Cheerleading Rules and Procedures

The Thurston County Youth Football League (T.C.Y.F.L.) has adopted several rules supported by the Cheerleading branch of the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) Spirit Rules, American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Advisors, (AACCA) and American Youth Cheer (AYC) non-competition guidelines. The T.C.Y.F.L. reserves the right to alter and change any cheerleading rules within the guidelines of the Sadler Insurance Policies and the needs of the T.C.Y.F.L. These rules apply to any and all T.C.Y.F.L. Activities/Events/Games/Practices throughout the T.C.Y.F.L. Season.

General Cheer Safety Rules/Guidelines

  1. All teams must be supervised during all T.C.Y.F.L. functions by a T.C.Y.F.L. certified and qualified director/coach who holds a diploma/GED and is 18 years of age or older. All T.C.Y.F.L. Cheer Staff must wear their badges at all T.C.Y.F.L. activities, events, practices and games. The Franchise Cheer Coach and Head Cheer Coaches, of any squad, must be 21 years of age. All Assistant Cheer Coaches, of any squad, must be a minimum of 18 years of age and must have graduated from high school or hold a GED certificate.  Coach Trainees or junior coaches must be a minimum of 16 years of age and may only carry out the instructions of the Head or Assistant coaches. All cheer franchises may be allowed to have a “Coach in Training” (CITs) or Student Demonstrator (SD) program that consists of 13-15 year olds who must be attending high school and may only carry out the instructions of the Head/Assistant Coach.  All Cheer Coaches and Cheer Staff must follow the guidelines set forth by the Franchise Cheer Coach.
  2. Coaches must require proficiency before skill progression. Coaches must consider the individual, group, and team skill levels when performing either on the sideline or in a routine performance. An attendance log and skills progression chart/recording shall be recorded at each practice. *Per NFHS Spirit Rules and Sadler Insurance Company, only League Cheer Coaches who are 21 years of age and older may instruct/supervise/teach stunts during any and all T.C.Y.F.L. functions.
  3. Apparel must cover the midriff when the participant is standing at attention. Safety pins may not be used on uniforms as they present a safety hazard. Apparel and accessories must be appropriate for the activity involved to minimize the risk for the participants. This can include tops, shorts, leggings, socks, bows, ect.
  4. Athletic shoes must be worn while participating in any T.C.Y.F.L. cheer activity.  T.C.Y.F.L. cheer activities include practices, games, special events, and competitions.  No dance shoes/boots, and/or gymnastics slippers (or similar) allowed. Shoes must have a solid sole. If you can roll it up and put it in your pocket, it’s illegal.
  5. A participant should not be chewing gum or have candy/food in their mouths while performing during any T.C.Y.F.L. activity/event/practice/game.
  6. Jewelry of any kind including but not limited to ear, nose, tongue, belly button and facial rings, transparent plastic jewelry, anklets, bracelets, necklaces, ropes, hair elastics on wrists and pins on uniforms are prohibited.  Jewelry must be removed and may not be band-aid/taped over. Exception to this rule is rhinestones that are adhered to a uniform.  Rhinestones are illegal when adhered to the skin. Religious medals cannot be attached to a chain; it must be taped and worn underneath the uniform. A medical alert medal must be taped and may be visible.
  7. Acrylic or natural nails must be kept short, near the ends of the fingers, to minimize risks to the participants. Nail polish, at the discretion of the Franchise Cheer Coach, may be worn during T.C.Y.F.L. cheer activities except competitions.  Nail polish is prohibited during competitions.   
  8. Hair must be worn back and off the neck/shoulders during any T.C.Y.F.L. cheer activity/event/game/practice. Hair must be secured away from the face and not interfere with the cheerleader’s ability to stunt safely or obstruct vision. Make sure any hair devices/accessories are secure. Please be careful when picking out hair accessories since long streamers can violate safety issues while stunting. Bobby pins and hair pins are strongly discouraged however gymnastic type clips are recommended by the AYC.
  9. Any height increasing apparatus/person used to propel a competitor is prohibited.
  10. Flags, banners, signs, poms, and megaphones are the only props allowed. Hiding or hidden type props are prohibited as well as items that may damage the performance surface. The use of lighted signs with bulbs and batteries are prohibited. Use of poms and/or props is prohibited during tumbling, stunt/pyramid load-ins, stunt/pyramid dismounts, and during stunt transitions. The top person may obtain and use poms or props when secure in a stunt or pyramid. When discarding poms/props (signs, ect) that are made of solid material or have sharp edges/corners, team members must gently hand off or place the props so that they are under control (e.g. throwing a hard sign across the mat from a stunt would be illegal). The placement of props or poms should be a safe distance away from skills being performed to eliminate any safety hazards. Any uniform piece purposefully removed from the body and used for visual effect is prohibited.
  11. Casts/Braces/Glasses/Medical Equipment:
    Casts: Participants may participate in limited capacity while wearing supports, braces, soft casts, ect, as long as such items have not been altered from the manufacturer’s original design. If altered, padding should be provided with closed-cell, slow-recovery foam padding no less than one-half inch thick if the participant is partner stunts, pyramids or dismounts.  Casts that are hard and unyielding or have rough edges must be appropriately covered with a padded material. Plaster casts and walking boots are not permitted for partner stunts, pyramids and dismounts. Jumping with a cast is permitted with the exception of the cast being on a foot or leg.
    Braces: Hard braces with metal hinges are prohibited. Braces may be made of fabric with covered hinges. Any covering may not restrict movement of hinges
    Velcro: All Velcro closures must be completely covered with either medical/athletic tape or a neoprene or similar sleeve.

    Glasses: Glasses may be worn, but must be secure. If they fall off, they must be quickly retrieved, a sport strap for all participants wearing eyeglasses is highly recommended.
    Medical Equipment: Any participant requiring a medical device shall be allowed to participate as long as a medical documentation is available. The extent of the participation (ex stunting etc. should consider the safety of all participants involved)
  12. Required spotters for all levels must be your own team’s members. Coaches are allowed to be back up spotters on the sidelines but not in competition. All participants assigned as spotters in a stunt group must remain in the ready position during the entire stunt. Ready position means eyes are focused on the top person at all time. All participants assigned as bases are required to keep eyes on their top person. A glance when transitioning and pyramid building is allowed but the remainder of the time, bases need to be focused on their stunt group and not looking around.
  13. Drops including but not limited to knee, seat, thigh, front, back, and split drops from a jump, stunt, or inverted position are prohibited unless the majority of the weight is first borne on the hands/feet, which breaks the impact of the drop.
  14. All loose glitter in hair, on hair accessories, on signs or on the body, excluding glitter/shimmer eye shadow, is prohibited. The only exceptions are laminated signs where glitter is sealed inside and hair pieces with attached glitter strands from manufacturer.   
  15. A participant in full head and/or body costume must not spot/stunt/tumble except for a forward roll or cartwheel. This rule also applies to participants wearing hooded sweatshirts, any type of warm-ups and any form of gloves/mittens that aren’t legal stunting gloves. Long socks may not be worn by a top person when in any type of stunt.
  16. When the area where the cheer squad is participating whether it is an activity/event/game/practice is considered damp and/or wet, either from rain or other unknown influence(s), then stunting will be prohibited until the area is deemed dry and safe for stunting. All Cheer Coaches should take caution in deciding if the wet area is safe for jumping.
  17. Any participant who exhibits signs, symptoms or behavior consistent with a concussion (such as loss of consciousness, headache, dizziness, confusion, or balance problems) shall be immediately removed from the activity/practice/event/game and shall not return to play until cleared by an appropriate health-care professional.
  18. A participant who is bleeding, has an open wound, has any amount of blood on his/her uniform, or has blood on his/her person, shall be directed to leave the activity until the bleeding has stopped, the wound is covered, the uniform and/or body is appropriately cleaned, and/or uniform is changed before returning to participation.


General Tumbling

A.  All tumbling must originate from and land on the performing surface.  A tumbler may, without hip-over-head rotation, rebound from his/her feet into a stunt transition.  Rebounding to a prone position in a stunt is allowed.

B.  Tumbling over, under, or through a stunt, individual, or prop, is prohibited.

C.  Tumbling while holding or in contact with any prop is prohibited.

D.  Spotted, assisted, or connected tumbling is prohibited. (Example: Double cartwheels and chorus line flips are illegal.) 

E.  All dive rolls are illegal. 


A.        With the exception of block cartwheels and round-offs, skills must involve constant physical contact with the performing surface.  Therefore, all skills with hand support performed from a standing position are allowed.  Standing series of these skills are also allowed.  With the exception of front and back handsprings, one hand must remain in contact with the floor during skill execution.    

B.        Forward and backward rolls, front and back walkovers, handstands, cartwheels, and round offs are allowed.

C.        Front and back handsprings are allowed but both hands must remain in contact with the floor when executing these moves.

D.        Flips, tucks, aerials, and dive rolls are, without exception, strictly prohibited.   


A.        No extension stunts allowed for ages 7 to 11. A stunt may not be held at or pass through an extension position for these age groups.

           1) Exception for age 11 extension stunting. If the coach of that squad has a current
               WIAA Stunt Certification and has previous cheer coaching experience that can
               be verified, age 11 will be able to participate in extension elevators    

               and liberties as long as there are 4 bases involved in the stunt. Coaches must                 
               supply this information to the V.P. of Cheerleading prior to allowing this age to
               participate in the advanced stunting.  

B.        During a transitional stunt, if the weight of the top person does not remain within the vertical axis of the stunt, three stationary catchers are required. Physical contact must be maintained with the original base(s).

C.        No stunt, pyramid, or individual may move over or under another stunt, pyramid or individual (e.g. shoulder sits walking under prep).

D.        Single based split catches are prohibited.

E.        Single leg stunts are allowed at shoulder (prep) level for ages 7-11 with 4 bases.
****Chairs are allowed with a base and a spotter in the front and/or back of the stunt.
****Ages 12 and 13 are allowed extended single leg stunts Liberties with 4 bases. Refer
        to 11-year-old rule above for 11-year olds to do extended Liberties.
**** Bow and Arrows, Heel Stretches, Scales, and Scorpions are not allowed stunts at the recreation level for the T.C.Y.F.L.

F.        Transitional stunts may not involve changing bases.  All bases need to remain in contact with the stunt.

G.       Twisting during the load-in is limited to one full twist by the top person only.  The base cannot turn during the load-in.

H.        With the exception of one base making a ¼ turn to get under the stunt, base(s) cannot turn while top person is in upward or downward motion.
I.         Free flipping, assisted flipping mounts, or transitional stunts are prohibited.

J.         A spotter is required with stunts in which the supporting arm(s) of the base(s) is fully extended above the head.

K.        Split stunts are allowed back into the T.C.Y.F.L. as of 2013 season. The T.C.Y.F.L. will only allow the top person to be loaded in by the bases or the top person may jump while assisted into position. This stunt, in the T.C.Y.F.L., requires 3 bases, a top person and a back spotter. ***Extended split stunts are not allowed for 7-8 year old cheerleaders.

L.        Swing up stunts are prohibited.  


A.      Cradles from single based stunts at prep level must have two spotters with at least one hand/arm supporting the head and shoulder area through the cradle.

B.        Cradles from multi-based stunts at prep level or above must have two catchers and a separate spotter positioned at the head and shoulder area through the cradle.

C.        Dismounts to the performing surface from stunts and pyramids must be assisted by an original base.

D.        Free flipping and assisted flipping dismounts are prohibited.

E.        Tension drops and tension rolls, of any kind, are prohibited.

F.        Only straight pop downs and basic straight cradles are allowed.

G.        1/4 turns are prohibited.

H.        Cradles from extended stunts are prohibited.

Release Moves

A.        Any release moves not permitted in “Stunts” and “Dismounts” are prohibited.

B.        Release moves may not land in a prone position.


A.        Inversions are prohibited.


A.        Pyramids must follow "Stunts" and "Dismounts" rules and are allowed up to 2 high, a base (1) and a top person (2)

B.        Top persons in two leg extended stunts must be braced by at least two top persons at prep level with hand/arm connection. The connection must be made at or below prep level.

C.        One leg stunts at prep level must be braced by at least two top persons at prep level or lower with hand/arm connection only. The connection must be made prior to executing single leg stunt & must be made at or below prep level.

D.        Hanging pyramids and collapsible pyramids are prohibited.  Single leg extended stunts are permitted as long as the flyer is braced on both sides.


A.        Any/all tosses are prohibited.

B.        Helicopter tosses are prohibited.


The board has the option to alter the Supplemental Rules, but all teams or coaches impacted by the changes need to be notified in advance of said changes.

       SR-1: Persons are eligible to play in the T.C.Y.F.L. if they are 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 years old on July 31st of the current year. 

ART: 1-1:  6 year old cheerleaders must have approval from the team's franchise cheer coach. It is recommended cheerleaders turn 7 by October of the current season.

SR-2: Each cheerleader must participate in 12 or more practices before performing at a game. All participants who attend the required number of practices can participate at the game each week.

SR-3: Practices may start no earlier than Aug. 1st, and no stunt sessions may occur before three non-stunt sessions have occurred. A minimum of two practices, and a maximum of three, shall be conducted each week during the entire season. Each practice shall be no more than two hours duration. No T.C.Y.F.L. practice should occur prior to 5pm per League rules. Coaches may opt to conduct two practice weeks consisting of four practices of no more than two hours duration each, in the two weeks prior to the league competition. During the week of the Jamboree, three practices consisting of no more than two hours may be conducted in addition to the Jamboree.

ART 3-1:  Prior to August practices of the current year, participation in parades and/or community days is allowed with the restriction that the team is limited to walking and promoting the T.C.Y.F.L. as a franchise to support their community.  All other types of participation, prior to August practices of the current year, are prohibited.

ART 3-2:  Prior to participating in parades and/or community days, the T.C.Y.F.L. V.P. of Cheerleading and Secretary must be informed of the cheer squad’s participation. 

ART 3-3:  Per the T.C.Y.F.L. Board of Directors, cheer squads at the end of a season may all get together and participate in the local, community, holiday parade.

       SR-4: Cheerleaders are not subject to any weight requirements.

SR-5: Due to insurance concerns, there shall be no non-participants or agents of the league (coaches, chain gang, and referees) within the inside and outside edge of the running track surrounding the playing field. Per League rules non-participants are not allowed within the 30 yard field marks when the cheer squads are present. When playing on fields with grandstands, all non-participants must remain in the grandstands/bleachers.

SR-6: One cheer coach is required for the first 20 cheerleaders on a squad.  An additional coach is required for each additional 10 cheerleaders.

SR-7: All franchises will have a designated Franchise Cheer Coach. The Franchise Cheer Coach will have a designated, separate Cheer Coordinator. The Franchise Cheer Coach is responsible for the actions and coaching of the Cheer Staff. All persons involved with the Cheer Staff are required to be certified by the T.C.Y.F.L.  The Franchise Cheer Coach will report all inappropriate actions and issues to the Franchise Head Coach.

SR-8: The Franchise Cheer Coach will limit the cost of the required uniforms to the parent(s)/guardian(s) of participants to $275.00 per calendar season. The Franchise Cheer Coach is responsible for the Franchise uniform design and/or what is required for the Franchise uniform.

SR-9: Any T.C.Y.F.L. Cheer Squad/Coach choosing not to participate at the end-of-season T.C.Y.F.L. Competition must submit to the T.C.Y.F.L. V.P. of Cheer, in writing, the reason(s) for non-participation.  The submission must include signatures from the participant(s), parent(s)/guardian(s), the Franchise Cheer Coach and the Franchise Head Coach.

SR-10: Sideline cheers will alternate between the cheer squads with each squad remaining respectfully silent while the other squad is performing.  A friendly reminder is in order if a squad does not begin a cheer within three minutes of the completion of the other squad’s last cheer. If a team scores a touchdown then simple cheer is allowed at same time the other squad is cheering.

 ART 10-1:  Cheerleaders may continuously cheer, without worry about overlapping other cheer teams, during the T.C.Y.F.L. Jamboree and other, designated, special T.C.Y.F.L. events.

SR-11: As a show of sportsmanship after a game, both cheer squads will line up and cheer off both football teams.  If a cheer squad for the following game is prepared to take the field at the end of a game, that squad is welcome to help cheer off the football teams as well.

SR-12: No cheer squad will take the field before the current game is finished unless invited on the sidelines by another squad to help cheer on the game.


T.C.Y.F.L. coaches are responsible for the actions of their teams while in uniform, both on and off the field, while engaged in T.C.Y.F.L. activities.  Any report of misconduct of the players/cheerleaders that is not considered in the best interest of the T.C.Y.F.L. is to be forwarded in writing to the T.C.Y.F.L. Board of Directors. The Board of directors will give the matter immediate attention to resolve the matter. A decision will be made within one week of the incident, and the offending players/cheerleaders will be advised of the decision and consequences.


SRE-1: The ejection of a player/cheerleader from a ball game will result in the following: Any player/cheerleader ejected by a referee from a regular season game will be ineligible to play in the team’s next league game. The ejected player will remain on the bench throughout the penalty game. Coaches shall make this rule clear to all player/cheerleaders prior to the start of the season.

SRE-2: The ejection of a coach from a ball game will fall under the leagues three-strike policy.


  1. It is the policy of T.C.Y.F.L. to encourage safe participation and to avoid injuries and accidents.
  2. Team Cheer Coaches will have a first aid kit and basic knowledge of first aid.
  3. Coaches or their designated assistants may treat any minor injury which requires a bandage and/or ice pack. Any injury requiring additional attention or treatment shall be referred to medical professionals through 911.
  4. The first aid kit will contain disposable rubber gloves for reviewing of open wounds.
  5. If a player/cheerleader sustains an injury that stops the game or if a player/cheerleader requests help, the coach will render aid to the player/cheerleader. The coach will determine the nature and severity of the injury. If the player/cheerleader has a minor laceration or abrasion and simple bandaging can control the bleeding, the coach can treat the injury or ask the parent for assistance. If a player/cheerleader receives a minor strain or sprain and the injury can be treated with ice, the coach will call for assistance from the parent/guardian. It is not the responsibility of the coach to treat the severe bleeding, possible bone fracture, dislocations. In these cases, 911 shall be called for emergency medical assistance.
  6. All incident/accident reports shall be reported to the T.C.Y.F.L. V.P. of Cheerleading within 48 hours of the incident/accident.
  7. Any participant requiring treatment from a medical professional must have a medical release before the participant may be allowed to practice. A copy must be sent to the current T.C.Y.F.L. V.P. of Cheerleading.

SIGN-UP POLICY   T.C.Y.F.L. Franchises by School District


NT Rams      Pleasant Glade, Mountain View, Lacey, Olympic View, and Chinook MS

Blazers         Chambers Prairie, Horizon, Lydia Hawk, Lakes, Woodland Hawks  
                     Komanchin MS                     

Hawks          Lydia Hawk, Meadows, Seven Oakes, Olympic View, Evergreen Forest
                     Nisqually MS


Bears           Lincoln, Centennial, Madison, McKenney, Pioneer, Roosevelt, Boston  
                    Harbor, Washington MS, Reeves MS,

Cougars      Garfield, Jefferson, LP Brown, Hansen, McLane, Griffin,   Marshall MS


T-Birds        East Olympia, Littlerock, Peter G. Schmidt, Bush MS

Wolves        Black Lake, Tumwater Hill, Michael T. Simmons, Tumwater MS


Tornados     Prairie, McKenna, Mill Pond, Southworth, Ft.Stevens, Lackamas


Sentinels     Cheerydale Primary, Harriet Taylor, Anderson Island, Chloe Clark,
                   Saltar's Point, Pioneer Middle School


Mountaineers          Rainier Schools


Beavers                   Tenino Schools


Climbers                  Shelton Schools


Jr. Cats                    Chehalis Schools


Division of cheerleaders for sideline participation will be decided by Franchise Head Cheer Coach, but per competition guidelines, teams will be divided by age as shown below:

  1. Minors (7 and 8 year olds)
  2. Major J.V. (9 and 10 year olds)
  3. Major Varsity (11 year olds)
  4. Senior J.V. (12 year olds)
  5. Senior Varsity (13 year olds)

Teams for competition must be made up of a minimum of 5 girls. Age levels may combine to compete at the division of the oldest participant.


1.  Cheerleaders are assigned to the same franchise from the previous year unless released by the Franchise Head Coach after consulting with the Franchise Head Cheer Coach or by a participant’s own request and such request is approved by the board.

2a. This is a “grandfathered” rule that only applies to participants in the T.C.Y.F.L. 2005 season that participated as an out of district participant.  No team shall consist of more than three participants on each team from out of district and those participants must be the children of a certified coach or certified team coordinator.  If not, the participant will return to his or her district franchise.

2b. There will be no out of district participants allowed in the T.C.Y.F.L. with the exception of the participants that were released under rule #1 or meet the “grandfathered” rule requirements in rule #2a.

3.  A cheer coach is defined as a person who has completed the cheer coach certification class and attends a minimum of 2 full practices per week.

4.  Any player/cheerleader attending private school or being home schooled shall play for their local public school district based on physical address.

5.  Player/cheerleader candidates are required to sign up on the registration form provided by the T.C.Y.F.L. by the registration cut-off date.

6.  Each Franchise Head Coach will supply a list of out of district players and their out of district coaches to the League Vice President of Rules and Oversight one week prior to the Jamboree.

7.  Participants must not be delinquent with league registration fees, team uniform payments, or any other monies owed to the league, franchise or their officers in order to be allowed to participate. Per League Registration Guidelines, delinquency restrictions shall apply to all siblings and parents involved.

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