Cheerleading Safety

Preventing Injuries - What Cheerleaders and Coaches Should Know and Do

Safety should be the number one priority of all cheerleaders and coaches.
C. Mitchinson

As with any sport, safety should be of the utmost concern for all involved in cheerleading. Whether you're a cheerleader, coach or parent, your main objective should be to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

A number of associations have developed guidelines for safe practice and for appropriate progressions in skills to take the guess work out of how to stay safe while cheering. If you are a school cheerleader or coach, have a look at the guidelines set by the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators, or AACCA.

If you cheer or coach all star, you should be following the guidelines written by the United States All Star Federation, or USASF.

There are many references to safety studies that lead to insinuations that cheerleading is not a safe sport, but regardless of the statistics, one injury is too many. No one wants a broken bone, a day in the hospital, a visit to the ER or a catastrophic injury. Especially when a small amount of common sense can prevent any one of these outcomes.

Simply by knowing why the majority of injuries occur will help you better understand how to prevent them. Armed with these fact you can make certain your squad has an injury free season.


Why Cheerleading Injuries Occur

  • Lack of conditioning and not being physically prepared
  • Untrained coaches, instructors or advisers
  • Poor decision making by instructors or participants
  • Risk taking attitudes
  • Inadequate supervision
  • Inadequate equipment (example: improper shoes)
  • Non-cushioned surfaces
  • Poor nutrition
  • Attempting difficult stunts before being ready


What You Can do to Prevent Injuries

  • Adhere to all rules and regulations
  • Practice on mats or pads
  • Wear well fitting shoes with proper cushion and support
  • Have an emergency plan in place and practice it
  • Require proper spotting
  • Gradually progress to difficult stunts and skills
  • Become educated and certified in safety, first aid and CPR
  • Require and use the proper techniques
  • Learn how to identify eating disorders
  • Treat all injuries as soon as they happen
  • Increase flexibility
  • Strengthen lower back, abdomen and shoulders
  • Gradually increase intensity of practice


Want to know more?

Are you an all star cheerleader or do you hope to become one? The USASF defines 6 levels of all star cheerleading and each level includes a set of skills. These levels build on each other, so, for example, you need to be able to do the skills at level 1 in order to learn the skills at level 2. Get familiar with the USASF Levels and the skills in each level by checking out USASF Levels at a Glance.

Do you want to fix failed skills, but you aren't sure how? Think safety first when you are attempting new skills or trying to figure out why a skill failed. Learn to troubleshoot failed skills safely with Troubleshooting Skills with SOAR.

Is is tumbling that has you shaking in your Infinity's? You don't have to be afraid to flip. Take the terror out of tumbling with Flip Without Fear.

Reduce your chances of getting injured when stunting  by being smart.

Learn the right way to learn any stunt skills by using the principles explained in STUNT SMART.


Know that cheerleading carries some unavoidable risks and no amount of prevention can stop every injury, but with the proper information and knowledge the severity and frequency of injuries can be greatly reduced. Be safe, stay safe.


Edited by Christy Mitchinson