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Cheerleading Guidelines Needed, Doctors Say

By Deanne Katz, Esq. | Last updated on

Cheerleading is an important part of many communities but the activity lacks guidelines to keep young people safe while they do stunts and mid-aid tosses.

The number of injuries associated with cheerleading has gone up significantly over the past few years as has the number of participants. In response, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a set of cheerleading guidelines it hopes schools will follow.

The guidelines are meant for coaches, parents, and school officials and are designed to decrease injuries.

One of the biggest concerns is that while cheerleading is a demanding and athletic activity, it's generally not classified as a sport. That means it gets less attention from the start.

Sports have specific regulations about coaching qualifications, facilities, and equipment, reports ABC News. That's part of why doctors are pushing for cheerleading to be seen as a sport as a means to improve practice areas, safety nets, and the quality of coaches.

The guidelines also recommend specific safety precautions tailored to cheerleading. Those include limiting the height of pyramids and restricting what surfaces can be used for stunts.

Just like for other sports, more medical attention, pre-season physicals, and better training can all lead to fewer injuries.

Participating in sports or other athletic activities always carries the risk of injury. But for young people whose bones and muscles are still developing those injuries can have permanent consequences.

Be aware of what your child is doing during practice or classes and ask a coach or teacher about safety equipment and procedures.

While some sports injuries are just part of playing the game, others can be the result of negligent training or equipment. The difference is important if you think a lawsuit is appropriate.

If you're unsure about what the coach or teacher is doing, you can always ask an expert at the FindLaw Answers Forum about whether it could be negligence.

Injuries common in cheerleading including ankle and knee problems, reports ABC News. But because of the acrobatic stunts there's also a risk of head and neck injuries which are more serious.

Those catastrophic injuries are still fairly uncommon but there's no need to have even one with proper training and facilities. The AAP guidelines are designed to ensure that.

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