Cheering Yourself To Safety

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Whether on the sidelines of a football, soccer or basketball game, cheerleading is as physical a task as the sport itself. With this, you as a cheerleader, must be as prepared for the event just as much as the athlete on the playing field. As with the sport itself, safe cheerleading begins at practice.

Have you ever heard the phrase, "you play like you practice"? In athletics, this refers to practicing hard to be best prepared to compete at the highest level when the actual game begins. It is much the same with cheerleading, but at a somewhat different level.

Instead, safe cheerleading should be about solid preparation. Practices should not be held without the presence of a qualified coach. The practice facility should be an appropriate location away from others and if indoors, have proper equipment such as padded mats and have sufficient lighting too.

If outdoors, the ground surface should be level and free of any obstacles, both man made and items left by Mother Nature, like sticks and stones.

Never practice on wet grounds or near concrete or asphalt surfaces.

When outdoors for practice or when cheering on your favorite team on game day, you should dress properly for the conditions. With no intent to insult your intelligence, when it's cold, dress warm, especially wearing a hat, ear muffs and gloves in extreme cases. If at any point you feel numbness of any extremity, this could be the onset of frostbite and you should seek a warm shelter to have it checked.

Conversely, when warm, wear light, loose clothing and drink plenty of water. If sunny, always apply a high SPF grade sunscreen lotion to exposed skin. Should at any time you experience light headiness or just not feel well, advise a superior immediately and seek medical attention if necessary. Heat exhaustion is a very common, yet extremely serious condition.

As an aside to weather conditions, other dressing recommendations should include no jewelry of any kind and only soft soled athletic footwear.

Now back to the principles of safe cheerleading practice themselves. Before participating in any physical activity, one of the more important aspects of your warm up should be stretching.Be sure your arms, legs and back feel nice and limber before proceeding with a routine.Routines that are elevated and/or include gymnastics of any kind, must always be attempted at ground level first. As you feel more comfortable, go slightly higher until the particular exercise feels more natural.Always have a spotter, no matter how confident you may be because another well-known phrase applies here, "accidents happen ". Should an accident occur resulting in any type of injury involving swelling, immediately apply ice to the affected area. A well-stocked first aid kit should always be available at both practice and the actual events.

One of the very basic elements of safe cheerleading is communication. Don't take anything for granted.Always make your team members aware of your next move and talk to one another as a natural part of the ebb and flow of each exercise.Should anything seem array, speak up quickly to rectify the situation.

Have fun and don't forget to smile.
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