Today’s cheerleaders are more than a sideline pep squad. For many cheerleading teams, stunts, jumps, tumbling and intense physical stamina are required. The sport of cheerleading can be competitive, demanding and potentially dangerous. So it is important to consider the safety of your child’s cheerleading program.
The National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research reports that two-thirds of all catastrophic sports injuries, such as fractured vertebrae and paralysis, by high school and college girls in the United States are related to cheerleading. However, it is also a sport that can be fun and safe when the following guidelines are in place:
– Cheerleaders should practice and perform either on grass (real or artificial) or on mats – not on concrete or the hare gymnasium floor.
– Each cheerleader should wear soft-soled athletic shoes and no jewelry.
– Make sure coaches follow recognized safety rules and practices outlined by the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators and that they have – and practice – an emergency plan in case a serious injury occurs.
– Ask the coach and assistance it they have an active CPR certificate and if they’re trained in basic first aid.
– Signed consent forms are mandatory so your child can receive medical care if he or she is injured and you’re not there. Make sure your child has up-to-date forms, contact information and critical medical information on file.
– Teach your child that if he or she feels scared, pressured or uncomfortable about doing a certain stunt, he or she should tell the coach or you about it.
For additional resources related to cheerleading safety and sports medicine care, check out these links
American Association of Cheerleading Coaches
National Federation of State High School Associations
Carolinas Healthcare System Sports Medicine and Injury Care
Photo credit: Jill Bazeley
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