Recommendations for Cheer Programs

A. Eligibility and Team Expectations

  1. High school cheerleaders and coaches are required to adhere to THE BYLAWS OF THE KENTUCKY HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION (KHSAA) to be eligible to participate in high school cheerleading.
  2. Elementary and middle school cheerleaders and coaches must adhere to their district and school policies and procedures regarding eligibility, participation, and conduct. KAPOS suggests that all cheer teams have a specific handbook that outlines expectations and code of conduct for participating team members. It is recommended that the handbook be provided and explained to parents/guardians and prospective cheerleaders prior to selecting a team. Coaches should maintain a signed acknowledgement from parents/guardians and cheerleaders.

B. Coaches

  1. KAPOS strongly recommends that all coaches become a member of the state’s cheer organization (KAPOS) for current information on trends in cheer, coaching principles, KAPOS competition scoring criteria, safety recommendations, and additional liability insurance.
  2. Coaches should attend annual coaching workshops and regional meetings sponsored by KAPOS.
  3. Coaches are encouraged to attend the annual cheer judges training provided by KAPOS/KHSAA. Obtaining judging credentials provides coaches with additional knowledge needed to create, coach, and critique competitive routines.
  4. Coaches should be knowledgeable of and adhere to all National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS) spirit rules applicable to their grade level.
  5. A school recognized coach covered by liability insurance should accompany the cheer team to all school sponsored events and practices. It is advised that emergency contact information, insurance, and sports physical for each team member be kept with a coach at all times.
  6. Coaches should only allow cheerleaders to perform those stunts and tumbling skills that they are qualified to teach. KAPOS strongly encourages coaches to train and utilize stunt and tumbling progressions for the safety of team members. Stunting and tumbling should only be performed on an appropriate performance surface.

C. Tryouts

  1. High school cheerleaders and coaches are required to adhere to THE BYLAWS OF THE KENTUCKY HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION (KHSAA) regarding cheerleading tryouts. Elementary and middle school cheerleaders and coaches should follow their district and school policies regarding tryouts.
  2. Students interested in trying out for cheer teams should provide coaches with a sports physical signed by a physician prior to any practice or tryout session.
  3. KAPOS suggests that all cheer teams have a specific handbook that outlines expectations and code of conduct for participating team members. It is recommended that the handbook be provided and explained to parents/guardians and prospective cheerleaders prior to selecting a team. Coaches should maintain a signed acknowledgement from parents/guardians and cheerleaders.
  4. All students should be notified at least one (1) week before practice sessions for tryouts begin. Coaches should notify prospective cheerleaders and their parent/guardian of the selection criteria.
  5. Coaches may select their cheer team or obtain outside judges for the selection process.

D. In-Game Cheer

  1. The home team cheerleaders should greet the visiting cheerleaders and acquaint them to the facility.
  2. All cheerleaders should leave the performance area when the buzzer sounds or when players enter the playing area.
  3. A team should not cheer against an opposing team or player.
  4. Cheerleaders cannot cheer in the extended free throw lane area while the ball is in play.
  5. NFHS rules apply at all times. Please refer to KAPOS and KHSAA handbooks for all safety considerations during games and during In-Game competitions.

E. Competitive Cheer

  1. Coaches should be knowledgeable of National Federation Spirit Rules Book as NFHS rules apply at all times.
  2. Coaches should refer to KAPOS and KHSAA websites for all safety considerations, scoring guides, and competitive cheer scoresheets for all KAPOS or KHSAA sponsored competitions.
  3. Coaches should attend all regional KAPOS meetings and coaches conferences to maintain proper continuing education and current cheer information.
  4. It is the coaches’ responsibility to ensure that all outside choreographers are knowledgeable of KAPOS/KHSAA rules and applicable scoresheets.
  5. If a school chooses to sponsor a cheer competition for a fundraising or showcase event, KAPOS recommends that the competition follow KHSAA and/or KAPOS guidelines, utilize KHSAA and/or KAPOS scoresheets, and obtain KHSAA/KAPOS qualified judges.

F. Resources for Coaches