Parent's Guide to Cheerleading Safety

Attention Parents! We have developed a new site with USA Cheer to serve as a one-stop resource for cheerleading safety. Please visit and follow @cheersafe on twitter!

Download the Parent’s Guide to Cheerleading Safety.

Cheerleading is an athletic activity that involves risk. That risk can be managed and cheerleading performed safely if the right procedures are followed.

Cheerleading safety requires a team approach, and that team includes the cheerleaders, coach, administration and parents. These "Cheerleading Safety Tips for Parents" should help parents understand the right questions to ask of their cheerleading program in order to evaluate its safety.

  1. Is our coach AACCA certified through the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators safety course and has our school conducted the appropriate background checks?
    The American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators is the largest not-for-profit educational organization for cheerleading coaches. AACCA operates as an independent organization since its founding by Varsity Spirit Corporation. AACCA certification features safety awareness training with a safety test administered at the end of the training session.  The AACCA Safety Course is required for all NCAA cheerleading coaches, and by school districts and states around the country. It should be required for yours.
  2. Does our coach adhere to accepted practice and performance guidelines?
    AACCA practice guidelines require direct supervision by a coach with practices held in a location suitable for the activities of cheerleaders (i.e., use of appropriate mats, away from excessive noise and distractions, etc.)  Most states require adherence to the skill restrictions put in place by the either AACCA or the National Federation of High Schools. Your program should be following these rules and procedures, which include restrictions on skills such as basket toss flips and pyramids which are more than two persons high.
  3. Does our coach ensure that performance skills are taught in the proper sequence using skills progression training, with an emphasis on training all squad members in proper spotting methods?
    Skills progression training ensures that cheerleaders build upon mastered technique when learning more difficult and advanced stunts or tumbling, i.e. cartwheel to round-off to back-hand spring. Spotters are responsible for assisting or catching the top person in a stunt with a priority to protect the head, neck, and shoulders of the top person coming off of a stunt.
  4. Does my child’s coach properly balance practice time between athletic training and spirit leadership instruction?
    Cheerleading is an activity that builds self confidence, leadership and communication skills and involves more than stunts and tumbling. Safety begins with leadership. Instilling these qualities in cheerleaders helps prevent accidents when all squad members hold safety as a priority. The stunts and tumbling involved in cheerleading should aid the cheerleader in generating excitement and participation by the fans. Performing difficult stunts only for the sake of athleticism should be avoided at games and reserved for competition venues with professional spotters and mats.
  5. Does our squad have an emergency plan in place?
    A comprehensive emergency plan is necessary to provide a quick and effective response to an emergency situation with specific duties assigned to all responders. A sample emergency plan can be found at

As in any activity in which their child participates, parents have a role to play in ensuring that their child is able to reap the benefits that come with the activity while being protected from unreasonable risk.  If a parent has a concern about safety, they should bring it to the attention of the coach. If a satisfactory response is not received, they should contact the administration to make sure proper procedures are in place for safety.

Together, we can minimize the risk to our cheerleaders and maximize the benefits of participation in this popular athletic activity.

AACCA safety instructor -15 years - one of the first 30 safety certifiers....
Elizabeth Dobson
AACCA Instructor More from Members