Cheerleading has become a hugely popular sport in high schools and colleges across the country. Additionally, private gyms offer cheerleading classes and many teams don’t only support their schools at sporting events, they also at an elite level.
As the sport of cheerleading garners more interest and prestige among young girls and boys, the incidence of severe injury has also grown in proportionately with this increase in participants.
The United States Sports Academy (USSA) ranks cheerleading as the number two most catastrophic sport— second only to football— with stunts that can cause head, neck and spinal trauma, fractured bones, paralysis and even death.
Also according to the USSA, over 65% of all youth sport injuries can be attributed to cheerleading; an alarming statistic as the interest has grown so rapidly in younger children. Falls from a cheerleading stunt can impact a human body with greater force than being tackled by a football player.
Evidence is pointing to cheerleading as the most dangerous sport for women of any age to participate in, mostly because of the nature of the sport, which requires cheerleaders to be thrown into the air by other team members, reaching heights upwards of 20 feet from the ground.
Cheerleading accidents can end in tragedy, and if you or a loved one has experienced cheerleading injuries because of a coach or other individual’s negligence, you deserve justice for the pain and suffering you endured.
Victims of cheerleading accidents suffer through intense pain, anxiety, emotional trauma and mental anguish.
Common Injuries from Cheerleading Accidents
Unfortunately, the sport of cheerleading is poorly regulated, and until safety standards catch up to the growing interest there will be many serious injuries. There are a number of variables that can affect the outcome of a stunt, and if one member of the team makes a mistake everyone could suffer.
The following are some of the most commonly occurring injuries in cheerleading accidents:
- Ligament tears
- Muscle strains
- Fractured bones
- Skull fractures
- Broken neck or back
- Spinal trauma
- Dental trauma
- …and much more
Only 12 states require cheerleading coaches to be certified, and if your child was injured while under the supervision of a coach, they could be liable for the pain and suffering they endured. Many accidents occur because of risky or uncoordinated stunts and the cheerleading coach is responsible for maintaining a safe environment, free of unnecessary hazards.
Common Causes of Cheerleading Accidents
The following are some of the most common causes of accidents in the sport of cheerleading:
- Basket toss stunts
- Competitive pressure from coach
- Human pyramids
- Improper gym flooring
- Inexperienced/ non-certified coach
- No spotter
- Training equipment malfunction
- Tumbling passes
- …to name a few.
Sometimes, a coach may pressure the team to complete stunts or tumbling passes that are too advanced, or demand too many practices before an important game or competition, which can lead to over training and stress fractures in addition to weakened muscles.
Coaches also are responsible for the way their practice is conducted, and ensuring that the proper attire is worn in their gym. If the proper training uniform or footwear is not worn, accidents can happen easily, and loose-fitting clothing can cause a finger, arm or leg to catch injuring several team members at once.
Alternatively, another cheerleader could be acting recklessly by not following the guidelines that are in place for aerial stunts. If a base— the bottom cheerleader who throws the flyer into the air— is not in the proper position to catch the flyer when they land, the flyer will drop to the ground, as the other bases cannot support the force of a falling cheerleader on their own. This could cause injuries to all of the cheerleaders involved in the stunt, but certainly the flyer is at risk for severe head and dental trauma if they hit the ground.