Are cheerleaders athletes?
Better believe it!
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 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.
- 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 proper lifting and holding techniques to reduce cumulative trauma to shoulders and the back.
- Tumblers should develop appropriate shoulder and hip strength to take pressure off elbows, wrists, and knees.
- Pre-season conditioning is essential with focus on shoulder and back strengthening exercises.
- An athletic trainer, physical therapist, or sports medicine physician can demonstrate and recommend appropriate conditioning programs.
- 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 an athlete has 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.