Thursday, February 21, 2008

On My Soapbox - Cheerleading Safety

Cheerleading and Safety -

It is said that Cheerleading is one of the most dangerous sports for our children and young adults to be involved in. While I don’t dismiss the studies that have been done (mostly based on emergency room visits) I do challenge what areas of cheerleading these stats were derived from.

My analysis:
When you hear the press on the lack of safety in cheerleading you are directed to high school, college (some) and little league (pop warner types) of cheerleading organizations. These programs are usually under funded so YES, they are stunting and tumbling on bare gym floors or just panel mats where repetitve practice can be very dangerous to the joints. Many routines are performed on the sidelines of football fields without any proper equipment for the degree of physical activity this sport has evolved into. Many (not all) of the coaches are not certified in cheer safety. In some instances the coach is merely a chaperone, and the team captains are in charge of the squads and routines. In other words, many administrators of these cheerleading programs still look at cheerleading as an add on to their football or basketball programs, and don’t look at it as a true sport or fund it as they do other sports.

Is there SAFE Cheerleading? You bet there is!! All-Star Competitive Cheerleading gyms spend thousands of dollars sending their coaches to USASF coaching safety certification courses, they are strictly ruled by safety guidelines and they invest in spring loaded floors (to protect against repetitive joint damage), rod floors, tumble tracks, and trampolines to train their athletes.

What is USASF?

USASF is the U.S. All Star Federation. It’s about safety standards. It’s about coaches’ education. It’s about providing a safe environment to allow for the continued growth of all star cheerleading and dance across the country. It’s about parents knowing their children are being taught using safe methods that are in accordance with the standard of care. It’s about standardization of rules from one competition to the next.

If you would like to know more about USASF:

Want to see if your gym is USASF certified:

Just my opinions, would love to hear yours!

Small All-Star Gym Association

It’s about time! All-Star cheerleading has grown faster than any sport ever, but the big gyms have of course had all the voice in decisions made in the support organizations. Finally, an association is being created for small gyms!
From my days of owning a cheerleading gym, I was a great follower of Cheer Power, owned and run by Regina. She held out from joining USASF because she believed it catered to the big gyms. She has joined the Varsity Group, while still managing Cheer Power and is starting a small gym association.

The press release follows:

For Immediate Release From Regina Symons

We are excited to announce the formation of the National Small Gym Association! (NSGA) We believe that the time is now for all small gyms nation-wide to band together to make their voices heard. Your VOICE should be as loud as your NUMBERS!! The small gym will be defined as 125 cheer members at the gym and will be allowed to grow to 150 members. We will not count cross-overs, show teams, or dance members. The association will also offer many discounts for insurance, awards, and seminars on running a successful business. Certification for coaches will also be available.
The first ever small gym association was founded by Billy Smith state-wide in Texas. He realized the need for this early on. We hope that he will join us in this nation-wide association. We believe there is definitely a need for a National Association. Small gyms are important to the growth of our sport. Everything that can be done must be done to preserve their existence. Rules must be set up that will help foster the success of the small gym. Seminars must be given to ensure the business success of a small gym. We believe that together we can make a difference. As a group we will also be able to enjoy discounts that would not otherwise be available to a smaller gym.
The first meeting of the Nation-wide Association will be held in Las Vegas, NV in May. All membership benefits will be outlined at that time. We will offer World Series Champion instructors as well as Cheer Biz staff in order to bring you the most motivational and creative ideas possible. Go online TODAY – to register for this 1st-ever event! We are also planning the first ever International All-Level Championship coming in Atlanta Georgia in ’09! This prestigious competition will also include a SMALL GYM CHAMPIONSHIP!
Join now to make YOUR VOICE HEARD! Send $50 to 201 Spruce, Dickinson, Texas 77539! You also may fax over a registration with a credit card to 281-339-2976! DO IT TODAY!
Way to go Regina!!

It is almost try-out time

Whether you are interested in High School or All-Star (Competition Cheer) it is almost time for tryouts, are you ready?
Unless you have been on another squad and are transferring schools or gyms, you need to start preparing for try-outs NOW! Cheerleading is not what your Mom remembers it being. Cheerleading is a true completely physical sport in today’s world.
First thing to think about - Can you tumble? It is almost impossible to make a cheerleading squad today unless you have at least a round-off back handspring. So if you don’t, get to a gym NOW! Many gymnastics gyms or cheerleading gyms have classes that start in February just for cheerleaders to learn their tumbling for try-outs. IF you have your round-off back handspring, then get to the gym and progress your tumbling. The better your tumbling the more elite squad you have a chance of making.
Don’t be shy! Cheerleaders are not shy … call the coach at the gym or school that you want to join and talk to them about what you need to be able to do in order have a good chance at their try-outs. Then follow their instructions! Coaches love to see athletes that follow instructions.
In owning a gym for years you don’t know how many calls we got 2 weeks before try-outs and wanted the 2 week miracle, believe me, it hardly ever happens …. get started NOW!
More on tryouts later …..

World Cheerleading Competitions

It is getting to be almost time for Cheerleading and Dance World Competition - April 26-27, 2008
A good way to get ready is to watch videos from last years World Competition
Would you like to watch videos from “World Cheer?” Here is the link that will get you there:

Cheerleading Terms

New to Cheerleading and don’t understand the lingo? Heck, been around Cheer forever and still don’t get the lingo? Here is a site where you can get the definitions to all those terms you always pretended you knew:)