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Cheerleading Safety Guidelines

Stanford Cheerleaders

With fall around the corner and football season about to start, no one represents school spirit quite like cheerleaders. A cheerleading squad not only leads the crowd in rooting for their team - it also performs complex routines and athletic maneuvers that require week in and week out of practice, coordination and conditioning. Today's best cheerleaders are often both dancers and gymnasts who are able to perform difficult acrobatic maneuvers sure to wow the crowd - but are they trained for safety?

Given these facts, the danger of cheerleaders getting hurt during a game or practice is an unfortunate reality. A decade's worth of data compiled by Catastrophic Sport Injury Research showed 62 catastrophic injuries from 2001-2011 for cheerleading (in comparison, there were 358 tallied for football). In the 2005-2006 period alone, the organization CheerSafe notes, there were 12 catastrophic injuries suffered by cheerleaders across America, after which new and more comprehensive safety standards were established. Since that time, catastrophic injuries have been greatly reduced, with just one reported in the 2010-2011 period.

If your child wants to participate in a school's cheer squad or drill team, how do you know if there are the right safety rules in place? The best way is to see if your child's school follows the standards of the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators (AACCA), the group responsible for introducing guidelines that have effectively promoted cheerleader safety. Here's a helpful checklist:

  1. Has your squad enacted the AACCA safety rules?
  2. Is your cheer coach AACCA certified?
  3. Does your cheer coach have and refer to the sport's rule book?
  4. Are team members required to test their skills regularly?
  5. Are there mats in place at each practice?
  6. Are trained spotters used for techniques when falls are possible?
  7. Are there rules for appropriate types of footwear?
  8. Are there medical screening requirements?
  9. Is there an emergency plan and are first-aid kits readily available for use?
  10. Are the safety standards mandatory at practices?

It should be noted that injuries are more likely to occur at practice than at the games themselves. Cheerleading is an intense sport, so make sure your child's school is adhering to these sensible and necessary safety rules.

Source: 365 Ways to Keep Kids Safe

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