AACCA Releases Cheerleading Rules for High School and Younger
(A press release has also been issued here)
The AACCA released its “2010-11 School Cheer Safety Rules” today which include some changes for all school teams along with the first ever set of rules specifically for elementary, middle and junior high school cheer teams.
Changes affecting all school teams:
- Released stunt transitions must be braced on at least one side. This effectively removes skills such as free-standing Tic Tocs. Load-in releases such as a Switch Lib are still allowed as they do not begin in a stunt.
- In stunts where the top person falls away from the bases in a flat body position (also known as a Pendulum) the top person must be caught by at least three catchers. Previous AACCA rules required a minimum of two catchers.
While these particular skills have not had specific safety issues, the changes were made to further the continued efforts by the AACCA and National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) to have a more consistent set of cheerleading rules. This change effectively means that there is only one remaining major difference between these two sets of rules. The AACCA restricts all released twists on basketball court surfaces without a mat, while the NFHS Spirit Rules currently allow up to one and one-quarter twists on the basketball court surface.
Changes affecting elementary, middle and junior high school teams:
- All basket tosses and double full twisting dismounts are prohibited on all surfaces.
This year is the first time there have been different rules for these school divisions. Over the past years, those in the cheerleading industry, including safety organizations such as AACCA as well as administrators and event producers, have seen more teams at these levels performing advanced skills for which they were not prepared. Poor execution results in more falls, and more falls increase the opportunity for injury.
In addition, high school coaches are seeing more incoming cheerleaders who have advanced too quickly and do not have the proper fundamental technique for performing some of the upper level skills. For these reasons, the AACCA rules committee decided to add a further restriction on stunts for elementary, middle and junior high school teams.
While there are certainly teams at this age level that can safely perform these skills, the rules are not written for the elite just as they aren’t written for the beginner. These changes will allow coaches, who are nearly always full-time teachers in the school, to focus on fundamentals without the pressure of having to teach the most advanced skills. Cheerleaders at these schools will perform more repetitions of elevators, extensions and even full twisting dismounts before arriving at the high school level where they can develop more advanced skills.
About the AACCA rules
These rules are written for school teams and do not directly address all-star or youth recreational programs. There is a difference in the focus of school cheerleading, a limit on the talent pool from which teams are selected, and a certain level of risk acceptance on the part of administrators of a public entity.
Since there have been no rules other than those written specifically for high school teams, many elementary, middle and junior high schools and state associations have directed their cheerleading teams to follow the high school rules. We strongly recommend that in addition to the rules (NFHS or AACCA) that they currently follow, they add the restrictions included in section F of the 2010-11 AACCA School Cheer Rules.
As we get email questions, we will update this section with clarifications on the new rules. If necessary, we will update the actual rules page. Please check back often. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
- These rules apply to practice, game and competition.
- (Rule C-5) “Low to High” Switch Liberties where the back remains in contact with the top person are not “released”, therefore they are not prohibited. At the point of release from the bases, the backspot becomes the main base and the bases become the spotters, which reverses once the original bases are back in contact with the top person.
- (Rule C-5) A load-in position where the top person is off of the ground and supported by bases (Example: elevator load-in, sponge load) is considered to be a stunt by definition. Therefore an elevator load-in, ball up to stretch is illegal unless it is braced before the release from the bases/backspot. A basket load-in to extension would be legal if braced or if the backspot remains in contact throughout the transition.
- (Rule F-1) “Multibased tosses” means sponge tosses or elevator tosses that originate from below shoulder level and use a throwing motion to get the top person into the air. An elevator or extension cradle does not meet this criteria. Elevator cradles and extension cradles are not “tosses” and are allowed.
- (Rule F) The basket toss and double down prohibitions are for elementary school, middle school and junior high school teams. A 9th grade or JV team in a high school is not restricted by the middle school/jr. high rules.