USA Cheer Announces Creation of USA Cheer Safety Council

Partners with American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) to Conduct Research Study Aimed at Injury Prevention

Memphis, Tenn. (February 9, 2011) – USA Cheer, the national governing body (NGB) for all forms of cheerleading, today launched the USA Cheer Safety Council to raise the awareness of cheerleading safety and education, address misconceptions about injuries, and provide data to ensure proper training of athletes.

The USA Cheer Safety Council is made up of representatives from all segments and disciplines of cheer, including the medical community, spirit industry leaders, biomechanics experts, administrators, coaches, athletes and parents. The council met for the first time last month in Orlando with an agenda that included sharing recent research studies as well as creating groups charged with developing an epidemiology for cheer, a safety awareness campaign and a Cheer Safety Symposium in April 2011. The council’s agenda also included a review of the successful safety improvements made by groups such as the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators (AACCA).

As part of this new safety initiative, USA Cheer is partnering with the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) to conduct a research study with a goal to proactively help continue to reduce the risks of injury in cheerleading by researching the biomechanics for common overuse injuries and epidemiology. By creating a baseline with elite athletes, researchers can identify the proper ways for the skills to be performed.

Starting this month, cheerleaders from across the country will be evaluated at the ASMI biomechanics lab to determine a baseline of proper technique by elite athletes. Researchers will be analyzing the movements and forces involved with partner stunts, basket tosses, pyramids, jumps and tumbling. By using Dartfish technology that allows researchers to slow down and effectively analyze proper movement, they hope that studying these moves will provide crucial information that will lead to continued reduction of injuries, faster return to play for athletes and keep cheerleading a safe activity. This data will be translated into models coaches can use to better train their athletes in the proper mechanics of stunts, jumps, tumbling and landings used across all cheerleading disciplines.

“With any sport there is the risk of injury, but the important thing is to learn as much as we can about where the greatest risks lie as well as the proper way to perform the techniques,” said Dr. Jeff Dugas, a world renowned orthopedic surgeon who is leading the research study. “The more we study and learn the more that can be done to reduce and prevent injuries.”

It was demonstrated during the USA Cheer Safety Council meeting that initial studies determining cheerleading risk used participation figures that were four times lower than the actual true participation figure. With the correct figure, the risk of catastrophic injury in cheerleading is actually eighth amongst high school sports. Factoring in seasonality the figure is statistically tied for 10th beside girls’ soccer and boys’ track.

Recent studies that are based on injuries per exposure show cheerleading to rank below most other sports for injury. In fact, results from the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study released this past fall demonstrate that cheerleading has a significantly lower risk of injury than most other sports in the survey and ranks 18th out of 20 sports studied for risk of injury.

Cheerleading has seen a dramatic increase in participation across the US. According to numbers from the National Federation of State High School Associations, competitive cheerleading has increased 46% in the last five years alone. There are an estimated half million high school cheerleaders and the growing popularity of All Star cheerleading which adds nearly another half million. This increase in participation is a main factor in previous misconceptions that cheerleading has somehow gotten more dangerous.

“We are doing a lot to promote safety and injury prevention in cheer, but we will continue to look for ways to improve, so that we can ensure that our sport remains one of the safest for young people to participate in.,” said USA Cheer executive director Bill Seely. “Every injury is one too many. Safety is the biggest priority for our cheerleaders and coaches. We want more young people to experience all that our sport has to offer, and we have a responsibility to provide a safe environment for them.”

AACCA has also been tapped to provide practical cheerleading insight as well. Funding for the research study is being provided by Varsity Brands, the leading source for all things related to cheerleading and dance teams.

Cheerleaders, coaches and parents can visit to learn more about the USA Cheer Safety Council and its safety initiatives as well as to take the “I Cheer Safe” pledge.

About USA Cheer

The USA Federation for Sport Cheering is a not-for profit organization and is the national governing body for all disciplines of cheerleading. USA Cheer exists to serve the entire cheer community, including club cheering (All Star), traditional school based cheer programs and the new sport of “Stunt.” USA Cheer has three primary objectives: help grow and develop interest and participation in Cheer throughout the United States; promote safety and safety education for cheer in the United States; and represent the United States of America in international cheer competitions.

For more information, contact Sheila Noone at 901-251-5959.

USA Cheer Announces Creation of USA Cheer Safety Council