaders safe, including a number of training and education resources. Online resources include the NFHS Coach Education courses, Cheer and Dance: Fundamentals of Coaching Cheer and Dance and AACCA Spirit Safety Certification, available at

The NFHS is part of a coalition of national, regional and state organizations that are committed to improving cheerleading safety by increasing awareness throughout the extended cheerleading community.



By |July 3rd, 2014|Safety

USA Cheer Participates in White House’s Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit

Memphis, Tenn., May 29, 2014 – USA Cheer President Bill Seely participated in today’s Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit, joining President Obama to discuss sports safety and concussions. The event featured young athletes, parents and coaches, as well as professional sports stars and military service members convening to discuss ways to prevent and treat concussions and encourage research into sports-related head injuries.

“USA Cheer is proud to join with the White House and leading sports stakeholders to build a blueprint to make sports safe for young athletes across the country. We applaud President Obama’s commitment to help ensure that children continue to be active and play sports safely,” Seely said.

The cheerleading community’s efforts, led by USA Cheer, have contributed to a documented decrease in catastrophic injuries among cheerleading athletes. One such change, the removal of a dismount known as the “double down,” reversed a trend of increasing concussion rates. Currently, the cheerleading concussion rate is 42% lower than the overall concussion rate of all sports.

As part of the summit, the White House announced new steps by both the private and public sectors to inform the public on prevention and treatment of concussions.

“Today’s event provides the sports community with a great opportunity to come together and participate in a national conversation that impacts the lives of all athletes. We’re happy to be a part of the dialogue and continue our commitment to making cheerleading as safe as possible,” said Bill Seely.

USA Cheer has made great strides over the last several years in significantly reducing injuries, making it one of the safest athletic activities for young people. The organization works to educate parents, cheerleaders and coaches on cheerleading safety at every level.

USA Cheer is also releasing its […]

By |May 29th, 2014|Safety

2014-15 Spirit Rules Focus on Minimizing Risk For Cheer Safety

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Spirit Rules Committee adjusted several rules with the goal of minimizing risk and increasing creativity during its March 8-10 meeting in Indianapolis. The recommended rules changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

The committee approved the conditions for performing an inverted stunt during partner stunts and pyramids. According to Rule 2-5-2, the base person must keep contact with the top person enough to stabilize the top person. An exception to this is that an inverted top person in a handstand on the ground can be released to a loading person below shoulder height.

In addition, according to Rule 2-5-2b, inverted partner stunts must begin and end below an extended position and can be performed by passing through an extended position without pausing or stopping. Previously, the base person was not allowed to extend arms to perform an inverted stunt.

“Inversions have become a common element in cheerleading. The changes to Rule 2-5-2 will reduce confusion among coaches, interpreters and judges,” said Kent Summers, NFHS director of performing arts and sports and liaison to the Spirit Rules Committee. “The committee wants to promote better technique in performing and teaching the stunts, which can allow greater creativity without adding undue risk to participants.”

The information included in Rule 2-5-3, involving suspended rolls, was incorporated into Article 2 and will follow the same rules as other inverted partner stunts. To reduce the risk to performers, single-based suspended rolls require a spotter to aid in the transfer of the top person. Now, the new catcher must be in place and not involved in any other skill when the suspended roll is initiated.

Another rule change approved by the committee restricts an […]