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 other coaches and athletic trainers at their school to find out what trends may benefit their own team. This is true of brand new coaches and veteran coaches alike.
We are always learning more about the human body, biomechanics, and recovery systems, and we should implement the most recent information we have in order to maximize our team’s progress and safety, and also to protect ourselves and institutions.
National Federation of State High School Associations: http://www.nfhs.org/activities-sports/spirit/
USASF (US All Star Federation): http://usasf.net/home/