Communicating for Cheer Safety

An old line of thinking used to state that “the coach is always right.” As amazing as most coaches are, they are also human, and can make mistakes. These mistakes can range from actual willful negligence in the worst cases, to the more common mistake of overestimating an athlete’s ability level, whether physical or mental.

In order to help foster a program that is based in safe practices, coaches should be willing to open up lines of communication and even take constructive criticism themselves.

From the very beginning, as teams are in the selection process, coaches should communicate to cheerleaders and parents about how the program is structured, what is to be expected, and how to bring issues to their attention. These issues can range from other cheerleaders that may be participating in destructive or unsafe behavior to possible violations of safety rules to expressing fear of a particular skill. None of these infer that a coach is not in charge of their program. In fact, quite the opposite is true; a coach cannot be in charge of her program if she is not aware of everything that is going on in it.

Consider a situation where a coach may have joined a program from a college coed background, and is not working with a high school coed team. She may have been hired with the specific directive from the school that they want the high school program to mimic what they saw in her college program. Further, there may be a long history of this high school program performing college level skills. If the coach does not properly educate herself on the different safety rules allowed for high school programs, it could result in a preventable injury […]

By |March 23rd, 2018|Newsroom, Safety

Staying Up To Date on Safety Rules

Being a knowledgeable coach is imperative to running a safe program. It is important that coaches stay up to date not only on the safety rules, but on the standard of care for coaching athletes and for supervising young people.

Years ago, we didn’t use seatbelts; now they are the standard. Cars didn’t all come with airbags; now they do.  Right now, the standard may be for driver and passenger airbags; the future may bring changes that make rear-seat and side airbags the new standard. Likewise, the way cheerleading programs were run thirty years ago no longer would meet the standard for today and today’s standards may not be acceptable five years from now.

Just in the last decade, there have been many changes in how we look at head injury, recovery from exercise, and stretching.

Coaches should stay involved in coaches’ associations and attend local and national conferences. There, they will learn the most recent standards of care with regard to training, rules, and even medical care.  Conferences will gather those who are experts in their fields in order to spread information to those who are directly involved in supervising the cheer program.

In some cases, especially with regard to new rules, updates may come after conference dates have passed. The new cheerleading rules often come out in early April. Coaches at these conferences should take advantage of the online rules training available in order to be knowledgeable about any changes.

Outside of conferences, camps can offer an excellent opportunity for professional growth. While cheerleaders are learning cheer and dances, camp organizations may offer more detailed views of new skills, as well as training on how to best run programs.

Coaches should also take the time to interact with […]

By |March 16th, 2018|Newsroom, Safety

Crawl, Sit, Stand, Walk, Run, Sprint!

If cheerleading safety can be summarized into one concept, it’s this; skills shouldn’t be attempted before they are ready to be attempted.

While that sounds obvious and oversimplified, failure to follow proper skill progressions is perhaps the number one cause of avoidable injury. Imagine holding a baby in a standing position before it’s ever crawled. Not only can you not expect it to stand, if you let go, you know it’s going to fall! While we can encourage babies to stand and walk, and even help them to do so, we know there is a progression they have to go through that can’t be skipped. Athletic skills like cheerleading are no different. Every team’s safety program should include the understanding and implementation of proper skill progression.


By |March 7th, 2018|Newsroom, Safety

Putting Your Emergency Action Plan (EAP) in Place

The most important goals of National Cheerleading Safety Month are education and awareness. Throughout the month, we will be focusing on ways to get the most of the amazing activity of cheerleading while minimizing the risk of injury. It’s more fun when you’re safe! […]

By |March 1st, 2018|Newsroom, Safety

The Truth About Cheerleading Safety

*Originally Published in American Cheerleader Magazine*

by Jim Lord
Executive Director, AACCA

Cheer often gets a bad rap in the media when it comes to safety. This is due to several reasons that require a long conversation about sociology, expectations, data reporting, misunderstandings about how cheerleading works and unfortunately, the reality that headlines attract attention. In truth, the risk of injury in cheerleading is about the same as other sports, if not lower.

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By |October 13th, 2017|Newsroom, Safety

New College Cheerleading Rules

The college cheerleading rules for 2016-17 have been published at , including a summary of changes at the end of the page.

There have been very few changes to the college rules for the past 4 or 5 years. Similar to changes at the high school level this year, the rules committee has made several changes to this year’s rules, which will allow new skills and more creativity at the college level.

As with all rules limitations, the most important safety element for teams is that they follow skill progressions for each stunt group and stay within their proper skill level before advancing to the next level.

By |June 24th, 2016|Safety

The Right Response to Youth Concussions

The New York Times is featuring an excellent series on concussions. Part 2 ran this week and it’s worth a read.

“As the number of youngsters who participate in organized sports grows and reports of concussions rise, it’s vital for parents, athletes and coaches to know how these injuries are properly diagnosed and treated to avoid long-lasting consequences. While preventing an injury is always best, limited progress has been made in keeping youngsters free of concussions in sports with a high risk of head injuries.”

Read the rest:

Last week’s installment can be found here:

By |September 1st, 2015|Newsroom, Safety, Uncategorized

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