Frequently Asked Questions

What is a bona-fide cheerleader?

A bona-fide cheerleader is a cheerleader who is an active member of a school’s cheer squad. They cheer at all scheduled games, participate in cheer activities such as pep rallies, sign and poster making, and other activities of the cheerleaders in your school.

Bona fide cheerleaders cheer at scheduled games for an entire season, and participate in ALL cheer activities as team members. They cannot be cheerleaders who cheer now and then, step in to stunt, or only cheer on a competition squad. The cheerleader cannot be a college cheerleader or only cheer for a non-school all-star squad. 

The ICCA expects all cheerleaders participating in ICCA Events to be bona-fide members of their school’s cheer squad. It is up to the athletic director/administrator to make sure the enrolled cheerleaders for ICCA events, including the State Championships, are cheerleaders who are actually chosen as cheerleaders for a season, and are actually cheering at games during their chosen season.

To place someone other than a bona fide cheerleader on a squad will open the school to possible disqualification, probation from ICCA Events, and the rescinding of trophies and medals won by the school at the Championships.

Are athletic physicals required of cheerleaders?

While this is a local issue, the ICCA and the IHSAA highly recommend that all cheerleaders be required to have a yearly athletic physical, just as other athletes are required to have physicals for participation.

Who determines the eligibility of cheerleaders?

This is a local issue, but the ICCA and the IHSAA recommends that the school treats the cheerleader as they would any athlete in regards to academic eligibility or the school’s Code of Conduct. Each one of the National Federation, IHSAA and ICCA Strengthened Rules must be followed at practices, games, pep rallies and performances.

Can cheerleaders wear nail polish when cheering?

Yes! There are no rules regarding nail polish or the color. A coach has the right to impose a rule on his/her squad, but that rule CANNOT be forced on to other squads, even when they cheer at your school. The only “nail rule” is regarding the length of the nail (it should not be seen over the top of any finger when looking at the palm of the hand). There are no ICCA or National Federation rules regarding nail polish.

Do the cheerleaders really need to follow the rules regarding hair, jewelry, and nails?

To lower the liability of the school, and keep cheerleaders safe, YES! Each one of these rules, plus all other rules, must be followed at practices, games, pep rallies, and performances. An athletic director/administrator can have a tremendous influence in seeing that these rules are enforced for both home and visiting cheerleaders at athletic games/matches/events. Each one of the National Federation, IHSAA and ICCA Strengthened Rules must be followed at practices, games, pep rallies and performances.

Can little cheerleaders cheer at games/meets?

No, NFHS Rule 2-1-2 states that only bona-fide students of the school who are designated as members of the school’s spirit team(s) may participate. Cheer clinic cheerleaders may perform either before a game/meet or during half time, but may not cheer during a game/meet.

Does a cheer coach have to have a “coaching authorization” or “coaching license” to coach cheer?

The answer is no. Cheer coaches are not required to have a coaching endorsement or coaching authorization. However, the ICCA highly recommends that athletic directors/administrators help the cheer coach get all the cheer coaching education possible. This would include joining the ICCA so the cheer coach can receive the ICCA Newsletter, taking classes such as USA Cheer Safety & Risk Management, and attending the ICCA Spring Conference where many classes are held regarding coaching cheerleading.

Is it necessary that cheerleaders practice with mats?

To lower the liability of the school, the cheerleaders should have mats when practicing stunting. Many schools used flexible, carpet-topped mats made for cheerleading (6’ x 42’ x 1 ⅜”).  Schools may use four by eight foot mats that fold up for easy storage if necessary.  Every squad will need multiple strips of matting to keep stunting teams safe in all situations, including if the stunt would move.  Mats should have a thickness of 1 ⅜ inches to lower the liability of the school and coach, as well as for the safety of the participants.  Safety and progressions are keys to a squad’s success and safety.  Ask your cheer coach to follow the stunting progressions while the school provides the mats for safety and to lower liability. 

How do cheer coaches record stunt progressions and tumbling progressions?

Coaches should follow stunt and tumbling progressions for the safety of the participants and to lower the liability of the coach and school. There are many ways to do this and coaches can develop their own system. Four items are key: recording the cheerleader’s name, the position they have mastered in the stunt (top person, spotter, base), the progression (stunt name) they have mastered, and the date of mastery. Each progression should be consistently performed ten times perfectly before a cheerleader is allowed to move to the next progression. The ICCA recommends these records are kept for a seven year period before discarding. Cheerleaders should start over with the stunt progressions and tumbling progressions each year. If the coach does not feel the stunt was performed safely, it should not be counted toward the mastery level.