March is Cheerleading Safety Month
Take time to evaluate the safety of your cheerleading program
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.
, 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.
, 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.
, 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.
, 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!
Jim Lord, AACCA director