Posted on: 25 November 2014
When your child gets involved in cheerleading, you may think that she's at lower risk for injury than if she played a contact sport. But that's not necessarily true. Cheerleading is responsible for more catastrophic injuries for female athletes over the past 25 years than any other sport.
Cheerleading has plenty of advantages, of course. Participants learn about teamwork, fitness, and discipline, which can serve them well throughout their lives. But as a parent, you'll want to make sure your child is safe by following these five tips:
1. Recognize the risks
Cheerleading isn't like it was in the past. Instead of just chanting and waving their pompoms, cheerleaders do increasingly complicated lifts, throws, and acrobatic moves.
Look for information about specific safety recommendations, such as those suggested at StopSportsInjuries.org..
2. Make sure she's ready
Your child may or may not be required to have a medical exam before participating. That's because some states recognize cheerleading as a sport, but others don't.
Make sure your child has a thorough medical exam, including a detailed medical history, before you let her participate in cheerleading. Also encourage her to prepare with stretching, yoga, or pilates to improve flexibility. Resistance exercises can also help strengthen her shoulders, stomach, and lower back.
3. Ask questions
Find out about your child's coaches and their training and experience. Don't be afraid to speak up and ask.
Do they have any certifications or special qualifications? What's the protocol that coaches and athletes follow when an injury has occurred? What procedures are followed for recognizing a possible concussion and ensuring proper treatment?
4. Attend some practices
If you go to watch your daughter cheer at games or competitions, you'll only get a small picture of what she does. Attend a few practices to see what goes on.
Look at the moves that are attempted. Mats should be used at all times, and spotters should be utilized for acrobatic tricks. Coaches should always be present and attentive. Cheerleaders should receive instruction in safe techniques and proper procedure, since their behavior affects not only their own safety, but the safety of other cheerleaders as well.
5. Encourage communication
Your daughter should know that if she's injured, she should tell you and her coach about it. She shouldn't feel rushed into returning before she's ready.
Also make sure your daughter knows that if she's uncomfortable with any stunt, she should say so. If she feels uncomfortable about the skill level or behavior of any of her teammates in terms of safety, she should know she can talk to you. Encourage her to tell you about any concerns she may have, and make sure she knows you'll address them in a calm, respectful way with her coaches.
Cheerleading can be a relatively safe sport when appropriate precautions are taken. By following the steps outlined above, you can help make sure your daughter's experience is as injury-free as possible. If you have any specific concerns, or if your daughter is injured, you may want to contact the sports medicine specialists at a clinic like Rainbow Pediatrics.Share