Team Up to Keep Your Cheerleader Safe and Healthy


Cheerleading is not a simple exercise in hopping around and yelling "Go, Team!"  It is a team sport that requires agility, physical coordination and qualified supervision to ensure the well-being of participants.  If you have daughters and sons who are involved in the sport, make sure that you check that coaches are trained and have stringent safety rules that are consistently followed.  Press your kids not to miss practice as practice builds confidence and trust. Finally, new routines should always be evaluated by the coaching staff. If you are not involved closely in your children’s activities, it’s a mistake. Cheerleading continues to cause more serious and deadly injuries by far than other primarily female-oriented sports.  Researchers have long known how dangerous cheerleading is, but records were poorly kept until recently. An update to the record-keeping system last year found that between 1982 and 2007, there were 103 fatal, disabling or serious injuries recorded among female high school athletes, with the vast majority (67) occurring in cheerleading. The next most dangerous sports: gymnastics (nine such injuries) and track (seven).

Cheerleading — not basketball, not softball, not even field hockey or ice hockey — is by far the most dangerous high school sport. Cheer accounts for 65 percent of all catastrophic injuries in girls’ high school athletics, shows a recent report by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at the University of North Carolina.  That’s especially striking considering cheerleaders make up just about 12 percent of the 3 million female high school athletes in the U.S.

Nearly 30,000 cheerleaders are treated in emergency rooms each year, according to national estimates by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Many of these kids — the average age treated in the ERs was 14 ½ — go home and heal; some never do.

“Cheerleading is not taken seriously enough, even by the people who teach it themselves,” says Kimberly Archie, who founded the National Cheer Safety Foundation in Ontario, Calif., in 2008 after her daughter broke her arm cheering. “They don’t realize that they’re asking kids to do acrobatics that put them at high risk.”

Copyright © Christine Hammerlund – 2010.Christine Hammerlund is a registered nurse and the owner of Assured Healthcare, a healthcare staffing service headquartered in Gurnee, Illinois.