College cheerleading rules changes for the 2020-21 school year have been released, with the focus remaining on risk minimization.
The twelve rules changes for this year address the use of hard casts, performance surfaces, spotting requirements, and twisting and flipping skills in stunts and pyramids. While allowing some new skills where risk did not increase, most changes addressed restrictions to minimize risk.
“We know that catastrophic injuries have dropped dramatically in cheer according to the high school and college studies,” said Jim Lord, Director of Education and Programs for USA Cheer. “That is the result of increased safety awareness and training for coaches and cheerleaders, but it is also due to the ongoing efforts of the rules committees.”
Rule C.8 was added, clarifying the use of braces, supports, and soft casts, and prohibiting participants from wearing a hard cast or walking boot while participating in skills.
In stunting, a spotter is now only required for extended handstands, but must still be present for any releases to handstands (Rule D.6). Rule D.10 limits released load-ins to stunts to two and one quarter twists, while another rule (D.10) regarding flipping into and from stunts now allows a single twist. Two changes to Rule D.13 prohibit twisting during flips that land on the performing surface and allow flips to initiate from a cradle or horizontal position below shoulders.
In pyramids, Rule E.2.d was added to clarify that a required spotter for a pyramid is not allowed to support under the foot of a middle layer or under the hand of a base. Rule E.2.h states that only bases or middle layers are allowed to support fifty percent or more of another person’s weight. This rule change allows visual connections but means that a top person in a pyramid cannot be holding primary weight. Handstands that begin on the performing surface or in a stunt may release to an inverted position in a pyramid, but they may not flip or twist, and must have two people involved in the skill (Rule E.4). Rule E.5 mirrors the stunt rule that released loads or dismounts in pyramids are limited to two and one quarter twists. And finally, the restriction on basket loads for flips into pyramids was removed, allowing a more stable load technique for these skills (Rule E.9).
The last rule change adds inversion releases to the list of skills in Rule H.1 that are only allowed on a mat, grass, or rubberized track surface.
The College Cheerleading Rules can be found in their entirety on USA Cheer’s website at usacheer.org under the “Safety/Education” tab. In addition to the current rules, coaches may submit proposals there for rules changes or wording changes for clarity. USA Cheer will also be providing online education regarding the rules changes as well as ongoing video interpretations throughout the year.