Using the National Federation Spirit Rules Book

Below are some helpful hints for using the National Federation Spirit Rules Book to find information more easily. ALL specifics in each rule and/or exception must be followed in order to be legal. Refer to the Index in the back of the book to find the exact rule references.

Rule 1 – Definitions for both cheer and dance/drill/pom

This rule has definitions for various terms used in the rules book. It’s a good place to look for descriptions of various skills, dismounts, inversions, and other positions. For example, if a rule says that the top person can’t be inverted, the definition for an inverted position is “shoulders are below the waist.”

Rule 2 – General Risk Management for both cheer and dance/drill/pom

Section 1 – General

This section deals with general rule information such as coach’s responsibility if a team member is not following the NFHS rules, spirit team participation, performance surfaces, discarding props, gum and candy, stunting/tumbling during games, artificial noisemakers, blood situations, concussions, and reasonable accommodations.

Section 2 – Sportsmanship

This section lists unsporting acts and the use of substances while representing the school.

Rule 3 – Cheer Risk Management

Section 1 – Cheerleader Apparel/Accessories

This section addresses the rules for jewelry, fingernails, hair, appropriate apparel and accessories including shoes, mascots, glitter, supports/braces, and logos/trademarks/American flags on uniforms.

Section 2 – Stunting Personnel

This section deals with the rules specific to bases, spotters, bracers, and top persons, including required spotters for stunts.

Section 3 – Inversions

This rule section covers the rules for situations when a top person is inverted, such as braced inversions in a pyramids that do not flip or roll; braced rolls in pyramids, braced flips in pyramids, foldovers, suspended rolls, all other types of inversions including dismounts from inverted stunts, and inverted top persons holding objects in hands.

Section 4 – Non-Release Stunts

This section addresses all non-release stunts where the top person is not released – height limitations, moving over or under stunts/pyramids, braced stunts in a pyramid, moving from vertical to horizontal positions, hanging pyramids, single-base stunts, non-release transitions, flips into stunts/cradles (illegal), jumps onto backs of bases who are in horizontal positions (illegal).

Section 5 – Release Stunts/Tosses

This section deals with all stunts and tosses where the top person is released – release stunts and tosses, switch liberties, release transitions, helicopters, log rolls, toe/leg pitches (illegal), and quick tosses.

Section 6 – Suspended Stunts

This section covers non-braced and braced suspended splits and swinging stunts.

Section 7 – Dismounts

This section addresses dismounts from stunts, such as dismounts to the performing surface, cradle dismounts from single and multi-base stunts, twists to cradles or the performing surface, dismounts to catchers who are not the original bases, bracer-assisted cradle dismounts, and tension drops (illegal).

Section 8 – Tumbling

This section deals with tumbling skills, such as tumbling or rebounding over/under a stunt/person/prop, holding props, dive roll (illegal), flips into stunts/cradles (illegal), flips on the performing surface, surface restrictions, and entrance to kip-up skills.

Section 9 – Drops

This section addresses drops, such as thighs/splits/knees/seat drops, airborne drops to push-up positions (illegal), falling directly to stomachs or backs, and drops to performing surface from handsprings/flips (illegal).

Section 10 – Props As Bases

This section covers rules for cheerleaders standing on boxes/props when cheering.

Rule 4 – Dance Risk Management

This section covers rules specific to dance/drill/pom.


The photographs of stunts show both legal and illegal stunts, which can be beneficial in helping coaches better understand the rules.

General Coaching Principles

This section contains general coaching responsibilities which coaches should know and follow.

Points of Emphasis

The Points of Emphasis are very important for the coaches to read and understand. These points emphasize areas of concern not only for the safety of cheerleaders, but also for the liability protection of coaches and schools.

Comments on the Rules Changes

Comments on the Rules Changes explains the reasons for new rules and/or rule changes.

Coaches Code of Ethics

Coaches Code of Ethics are coaching guidelines established by the National Federation Board Of Directors.


The index can be useful for directing coaches to the correct rule, section, and article. If a coach is looking for rules concerning helicopters, the coach would first look for release stunts since the top person in a helicopter is released. Under Release Stunts, the helicopter rule(s), section(s), and article(s) is indicated so the coach can easily turn to that specific rule.