Central to USA Cheer’s mission is promoting safety and safety education for all participants, as well as growing and developing interest and participation in cheer throughout the United States. The two goals are closely intertwined – we believe that cheerleading is a safe and valuable experience for athletes and that participation in cheerleading will help athletes develop not just physical benefits, but lifelong lessons as well.

The American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators (AACCA) is now operating under USA Cheer, and our partnership has been tremendously beneficial to both organizations. Since its founding in 1987, AACCA has addressed the safety concerns of cheerleading and has taken the lead in the development of cheerleading safety regulations, coaches’ education and risk management. Within USA Cheer, we work closely with AACCA and the National Alliance for School Cheerleading (NASC) to communicate goals and procedures for school-based teams.

The National Federation of State High Schools (NFHS), which governs the rules of competition for most high school sports and activities in the United States, has also endorsed the USA Cheer/AACCA Coaches certification, and hosts the course on its website. At the college level, the NCAA has required all teams to be supervised by someone with a valid safety credential since 2006.

Having the support of NASC, NFHS and NCAA is important to us, and serves as validation that the USA Cheer/AACCA Coaches Certification has been established as the benchmark for cheerleading safety. Currently, more than 20,000 cheerleading coaches are up to date with their certification.

USA Cheer Recommendation for Competitions

For 2020, USA Cheer recommends that all coaches complete the USA Cheer/AACCA Safety Risk Management certification course.  The NASC has specified that at least one coach per school program participating in a national cheerleading championship attain this certification. The course is accessible online or in person, and certification is valid for four years.

This recommendation coincides with the fourth edition of USA Cheer/AACCA Cheerleading Safety Manual released earlier this month.

How to Get Certified:

Online: The online course takes between 3 and 6 hours. Coaches can take the USA Cheer/AACCA safety course on USACheer.org/safety or on the NFHS site.

In Person: In-person courses are available at coaches’ conferences across the country. They are three hours in length, followed by a 60-90 minute exam. Coaches can find a conference on USACheer.org or through their state cheerleading association.

USA Cheer is committed to protecting the health of the athletes that participate in cheerleading, and know that having more coaches certified creates a safer environment for all involved. In addition to our latest manual we have created a rules training course and a rules interpreter course as optional additional resources to better educate coaches on rules and safety. I’m including our most recent safety update newsletter that outlines all of these changes. If you have any questions, please contact Jim Lord at jlord@usacheer.org.