Whether you are a cheerleader or the parent or coach of one, you probably recognize the athleticism required in cheerleading. Competitive cheerleading requires tremendous strength, agility and power for the stunts and tumbling passes performed. Let’s take steps to prevent cheerleading injuries.
Cheerleading received some unflattering attention after studies found high rates of catastrophic injuries. Cheerleading was responsible for 65.0% of direct catastrophic injuries in female high school athletes between 1982 and 2009. At the collegiate level, cheerleading accounted for 70.8% of the direct catastrophic injuries.
The cheerleading governing bodies made some changes that seem to have had a tremendous impact in decreasing these catastrophic injuries. At an individual and team level, there are some simple steps you can take to prevent cheerleading injuries.
Cheerleaders must be trained in proper techniques for spotting and stunting. Each athlete should only attempt stunts after she has demonstrated the technical skills required for each maneuver.
Follow the rules for basket tosses and pyramids. It is essential that coaches and athletes understand the limits on height and number of participants for each maneuver.
A proper surface for cheerleading is essential. Pyramids, tumbling passes and other stunts should never be performed on wet, hard, or otherwise unsafe surfaces. Likewise, cheerleading teams should utilize mats whenever possible.
Cheerleaders, like all athletes, should perform routine strength and conditioning training. For example, it is critical that spotters and bases have enough upper body and core muscle strength and balance to support the flyers.
Recognize that cheerleaders are tremendous athletes whether or not you consider cheerleading to be a sport. These efforts can prevent cheerleading injuries and keep more of the athletes safe and healthy.