Guidelines for Return-to-play
Stunting and tumbling put cheerleaders at risk for traumatic brain injuries. In fact, a recent report found that cheerleading is second in concussions behind football. To help coaches and parents determine when a cheerleader can return to cheerleading, the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators recently published the first guidelines:
- Stage 1 – No cheerleading/dance/gymnastics activity without physician’s approval.
- Stage 2 – Continue basic exercise allowing a slightly elevated heart rate such as fast walking, stationary bike or slow elliptical.
- Stage 3 – Begin moderate exercise, but cheerleading remains limited to cheers and chants. You may now introduce quick movements of the head and mild/moderate dances.
- Stage 4 – Begin low-level cheerleading activities such as basic gymnastics and basic stunting. Limit gymnastics to single-rotation in hand-supported position like cartwheels and roundoffs. Sidelined cheers are permitted but no live activity or practicing of competition routines.
- Stage 5 – Begin moderate-level cheerleading activities. Limit stunting to double legged, extension level activities with simple dismounts and added spotter. Limit gymnastics to basic and moderate tumbling passes with a maximum of two rotations and no twisting per any single pass.
- Return to full participation – Pending physician approval cheerleader may begin full participation including advanced stunts, advanced gymnastics and advanced dances. May practice, compete and participate in sideline activities.