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Safety

Because of the nature of cheerleading and the additional need or impairments that some athletes may have there are more safety requirements and infractions in inclusive cheerleading divisions than with classical cheer. Please take these into account while choreographing and training your athletes. We have also taken a deep dive into some of these restrictions below to advise further.

The full rules are available to download from the ICU website here

MOBILITY & SUPPORT DEVICE RULES

(Special Olympics, Special Abilities & Adaptive Abilities Divisions, and all Divisions-as applicable) Note: The use of the term “wheelchair” below also applies to the use of scooters and similar mobility devices, as is applicable.

  1. All mobility equipment, prosthesis, and braces are considered part of the athlete unless they are removed, in which case they are considered legal props, until replaced on or returned to the athlete.

  2. Wheelchair users when basing stunts and pyramids must have all wheels in contact with the performance surface during the skill with an added and appropriate anti-tip attachment (or a spotter/bracer with both feet firmly placed on the performance surface with both hands gripped on the 2 back handles stabilizing the wheelchair with both wheels on the performance surface) for safety. Clarification For a wheelchair anti-tip attachment to be appropriate, it must be in contact with the chair and the performance surface as an additional point of contact to the performance surface while both wheels of the wheelchair are also in contact with the performance surface. 11

  3. Mobility devices (i.e. wheelchairs, crutches, etc.) may be used to aid the top person in loading into a stunt and/or pyramid. Example: A top person may step upon any portion of a wheelchair, mobile device, and/or upon a base supporting a crutch to load into a skill.

  4. Wheelchair users when topping stunts and pyramids in the wheelchair (or similar apparatus) must use a seatbelt.

  5. All athletes spotting, catching and/or cradling a skill have mobility through their lower body (with or without use of mobility equipment) to absorb the impact of the skill, as well as with adequate lateral speed to spot, catch and/or cradle the skill.

  6. All athletes spotting, catching and/or cradling a skill must have at minimum 1 arm extended, not including a prosthetic or other device, beyond the elbow to adequately assist with the skill.

  7. Release moves and dismounts may be caught by individuals who were not the original base(s) if the main base(s) are not capable of catching and/or cradling the skill.

 

 

ADAPTIVE ABILITIES DIVISION SPECIFIC CRITERIA

  1. All ICU general rules & guidelines, mobility/support devices rules, as well as routine requirements apply.

  2. As a potential condition for an athlete with an intellectual disability or neurological symptom, any athlete that may potentially have Atlanto-Axial Instability (AAI) or any physical condition associated with spinal cord compression, coaches must reference Section XIV. “Spinal Cord Compression/Atlantoaxial Instability (AAI) Rules & Guidelines.”

  3. All Adaptive Abilities Unified National Teams must be comprised of a minimum 25% or more Athletes with a disability per team. Clarification: Adaptive Abilities Athlete qualification is subject to respective ICU general rules and guidelines, as well as National Federation confirmation and/or medical documentation, as requested. Please see Cheerleading Team Divisions Rules & Regulations (CTDRR) Section XV for more information.

  4. All athletes spotting, catching and/or cradling a skill must have mobility through their lower body 15 (with or without use of mobility equipment) to absorb the impact of the skill, as well as with adequate lateral speed to spot, catch and/or cradle the skill.

  5. All athletes spotting, catching and/or cradling a skill must have at minimum 1 arm extended, not including a prosthetic or other device, beyond the elbow to adequately assist with the skill.

  6. Release moves and dismounts may be caught by individuals who were not the original base(s) if the main base(s) are not capable of catching and/or cradling the skill.

  7. Basket tosses are not allowed.
     

These Rules have been put in place for the purpose of safety, to encourage inclusive practices, and prevent accidental discrimination against athletes with specific needs. They have been developed from years of trial and error and are there to prevent coaches and athletes making similar mistakes to the sports pioneers. We are not saying it's not possible to achieve stunts that have been banned on this list, especially things like cradling with a mobility impairment, we do believe however that it's not worth the risk to athletes safety to attempt them. Please be respectful of these adjustments we are making to the classical cheerleading rules, they are done with love and a great deal of consideration from some of the industries most experienced judges, athletes and coaches. 

Safety Deck

Wheelchair anti-tips

Wheelchair Anti tips

•Wheelchair user must have an appropriate anti-tip attached to the back of their chair / or another athlete whose sole role at that time is to support the back of the chair from tipping over

• The anti-tip needs to be further out from the back of the chair than the main wheels

•When the front wheels are in contact with the floor the anti-tip must also be in contact at the rear

•A single point anti-tip is sufficient for most group stunt work, but it is highly recommended that a dual point (two wheels in contact behind the chair) anti-tip is used for dual based, partner stunts and highly dynamic group stunts e.g. full ups

•Without an anti-tip, or bracing base, any stunt held above gut level by a wheelchair user has a high chance of knocking the wheelchair using athlete over backwards as their rear wheels are not designed to brace those forces

Catching Cradles

“All athletes spotting, catching and/or cradling a skill must have mobility through their lower body (with or without use of mobility equipment) to absorb the impact of the skill

•And with adequate lateral speed to spot, catch and/or cradle the skill.”

•Catching cradles is especially dangerous for those in wheelchairs as even if they are strong in their upper body and have the support of other bases if they were to miss or slip the flyer would land with their lower back over the knees and frame of the wheelchair which is a serious safety risk for the flyer

•The specific division criteria allows for release moves and cradles to be caught by athletes who are not the original bases which is not usually allowed at that level in classical cheerleading divisions

•We refer to the action of a flyer being cradled away from their original base in these instances as a “Clear-away Cradle”

•When throwing a Clear-away Cradle the flyer must still land within arms reach of the mobility impaired base to prevent teams abusing the rule to transition a flyer or to throw stunts like Gauntlets

Base support

A base support is an athlete whose role within a stunt, transition, or other part of the choreography is to assist another athlete with their needs or adaptation.

•The base support may change roles within the choreography as with any other role

•With base supports there is no need for athletes from outside the team to assist and spot or for coaches to be present reminding athletes of the routine.

Some base support roles

•Help a wheelchair using athlete keep a stunt in the right position

•Stabilising a stunt for a base with limb difference

•assisting a wheelchair user or visually impaired athlete around the space

•marking the timing or remembering the routine for an athlete with memory or intellectual difficulties

• catching a cradle for an athlete with mobility restriction.