USA Cheer and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) have reached an agreement to publish one set of rules for high school cheerleading the 2020-21 season under the NFHS Rule Book.

Since the late 1980s, USA Cheer (previously as the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators) and the NFHS have produced separate sets of rules for high school cheerleading. Over the last 20 years, USA Cheer and the NFHS both strived toward aligning the two sets of rules. In fact, in the past 5 years, the two sets of rules have become virtually identical, with only minor differences in wording.

USA Cheer’s current recommendation to prohibit basket and sponge tosses for elementary, junior high, and middle school cheerleaders remains in effect.  For the latest updates for rules for all disciplines of cheer, visit usacheer.org.

With this new partnership, modeled after that of US Lacrosse and the NFHS, the former advisory position USA Cheer has had on the NFHS rules committee is now a full voting membership. This expands the rules committee from the eight section-based voting members to nine voting members.

This will allow USA Cheer to expand educational opportunities, as there will be one set of rules to reference. USA Cheer will be able to modify its existing rules courses and interpretation videos for coaches and rules interpreters so that they reference the NFHS rule book instead of having to address both sets of rules.

With the recent COVID-19 health crisis and its effect on gatherings and travel, cheer coaches and officials have missed opportunities for rules and safety training at state and national conferences. USA Cheer will be offering a low-cost solution for coaches across the country to access comprehensive rules training through its education platform at usacheer.org.  The USA Cheer Safety & Risk Management Course is also available through the platform as well as at the NFHS Learning Center (nfhslearn.com.)

Cheerleading coaches and rules interpreters will be able to complete a comprehensive online rules course with video examples that covers the entire set of rules, or a course that is specific to the new changes for the current season.  The rules courses will come with an option to purchase the NFHS rule book as well. This will greatly increase the educational opportunities for new and veteran coaches.  The rules interpreters’ course and rule interpretation videos will help provide a standard training for officials across the country.

The USA Cheer Safety & Risk Management Course is available for coaches now. Look for the new rules courses to be available before the summer at usacheer.org/safety.

Get the latest safety updates by signing up for the USA Cheer newsletters here!

Summary of the 2020-21 High School Rules:

All released pyramids can make a one-quarter turn around the bracer while released. The bracers can turn but cannot travel during the release.

This change creates consistency across all braced releases.

Bases must not hold objects when supporting an extended stunt.

This rule change allows the base of a non-extended stunt to hand or take a sign or prop with a hand that is not supporting a top person. The top person is still prohibited from releasing a sign to the ground.

Braced flips can make up to one complete twist

Baja-type braced flips that were limited to ½ twist may now complete a twist into a cradle instead of landing on the stomach.

A released inversion can land in a stunt at any level with up to ¼ twist.

This change allows inversions that release to a stunt to land in an arabesque or other ¼ turn stunt in one motion.

A prep level inversion no longer needs upper body contact.

This change allows inversions from loads, flatbacks, or from the ground to twist into the inverted position as long as someone on the ground is always in contact with the top person.

The braced released dismount rule has been removed. Braced released dismounts now follow the braced release stunt rule found in Rule 3, Section 5.

A braced release pyramid can go to a cradle position with hand-to-foot contact as long as it has a double based prep with a spotter.

This change allows a double based prep with a spot to hold the foot of a top person during a release to a cradle position. The top person may twist during the release. Any other landing requires a hand/arm-to-hand/arm connection.

A horizontal release can go to any level with no more than ¼ twist.

This change aligns this release with inversion releases and allows proper progression. Note that it cannot fully release and land inverted. If the horizontal release land in a horizontal position, it fits the definition of a log roll and is subject to the log roll rules.

Removed the word “handspring” from the drop rules.

This deletion should clarify that a handspring can land in a pushup position, since it is not actually a “drop” by definition.

A base and top may grasp a shared pom in order to build or dismount a stunt.

This is an interpretation clarification. If a top person is building or dismounting with poms in their hands, they can take hands with the base while holding the pom. The intent of the rule restricting poms in supporting hands was directed at stunts like preps or flatbacks where the base had props in their supporting hands.