MEMPHIS, Tenn., May 12 /PRNewswire/ -- In an ongoing effort to minimize the risk of cheerleading-related injuries, the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators (AACCA) has announced stricter new safety rules and introduced the first set of cheerleading rules developed specifically for elementary, middle and junior high school squads.
"Each year the AACCA rules committee reviews our existing safety guidelines to identify more ways to help protect the safety of cheerleaders and minimize the risk of injury," said Jim Lord, executive director of AACCA. "As cheerleading evolves, we are constantly looking for ways to improve safety for all cheerleaders, and sometimes that means restricting or eliminating certain moves."
Rules changes affecting all cheerleaders include more stringent restrictions for partner stunts, pyramids and tosses. And the new elementary, middle and junior high school rules are designed to help ensure that younger cheerleaders learn proper fundamental techniques before progressing to more advanced skills.
"This is a major change for these teams, and it focuses on one of the most important preventative measures for cheerleading safety known as skill progression," Lord said. "The intent of these changes is to keep younger school cheerleaders performing more fundamental skills. This will improve safety at these levels as well as at the high school level where they will be allowed to progress to more advanced skills if they have demonstrated proficiency."
Lord said in recent years, many in the cheer industry had noticed that more teams at the elementary and middle school levels were performing advanced skills for which they were not prepared.
"This is how injuries can occur," Lord said. "These rules will ensure better skills development."
To address these concerns, the AACCA rules committee decided to prohibit all basket tosses and double full twisting dismounts, regardless of the surface for all elementary, middle school and junior high cheerleaders. Previously, there were no exclusive rules for these squads, which often followed high school regulations or guidelines set by AACCA or the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
"While the high school guidelines are appropriate for older squads, younger squads should have more restrictive rules to reflect their ability and skill level," Lord said.
The AACCA strongly urges associations that govern elementary, middle and junior high school cheerleaders to adopt these additional restrictions regardless of whether they currently follow the NFHS or AACCA Cheerleading Rules.
High school rules also updated
The AACCA high school rules committee made three changes to help align their rules with rules from the NFHS. These include a ban on released stunt transitions, a requirement to have three catchers when a top person performs a controlled fall into a flat-body position, and specifications for the use of religious or medical medallions.
"These changes are important to help align the two major sets of rules used by high school teams," Lord said. "While we felt that the previous rules for these skills were safe, having consistency between these sets of rules is also important."
With these changes, the only one major difference remains between the NFHS and AACCA rules, Lord said. The AACCA restricts all released twists on basketball court surfaces without a mat, while the NFHS Spirit Rules currently allow up to one and one-quarter twists on the basketball court surface.
These rules are only for school-based teams, as AACCA does not publish rules for non-school cheerleading such as all-star or youth recreational leagues. School cheerleading is different from these classifications due to the limited population from which schools can choose their teams, and the primary role of school cheerleading is one of leadership and support.
For more information about cheerleading safety, visit www.aacca.org.
The American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators represents more than 20,000 cheerleading coaches and are the leading advocates of cheerleading safety in the U.S. AACCA is the most recognized source for cheerleading safety education. The AACCA manual, composed by a team of doctors, lawyers, cheerleading industry professionals and Gerald S. George, PhD, has been endorsed by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the University Risk Management and Insurance Association, the Women's Sports Foundation and the National Athletic Trainers' Association, as well as the NCAA and NFHS.
SOURCE American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators