The CHSCDA believes that keeping every cheerleader safe should be everyone’s number one priority. This starts with having responsible adults in coaching positions and continues through to proper education at all levels (cheerleaders and coaches). Only with properly educated and experienced coaches, can cheerleaders learn the safe and correct way to practice their stunt and tumbling skills.
Second to education, it’s imperative the cheerleaders practice in safe environments. This means on a soft surface such as carpet-bonded foam mats and preferably indoors where the elements do not cause any increased risk. And of course, a properly educated, responsible adult (coach) with experience in gymnastics, stunting and spotting should be present at all times.
Next on the safety checklist, an emergency plan should be created, explained and practiced by everyone involved in the program (including the cheerleaders). All coaches and supervisors of the program should be CPR and First Aid certified, as well as educated in how to use an A.E.D (Automated External Defibrillator). Make sure everyone has access to and knows where the school nurse or athletic trainer is located during your entire practice session. Every cheerleader should have a current emergency medical information card and coaches should have a copy of that card on them at all times. This card should include any current medical conditions of the athlete along with any medication that the athlete might be taking, as well as current contact information for their parent or guardian.
Continuing on, always make sure that all cheerleaders are prepared to practice. This means wearing the proper practice clothing, including cheerleading shoes with the proper support. Jewelry, hair clips and other accessories should not be worn during practice and finger nails should be trimmed to tip of the finger.
There are many more steps to ensuring that your cheerleaders practice and perform safely. This includes following proper technique and progressions; incorporating a proper warm-up, stretching and conditioning regiment into your practices; and knowing your own limits as the responsible adult in charge and asking for professional help when needed.
Ultimately, coaches and advisors to any cheerleading program (at any level) have a responsibility to their cheerleaders and their respective parents to keep everyone as safe as possible. To this end, the CHSCDA is always available as a resource to help all cheerleading programs uphold those safety practices and principles and lend support when needed.