Cheerleading is a competitive and demanding sport. Injuries can happen, some of
them serious. The "flyers," the young women who are tossed into the air, are particularly
at risk. To learn how to keep things as safe as possible, follow these tips.
Safe Cheerleading Gear
All cheerleaders need rubber-soled shoes with good cushioning and support that
fit well. Flyers also might want to consider wearing a lightweight cheer vest while
practicing to protect themselves from bruising and injuries.
Always warm up and stretch
before practice, games, and competitions.
Practice somewhere that has floors that absorb impact well — like spring
floors or 4-inch-thick landing mats on top of foam floors. Never practice on a basketball
court or other hard surface.
Make sure the coach or program director is qualified and attends every practice.
Cheerleading coaches should be certified by the American Association of Cheerleading
Coaches and Administrators (AACCA) or a similar organization. A qualified coach will
be up to date on the latest safety recommendations.
Have a coach or teammate be spotters for all new or difficult stunts.
Let the coach know if they're uncomfortable with a stunt. If the coach isn't supportive,
the cheerleader needs to tell a parent or administrator.
Stop training if they get hurt or feel pain. They need to get checked by an athletic
trainer, coach, doctor, or nurse before going back to practicing.
Never try a stunt at a game or competition that they have not practiced many times.
Be sure the team has a plan for emergencies.
Cheerleading is a great group activity and an excellent way to stay fit. But just
as with gymnastics,
dancing, and ice skating, there's lots of pressure to stay thin. This puts cheerleaders
at risk for eating disorders.
Eating disorders can lead to serious health problems.
Coaches and parents should promote healthy eating and know the warning signs of
eating disorders. When an eating disorder is caught early, a person has a better chance