Three Cheers for Cheerleading Safety Tips
Cheerleaders such as bases, flyers, backspots and tumblers need agility, strength, and frequent practice to fine-tune routines and prevent injury. Unfortunately, the frequency of cheerleading injuries is rising with the increasing complexity of stunts.
How can cheerleaders, advisors, parents and coaches reduce these injury risks?
- Practice should take place in proper environments: use mats to practice landings and dismounts, and have high ceilings for jumping and throwing routines.
- Experienced and knowledgeable instructors should be consulted to teach the basics of cheerleading in an individualized and step-wise fashion for all participants.
- Coaches should be trained in first aid, CPR, and not hesitate to collaborate with sports medicine personnel such as certified athletic trainers to prevent, evaluate, and properly manage cheer-related injuries.
- A base must know how to support a flyer without hurting him/herself, while the flyer must know how to land safely.
- Teach flyers rolling and landing techniques over and over again.
- Bases need to work on using their legs, buttock and posterior hip regions for proper lifting and holding techniques that reduce cumulative trauma to shoulders and the back.
- Tumblers should develop appropriate strength in the back of the shoulders and hip regions to take pressure off elbows, wrists, and knees.
- Pre-season conditioning is essential with focus on shoulder, hip and back strengthening exercises. An athletic trainer, physical therapist, or sports medicine physician can demonstrate and recommend appropriate conditioning programs.
- Encourage necessary recovery by regularly scheduling rest periods (at least one off day a week during season and at least 2-3 months a year off of cheerleading activities).
- Avoid multi-level pyramids or throwing of cheerleaders unless all participants are comfortable and well-trained in these skills. One weak link can ruin the routine for all others.
- If there is pain or discomfort with any portion of a routine, do not compromise personal safety or the safety of teammates. Work with a coach or obtain medical evaluation before returning to practice or competition.
- Once returning from a injury, a cheerleader should go through a progressive step-wise return by first working on individual skills such as tumbling, kicks, and tucks before moving to group activities and finally stunting.
Do you have any more suggestions for cheerleading safety tips?