Cheerleading accounts for 65% of all female catastrophic injuries in high school

So why has there been a dramatic increase in the number of cheerleading injuries, including catastrophic injuries, during the last 25 years? The answer is easy. All one has to do is compare cheerleading in 1960 with cheerleading in 2009. In the 1960s, cheerleaders were shaking pompoms, and the only stunt they performed was a short jump off the ground. Their main purpose was to get the crowd to cheer for their team: thus the word cheerleader. Cheerleading coaches in 1960 may have been ex-cheerleaders, but they were not required to have a coaching background or certification because safety was not a problem. In 2009, cheerleading is a gymnastic activity, and why it is still called cheerleading is not quite clear. It is a competitive contact sport that involves all types of gymnastic stunts, pyramids, and partner stunts as well as throwing flyers high in the air and catching them (we hope). Coaching has not kept up with the changes in cheerleading, but coaching certification programs have become available during the past 10 years. In many cases, safety issues have been associated with coaches who do not have the expertise to teach the skills that today’s cheerleaders need. Cheerleading associations have also not kept up with the safety needs of the sport; if it were not for the catastrophic data collection that started 26 years ago, safety would still not be a high priority. The lesson learned in football injury data collection can also be applied to cheerleading: injuries may never be totally eliminated, but with reliable injury data collection systems, constant analysis of the data, and the development, evaluation, and dissemination of effective injury prevention strategies, these injuries can be dramatically reduced.1