Study: Rule change leads to decline in cheerleading injuries

December 19, 2018 / Sports Medicine
A recently published medical research study demonstrated how cheerleading rules can effectively maximize the safety of its participating athletes.

The study examined the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators (AACCA, now known as USA Cheer) basket toss rule change, implemented and enforced starting in 2006, and how one cheer safety rule significantly contributed to reducing the rate of catastrophic injuries for high school and college cheerleaders.

The peer-reviewed medical journal, Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach, published in its November/December 2018 issue a research study titled, “Catastrophic High School and Collegiate Cheerleading Injuries in the United States: An Examination of the 2006-2007 Basket Toss Rule Change.” With competitive cheerleading, a specialized athletic activity involving complex routines and stunts, the study examined the number of catastrophic injuries from 2002 to 2017.

Researchers found that starting in the 2006-07 academic year, when AACCA implemented its new rule banning basket tosses from hardwood floors in high school and college cheerleading, there was a nearly four-fold reduction in the rate of catastrophic basket toss injuries. The basket toss is not a difficult skill, but it is one that involves significant risk if not performed properly. The stunt involves one cheerleader tossed into the air by multiple people with interlocked hands who is then caught in a cradle catch.

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“As the governing body of cheer in the United States, cheer safety is always our number one priority. This research proves why it’s so important to put into place specific rules to reduce injuries and keep our athletes safe,” said Jim Lord, USA Cheer director of coaches education & programming. “Cheerleading participation is on the rise across the U.S. and beyond, with the International Olympic Committee recognizing cheer as an Olympic sport. It’s crucial that we create and enforce rules that will minimize injuries, as well as work to provide training, credentialing, and safety resources for coaches.”

USA Cheer, the governing body of cheer in the United States, was founded in 2008 to serve all aspects of cheer in America — traditional, all-star and the emerging sport of STUNT.  USA Cheer joined forces this year with the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators (AACCA), founded in 1987, to promote their joint mission of safety and education for the cheer community. By partnering together, USA Cheer is the preeminent organization instrumental in the development of cheerleading safety regulations, coaches’ education and risk management.

For more information about USA Cheer, visit

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