Is your daughter interested in cheerleading? Are you skeptical because you’ve heard it’s a dangerous sport? Well, here’s your chance to get the facts straight. We interviewed Dr. Jeffrey Dugas of the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) and Bill Seely, executive director of USA Cheer, about cheerleading misconceptions and injury prevention tips for parents and kids interested in this sport. And, when it comes to letting your child start cheerleading, they say BRING IT ON!
ModernMom: What are the most common types of cheerleader injuries?
Dr. Jeffrey Dugas: The most common injuries we see are minor injuries…strains are sprains. Things that are non surgical in nature, and things that can be treated over several days or weeks before returning to activity.
MM: How can we prevent them?
Dr. Jeffrey Dugas: The best way to prevent injuries is to understand them better. We hope to do that through a new study we’re going to launch looking at thousands of people across the country ranging from kids adolescent age up through the college years. We want to learn more about the biomechanics of cheerleading activity as well as to collect data on injuries.
MM: As parents, how do we find a good cheer program?
Bill Seely: You want to make sure you have a coach that’s safety certified.You can go to www.usacheer.net or www.aacca.org. Log on and you can check and see if the coach is actually safety trained. There are over 20,000 coaches trained across the country currently with the AACCA credentialing.
MM: What are some key components we should look for in a safe cheer team?
Bill Seely: First and foremost, you want that coach that’s safety trained. Also, the coach should be looking at more than just cheerleading. You want a well rounded program that allows the young people to participate…obviously consider academics as well. You want them to keep their grades up and give them time to be young, too.
MM: How intense is too intense? How often, and for how long, should we let our girls have cheer practice?
Dr. Jeffrey Dugas: There’s not really a specific recommendation at this point. Obviously, conditioning and strength training as you move into the higher levels play into that. You don’t want to do the most difficult stunts when you’re fatigued. A well planned and well thought out practice schedule with plenty of time for rest as well as strength conditioning is important.
MM: Are there certain stunts we should prohibit our daughters from partaking in?
Bill Seely: There are stunts that are prohibited, and you can find those on the websites. There are specific safety guidelines for high school and college.
MM: What’s the National Cheer Safety Council.
Bill Seely: USA Cheer put together the National Cheer Safety Council to help build upon the successes we’ve had in the past. We’ve partnered with the American Sports Medicine Institute that Dr. Dugas heads up. We’ve also added several coaches in the various disciplines of cheerleading as well as athletes. We want to raise awareness for cheerleading safety, and we want to make sure we build upon our safe record.