AACCA has published the 2012-2013 College Rules and Jim Lord has published a summary on CheerRules.com.
During the past week several cheerleading rules changes were handed down, including by the NFHS, AACCA, and USASF. All of these changes led to numerous comments on Facebook, Twitter, and the Fierce Board about why specific changes were made, but the USASF changes led to several questions about how the changes were made.
The USASF publicized a Rules Change Process earlier in the season, but the recent changes didn’t follow the published procedures. These changes came directly from the USASF Board of Directors. In their defense, the Board of Directors has always reserved the right to do just about anything they wanted to, but I don’t recall another time in which that right has been exercised and have bypassed the National Advisory Board, Rules Committee, and industry staples such as Les Stella and Debbie Love.
The reason I bring this up is because I want everyone to take a look at the way these types of changes are made. Are we better off with the AACCA or NFHS model of making changes, in which relatively few people get input, but changes can be made much more quickly or are we better off with the published USASF method in which changes are made every couple of years after getting input from everyone that is willing to provide feedback? Is having a Board that can make changes outside of the published process a good idea so things can get done in case of emergency or a bad idea because that authority can be misused?
This all leads to the final questions.If you were designing the perfect process for making rules changes what would it be? What elements of AACCA, NFHS, and USASF’s process would you keep and which would you change?
Dear AACCA Certified Coaches,
I hope this email finds you well and ready to wrap up your cheer seasons as we wind down the school year. I want to update you on the new rules changes for high schools that are about to be released. As I told the Georgia Cheer Coaches Association this past week, some of you are going to have to forget most of what you know about the high school rules! Please let me know if you have any questions, or join our new discussion forum listed at the bottom of this email.
The new high school rules have been approved and will be announced today by the NFHS and AACCA. We had a joint conference committee in January that was designed to have the two sets of rules get back to the consistency we had many years ago. This involved both organizations looking at the reasons for having longstanding rules as well as what rules could be combined into a simpler “class” of rules. These classes of rules will help eliminate some of the uncertainty by coaches and nitpicking by rules interpreters when the skill is considered to be safe. The end result is that the NFHS and AACCA rules are closer than ever, and there are very few and minor differences. We are working to outline those differences so they can be addressed in the next rules cycle.
Yes, No Double Downs
The rumor is true. Both rules committees banned double twisting dismounts. The new rules replace the “2 1/4 twists” language with “1 1/4 twists”. We have all seen the decline in performance of these skills even as we have seen an increase in the number of attempts. While there are pockets where teams have improved through coaches education and judging criteria, the nation overall has not responded well to the years of warnings we’ve been giving. The final decision was easy once we were presented with two years of data showing that while the overall injury rate for cheer is low, head injuries – especially at practice – are high. Add to that the fact that the majority of those head injuries are from body to body contact and we knew it was the right decision.
We also required a spotter for single base shoulder stands where the base is holding the top’s feet. We were seeing more and more of this type of skill, which leaves the top person with no protection should she buckle and fall off the back.
Give and Take
That should really be “take and give”. In addition to the new restrictions, both rules committees are allowing two new classes of inverted stunts that add creativity without increasing risk.
The first is that all inversions below shoulder level are allowed. There are specific requirements in place, such as constant contact with a base or spotter and contact with two bases/spotters in a low inversion that is descending. An example of these would be a yoyo, a cradle to a back walkover, or a handstand on a double based thighstand. You can even now do a cartwheel over the thighs of someone else. All of these will allow for more creativity in choreography without additional risk of injury.
The second major addition is that we are now allowing braced suspended rolls/flips. This is a skill that is allowed for Level 3 and 4 all stars and is done with relatively little risk of injury. It must be braced on both sides by elevator preps with spotters and must have at least three people catching for a total of 12 people involved in this skill. It is not allowed to twist, so it is basically a front or back braced flip to a cradle, stunt or loading position. I get videos of these every month from someone asking if it is legal and I have had to tell them it is not. In each case, even the mediocre teams, I was given no reason for concern about the safety of the skill itself.
There are many other changes that tweak the rules in order to make it easier to follow as well as to align with the NFHS rules. One example is that we removed the rule that allowed a release transition as long as it made no more than 12 inches of separation between the top and bases. The NFHS now allows teams in braced pyramids to make up to a 1/4 turn around the bracer like our rules have allowed.
I am very pleased with the developments of this year’s AACCA and NFHS rules committees. They looked at the athletes and the available data and determined that they could help minimize the head injuries in cheer while also allowing more freedom to perform skills that are safe to perform. The new rules are now posted at http://www.aacca.org/hsrules. There is a link there for a complete summary of the changes as well.
As always, thank you for everything you do for cheerleading safety!