Injuries in Cheerleading
Updated: Nov 13, 2019
Any athlete who participates in a sport is constantly aware of the risk of injury. Cheerleaders, in particular, are at significant risk when stunting because they are either being thrown 10-15 feet in the air or are catching fliers when they fall. Safety measures are put into place, but they cannot prevent every injury. Their coaches are always aware of the risks during the sport and they try to take the right precautionary measures to prevent as many injuries as they can.
The most common and widely recognized injury in cheerleading is the concussion: a mild traumatic brain injury caused by a sudden blow, bump or jolt to the head that causes the brain to move around in the skull. When athletes are being thrown into the air and are depending on the people beneath them to keep them safe, any number of things can go wrong. When someone hits their head on anything, a concussion is possible. The flier might hit their head on someone’s head or arm when landing, and vice-versa for bases. During a stunt, an arm could be out of place during a landing, or a mid-air spin could make the body land funny, causing an injury to the limb they landed on.
Athletes can be required to refrain from activities for periods of time ranging from days to weeks, during which they cannot participate in anything. Payton Moody, sophomore, is out with a concussion from when her flier’s elbow hit her in the head during stunt practice. Kiersten Pate, freshman, injured her right knee when a teammate landed on it.
Athletic injuries hurt more than just the body. Athletes have to watch their teammates’ progress without being allowed to join and improve with their team. Moody said, “[Since I’m] not completely cleared, [I can’t practice] so it's slowing me down a lot because everyone’s progressing and I can’t.” The injury can affect the player long after it has healed, leaving them with a lingering sense of uncertainty in future events. Their instincts will hold them back from participating in the activity that they were doing when they were hurt, trying to protect them, which can lead to an even worse injury.
Injuries in cheer typically occur during stunting when communication between the four positions goes wrong. Coach Ty Camacho said, “They all know that they are gonna do one thing at the same time, and if one person gets afraid or forgets or decides that they aren't going to do it the way all four have already communicated they are going to do it, that's when injury happens.” An injured athlete having to sit out spells disaster for their whole stunt group. With no back-ups for when a player is out with an injury, the entire stunt group will sit until their hurt teammate is better.
Cheer is a dangerous sport to participate in. The dangers present only show how determined the team is when they are performing during a game or competition. Participating can always hold risk, but the reward outweighs the risk to the team. The passion each athlete has for the sport dulls the risk enough so they can participate as best they can.