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Spirit rules changes focus on increasing creativity

Times Staff Report

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INDIANAPOLIS - Allowing for more creative routines by high school spirit participants was one of the main factors behind the 15 rule changes made by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Spirit Rules Committee.


The committee approved the changes during its March 2-4 meeting in Indianapolis. All revisions were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors and will become effective with the 2013-14 season.


Many of the changes involved clarifying the meaning of previous rules. Through this process, several rules obtained new interpretations that allow for more creativity in competitions.


Several changes were made in Rule 2-5, including a revision that increases the height restriction for the base of support while also providing spotter and base requirements for inversions. In addition, Rule 2-5-3 now consolidates suspended forward and backward rolls into one rule and permits the use of a single-base or post to assist with a suspended forward roll to a two-person cradle. Rule 2-5-4 now allows for more creativity in landings for braced flips.


“The revision to Rule 2-5 that was adopted last year allowed squads to be more creative in stunt design while still maintaining the focus on risk minimization,” said Kent Summers, NFHS director of performing arts and sports and liaison to the Spirit Rules Committee. “This rewrite of the rule for 2013-14 will make it easier for coaches to understand the parameters for inversions and will allow for even more creativity while still maintaining the focus on risk minimization.”


Rule 2-6-4 was revised to state that three bases were necessary to catch the upper body of a top person when moved from an extended vertical position to a face-up or face-down position.


“The revision to Rule 2-6-4 clarifies the number of bases/catchers needed to perform these types of stunts,” Summers said. “With these additional stipulations, stunts that begin or pass through an extended position will be allowed. This will increase creativity in stunt design while maintaining our focus on risk minimization.”


In other revisions, Rule 2-4-7 allows for triple-base, extended-straddle sits with a post instead of a spotter. In addition, the committee voted to permit an exception to the release transition rule. This exception allows a horizontal top person who is no higher than shoulder level to be released to a loading position for another stunt.


The committee also approved a revision to Rule 2-10-2 allowing for a competitor to hold a pom in one’s free hand while performing a one-handed cartwheel.


According to a survey of NFHS-member state associations in 2009, there are about 400,000 high school cheerleaders in the United States, including 108,307 who are involved in competitive spirit squads, which ranks ninth among girls sports according to the 2011-12 High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the NFHS. There are also 28,782 girls who participate in dance or drill teams, according to the same survey.

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