When you think about dangerous sports your high-school aged child might want to participate in, chances are you think of contact sports, like football, wrestling, and soccer.
Surprisingly, however, the most injuries in high school athletes are among cheerleaders.
And not only are there more injuries among cheerleaders, most of those injuries are serious.
Cheerleaders who are most at risk for serious injury are those known as “fliers.” These are the cheerleaders, almost exclusively girls, who are tossed high into the air during the increasingly acrobatic, daring, and gymnastic routines being used by today’s cheerleaders.
Many feel that safety standards have not kept pace with these increasingly complex and dangerous routines.
Many organizations, including the parent-founded National Cheer Safety Foundation, are working to make cheerleading safer.
Here are some ways to make cheerleading safer for your child:
- Ask whether the coach is certified by the US All Star Federation for Cheer & Dance Teams or the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators (AACCA); find out of that certification is current. If your child’s school does not require certification, insist that they change their policy.
- Ask what governing board established the safety rules your child’s school uses. Look for rules developed by the AACCA or the All Star Federation.
- Ask if emergency medical response plans are in place. Make sure that the policy is to call 911 first in the event of an injury and call the parent second.
- Find out where practices take place. The space should be adequate in size, supplied with proper mats and equipment, and free from distractions.
- Ask your child if she ever feels pressured to attempt maneuvers she does not feel are safe, and whether mastery of one part of a maneuver is achieved before the next step is practiced.
- Find out what kind of warm-ups and strength training are included in the program.