Injury Prevention in Cheerleading

December 2, 2023 10:40:15 AM EST | Lauren Pennington

My name is Lauren Pennington. I'm a former All Star cheer athlete and current USASF Leadership Facilitator. As a graduate student at Baylor University, where I'm studying athlete training, my dream is to continue my passion for cheerleading by merging my love for helping athletes with the All Star world. Currently, I am working on a research project for my program studying All Star cheer coaches’ knowledge and attitude toward injury prevention. My goal is to understand what their opinions and beliefs are before I can work with other athletic trainers and medical professionals on an actual injury prevention program so we can best figure out how to successfully implement the program!

Hear my experience of All Star and learn about my research project by reading on.

What was your experience as an All Star athlete like?

My experience as an All Star athlete shaped me into who I am today. I competed with three D2 gyms and finished my career at a D1 gym where my teams had great successes and unfortunate losses. I learned the importance of teamwork and attitude at a young age and the effect of kindness to others when you may not be having the best day.

Lauren Pennington_3Like any other person, my life had its ups and downs, but I always had practice to count on. I knew I had a place to go after school and on the weekends where I could push myself and be encouraged by my teammates. When I had family members pass away, my teammates were always there for me, and when any of my teammates went through something, they knew I was there for them. My experience as an All Star athlete gave me a passion for injuries and later on for leadership— two things that I am still pursuing to this day.

Through my experiences as an All Star athlete, I am able to better relate to the athletes I work with and help keep them motivated to get back to sport quickly and safely.

You participated in USASF leadership programs, and you were a member of the AAC. What was your experience like and how did this help prepare you for life after All Star?

My participation in BOLT in 2017 was the nudge I needed to begin my leadership journey. Learning from the USASF Leadership team about how I could be a leader without being the captain inspired me to become a leader on my All Star team and at my school. I loved it so much that I returned for BOLT 2018 expectant to learn even more. After this, I applied for the inaugural AAC (USASF Athletic Advisory Council) and was able to serve as a voice for All Star athletes across the country. This position on the AAC motivated me to take action and speak up on my college cheer team and I am now on the Southwest Athletic Trainers’ Association Student Senate, where we represent athletic training students from Texas and Arkansas.


You're currently a student at Baylor University studying athletic training. Can you tell us more about what inspired you to pursue that degree?

Growing up in All Star cheer, I suffered many injuries. Some of which I was able to push through, some of which caused me to miss several weeks’ worth of practices.

Lauren Pennington_2As a student athletic trainer in high school, I learned how I could continue working in the cheerleading world and help athletes return to their sport safely and effectively after injury. Through my experiences as an All Star athlete, I am able to better relate to the athletes I work with and help keep them motivated to get back to sport quickly and safely.


And you're working on a research project that is bringing you back into the All Star world. What are you exploring with your research?

I am currently working on a research project as a requirement for my graduate degree, looking at All Star cheer coaches’ current knowledge and attitude toward injury prevention programs.


How do you envision your research helping the All Star community?

Injuries are inevitable in sports, but there are ways to reduce the risks and prevent some injuries. If I can assess what coaches currently believe and understand about injury prevention, I can work with other researchers and coaches in the future to create an injury prevention program to help lower those risks of injury and potentially increase the successes of the athletes in All Star.

The US All Star Federation (USASF) was founded in 2003 with the core principle of making All Star a safer sport by establishing fair and consistent rules and competition standards. The organization credentials coaches, certifies safety judges, sanctions events and maintains and adjusts (as needed) safety guidelines, all with the goal of providing the safest possible environment for cheer and dance athletes to train and compete. We are a nonprofit corporation established in Tennessee and are governed by Bylaws, officers, a Board of Directors, and 15 standing committees. The day-to-day operation of the USASF is handled by full-time, part-time, and volunteer staff.

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