2012-13 College Cheerleading Rules Updated

The 2012-13 AACCA College Cheerleading Safety Rules have been updated to remove a newly-developed skill and to clarify the type of tower pyramid that requires an additional non-contact spotter.

Change 1: Prohibits the “no-hands” handspring entry

The wording “or leave the floor unassisted” was added to rule C-2 in order to prohibit the “no-handed back handspring entry” for stunts.  This skill involves the top person performing a back handspring type of entry, but with her arms extended to her side instead of landing on the performing surface. The base catches the top person in this inverted position at the waist prior to loading her into another stunt. The obvious concern on this type of entry is that failure of one person – the base – would lead to a direct impact of the top person on their head, neck and shoulders.  This change is consistent with the existing rule that prohibits the full release of a top person to an inverted position.

Note that this rule change does allow a spotter to be in contact with the top person when she leaves the floor and until the base has contact with her.

This rule change does not affect most “no-hands” front handspring entries as the top person bends over and the base is in contact with her waist prior to the feet leaving the ground.  That would be leaving the ground while being assisted, and therefore is legal. However, if the top person left the ground before there was any assistance by a base or spotter, it would be illegal.

Change 2: “Tower” pyramid clarification

The initial rule E-3 requires that an additional spotter who is not in contact with the pyramid must be placed behind “tower” pyramids.  The intent […]

By |February 6th, 2013|Safety

You Are Your Sister’s Keeper

When it comes to cheerleading, one often-repeated mantra is that safety is everyone’s responsibility. This usually is seen as the coaches being responsible for their actions and cheerleaders being responsible for their actions, but it really is much more than that.

Having the responsibility for safety shared by everyone means that each of us is invested in one another’s wellbeing. After all, we aren’t always the best judge of our own abilities or limitations.

Situation #1: Imagine you see a teammate working on standing tumbling. It’s late in the day. She just came from soccer practice with you two hours ago and you know it was a grueling outdoor session that left you both physically drained. She wants to please the coach and push herself by working on her back tucks, but you can tell she is just a few attempts away from possibly landing on her head. You want to say something, but you know she won’t listen. What do you do?

Situation #2: Consider another scenario. Your back spot just got hit in the face with an elbow during a twisting dismount. The coach couldn’t see it, and your teammate says she’s fine. You know that it was a pretty good hit; on the next attempt, she is clearly disoriented and says, “What are we doing again?” You’ve taken the free online concussion course and you also know that if she just sustained a concussion, a second one could be life threatening. What do you do?


FIRST, FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS. If you think you should say something, then say something. Three tries from now may be too late, and you’ll regret not speaking up when it would have made a difference.

By |January 31st, 2013|Safety

There’s Nothing “Routine” About Safety

It’s that time of the year when some teams are preparing their routines for homecoming or competition, or even just filming skills videos for college competition. Here are a few tips and reminders about “routine” safety:

  • It goes without saying to follow the rules. If you question a skill your team is working on, contact the organization running the event to make sure the skill is legal. If they have a question about the interpretation, they will contact us, the NFHS or the USASF depending on the rules being used.
  • Only include routine elements that are solid. Not only is it a safety issue, but you will gain more points (with the crowd or judges) by having solid stunts that don’t fall vs. harder stunts that are shaky or that fall. Having solid stunts in the routine also allows your team members to show confidence, which is always a plus!
  • One of the great things about routines is that you can choreograph to your individual team skills. If the entire team doesn’t have a particular tumbling skill, showcase those that do while having the others perform complimentary skills or have them prepared to immediately follow the tumbling with some solid stunts in the back of the routine.
  • Put the routine together in blocks or sections. Learn each part and practice it on its own before combining them into the full routine. You should also have a “run through” version of the routine that doesn’t include actually building some of the more difficult elements of the routine. This will allow your team to work on formations and the flow of the routine with more repetitions.
  • As much as possible, utilize the skills you are already using for games or that […]
By |October 25th, 2012|Safety

Back to School Safety Check

“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


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.


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.


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.


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.


The reason you can probably walk to your classroom blindfolded at the end of the school […]

By |August 1st, 2012|Safety

Taking Out Double Downs

Taking Out Double Downs by Jim Lord, Executive Director, AACCA

When the 2012-13 high school cheerleading rules were released, we knew people were going to be upset. Regardless of the new skills we were now allowing, we knew the main focus was going to be on the removal of what is widely recognized as the pinnacle skill available to high school cheerleaders – the double down. Many, especially those programs and athletes who have worked very hard to achieve this skill, questioned why we removed it. To get to that point, I will need to back up just a bit.

Earlier in the year, the rules committees for the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) and the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators (AACCA) held a conference committee to look at areas where we could more closely align our two sets of rules.

It was a great opportunity to share each group’s concerns about particular types of skills and decide where we could find common ground. I was pleasantly surprised that much of the conversation centered around what rules restrictions were obsolete; were we holding on to restrictions just because we had always had the rule, or was there evidence that a particular skill or type of skill was unsafe? It was this conversation that led to the rules changes that now allow all low-level inversions and braced rolls/flips with specific controls on them.

As is our responsibility, we also looked at whether or not there were trends or concerns that needed to be addressed by a rules change. The topic of double downs came up, as it has for several years. Both rules committees have seen a trend towards the performance of more double downs but without […]

By |April 8th, 2012|Safety