March 2017 is Cheerleading Safety Month! Safety is a big concern in all sports and cheerleading is no exception. Because it combines both stunting and gymnastics, there are many opportunities for accidents if the proper precautions aren’t taken. While we often think of them as being nothing more than entertainment on the sidelines, cheerleaders serve a vital role, and the stunts they pull are demanding both mentally and physically. Cheerleading Safety Month comes each year to raise awareness that safety is vital to the health and performance of our team’s biggest supporters.
Basic Cheer Safety:
* Remove all jewelry
* Wear athletic shoes
* Keep your hair tied back
* Always have supervision
* Practice on safe surfaces such as mats and padded floors
* Have an emergency plan
In order to stay out of harm’s way and still perform spectacular stunts, there are a few basic guidelines that must be followed:
* Get proper instruction
* Always use a spotter
* Follow proper progression
* Practice proper technique
* Don’t push it
* Warm up
* Don’t ignore injuries
* Stay in shape
Of course, cheerleading safety should be practiced any time cheerleading is being performed, but March – Cheerleading Safety Month – provides the perfect opportunity to shine the spotlight on cheerleading safety.
March often marks the winding down of basketball season and with it most school cheerleading will also come to an end. Soon, tryouts for the next season will take place, giving coaches the opportunity to implement their safety programs for a new team.
There are four groups directly responsible for the safety of the cheerleader – the administration, the coaches, the cheerleaders themselves, and the cheerleaders’ parents. Each can use this month to focus on cheerleading safety and enhance safety in their programs.
Administrators, are you involved in your cheer program? Make sure you have selected a qualified coach to supervise the team and give them sufficient support. At a minimum, the coach should complete the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators safety course. Coaches should also take advantage of any other training available, such as training provided by the National Federation of State High School Associations or the US All Star Federation. They should be encouraged to attend camps, clinics and coaching conferences in order to further their knowledge of skill techniques. As an administrator, you should make sure your program has adequate practice facilities and matting and that the coach is following the safety rules.
Coaches, are you fully aware of your responsibilities with regard to safety? You should make sure your cheerleaders are using proper skill progressions. Don’t pressure your cheerleaders to try skills they are not ready to attempt. You or someone at practice, such as a coach’s assistant, should be CPR certified and trained in basic first aid. Make sure that you are following recognized safety rules and practices (AACCA, NFHS or USASF) outlined for your program. Develop and practice an emergency plan in the event a serious injury occurs.
Cheerleaders, you too have a responsibility for your own safety. If you feel scared about a particular stunt or tumbling skill, voice your concerns to your coach or parent. Take stunting very seriously, and stay focused on the skill and your part in it until it is safely completed. Practice good health and fitness habits so you can perform to the best of your ability. Remember, others are relying on you to be at your best during every performance.
Parents, use your voice! Know the safety rules, and If you find that standard practices aren’t being employed, bring it to the attention of the coach. If that doesn’t resolve the matter, do not hesitate to take your concerns to the administration. Ultimately, if you feel that your child’s safety is being compromised, take the difficult step of removing them from the program.
Cheerleading can be a safe and healthy activity when it is properly supervised. Let’s use this month of awareness to make sure we are all doing our part!
History of Cheerleading Safety Month
As the basketball season winds down to a close, Cheerleading tryout season often starts, and a bunch of intrepid new group comes to pick up the pom-pom and start down the demanding path of becoming a cheerleader. With the Administrators, Coaches, the Cheerleaders Parents, and Cheerleaders all working together, an education on how to perform at their very best while being safe in their efforts can be passed on and absorbed.
Cheerleading has been around for a long time, since the late 1800’s in fact, and believe it or not back then it was an all-male sport. From 1877-1923, it was the men that led the cheers, that helped to support their team, and in 1898 the idea of organized teams entered the scene. It wasn’t until 1923 that there women actually entered the field of cheerleading, and it took until 1940 for them to actually be recognized in things like student pamphlets and newspapers.
In 1987 the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches & Administrators was formed, and it wasn’t long after that that the important of safety education among Cheerleaders and those who trained them became obvious. This was the first seeds of National Cheerleading Safety Month coming to pass.
How To Celebrate Cheerleading Safety Month
There are a number of great ways to celebrate Cheerleading Safety Month, starting with being an active advocate for safety in your local cheerleading squad. This is a special opportunity for parents and administrators, a chance to make certain that your children or team is observing all the necessary safety practices to ensure they have a great, and safe, time.
You can also make contact with the National Cheer Safety Foundation to register as an official Cheer Safety Ambassador with their organization. This allows you to report injuries in cheerleading, build an emergency plan, and generally be a great asset to your team, your children, and their safety.