Cheerleading Rules and Procedures

Thurston County Youth Football League

T.C.Y.F.L. Sideline Cheerleading Rule 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 ESP Insurance Brokerage Company’s non-competition guidelines. The T.C.Y.F.L. reserves the right to alter and change any cheerleading rules within the guidelines of the contracted insurance policies and the needs of the T.C.Y.F.L. These rules apply to all T.C.Y.F.L. Sideline Cheer and Flag Cheer Activities/Events/Games/Practices throughout the current T.C.Y.F.L. Season.


General Cheer Safety Rules/Guidelines

1.         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.  All cheer franchises may be allowed to have a “Coach in Training” (CITs) or Student Demonstrator (SD) program that consists of 13–18-year-olds who and may only carry out the instructions of the Head/Assistant Coach. All T.C.Y.F.L. Cheer Staff must wear their badges at all T.C.Y.F.L. activities, events, practices, and games.

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 ESP Brokerage 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 should have no accessories or adornments. Shoes must have a solid sole. If you can roll it up and put it in your pocket, it’s illegal.

5.        A participant must 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. Medical alert bracelets and anklets need to be covered with a neoprene sleeve or thick covering. Medical alert shoe tags need to be covered with a clear tap or material that covers the entire tag and corners. A medical alert medal must be off the chain and taped and it may be visible.

7.         Artificial or natural fingernails must be kept short, near the ends of the fingers, to minimize risks to the participants. Acrylic nails are strongly discouraged in the T.C.Y.F.L. Nail polish and/or color is at the discretion of the Franchise Cheer Coach.   

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. Hair control devices, accessories and other adornments in the hair that are securely fastened, appropriate to the activity and do not present an increased risk to any of the participants are allowed. Head coverings worn for religious reasons so as not to expose one's uncovered head may be worn and must be attached in such a way that it is unlikely to come off during performance. It must be made of non-abrasive, soft materials; must fit securely and not pose a danger to any other participant. Please be careful when picking out hair accessories since long streamers can violate safety issues while stunting. Bobby pins are strongly discouraged however gymnastic type clips are recommended by NFHS.

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. The top person

may obtain and use poms or props when secure in a stunt or pyramid.


Use of poms and/or props is prohibited during tumbling, stunt/pyramid load-ins,

stunt/pyramid dismounts, and during stunt transitions.

         *EXCEPTION: A base and top person may share a pom during a dismount

          from a thigh stand, shoulder sit/straddle, shoulder stand, or prep.

When using props that are made of hard materials or have sharp corners or edges:


1.     A top person may not release the props to the ground; and


2. A person on the ground must gently toss or place the prop.


Squad 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, etc., if such items have not been altered from the manufacturer’s original design. Soft, non-abrasive and/or non-hardening supports, braces, soft casts, etc., that are unaltered from the manufacturer’s original design/production do not require any additional padding. Hard and unyielding items (guards, casts, braces, etc.,) on the hand, wrist forearm, elbow or upper arm must be padded with a closed cell, slow recovery foam padding no less than one-half-inch thick if the participant is involved in partner stunts, pyramids, or tosses. A participant wearing a lower body plaster cast or a walking boot must not be involved in partner stunts, pyramids, tosses, jumps or tumbling.

·       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 if 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 always focused on the top person at all times. 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 much 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.

19. All T.C.Y.F.L. Cheerleading Staff will adhere to all safety and public health guidelines created by the T.C.Y.F.L. Board of Directors to include but not limited to air quality, disease/virus, facility/field situations and personal/participant injuries.


            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. 

             Standing/Running Tumbling

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 cheer 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 if there are 4 bases involved in the stunt. Coaches must upload their
               current season WIAA Stunt Certificate to their T.C.Y.F.L. account plus notify
               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 for single-base prep-level stunts in which the foot/feet of the top person is in the hands of the base.

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

L.        Split stunts performed in 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.

M.       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 participate in the T.C.Y.F.L. if they are 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 years old on July 31st of the current year.  

Flag Cheerleaders consist of ages 5 and 6 and cheer for the Flag Football Program.  ***Flag Cheerleaders are prohibited from participating in Sideline Cheer or at Tackle
      Football games.

Sideline Cheerleaders consist of ages 7-13 and cheer for the Tackle Football Program

      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 Sideline Cheerleader must participate in 12 or more practices before participating at their first game. Each Flag Cheerleader must participate in 5 or more practices before participating at their first game. Only participants who attend the minimum required number of squad practices can participate at the game each week.

SR-3: Sideline Cheer practices may start no earlier than Aug. 1st, and no stunt sessions may occur before three non-stunt sessions have occurred per sideline cheerleader. 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. 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 10 cheerleaders per individual squad.  Additional coaches/C.I.Ts are encouraged for each additional cheerleader over the original 10 cheerleaders.

SR-7: All franchises will have a designated Franchise Cheer Coach (FCC). 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 Sideline Cheer cost of the required uniforms to the parent(s)/guardian(s) of participants to $275.00 per calendar season. The Flag Cheer required uniform cost will be limited to $65 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: 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 a touchdown or simple cheer is allowed at same time the other squad is cheering.

       ART 9-1:  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-10: 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-11: 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 consisting of band aids and ice and basic knowledge of first aid. The FCC can request/require each cheerleader be responsible for their own first aid and personal medical supplies. Feminine hygiene products should be provided by the parent/guardian of each cheerleader. If there is an emergency/necessity, adult Cheer Staff may provide a sanitary napkin only if a participant is in need.

3. Coaches or their designated adult 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 the participants parents or 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. Director of 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.


The T.C.Y.F.L. decides franchise placement by the public school district the participant lives in or public school the participant will be attending in the Fall of the current season. Participants who attend alternative/private schools or are homeschooled, will be placed based on their current address.  

For a list of what public schools feed into which franchise, please visit, click on Tackle Football and look under Franchises.


Division of cheerleaders for Flag/Sideline squads and participation will be decided by the Franchise Cheer Coach in accordance with policy SR-1



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. 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.

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.

Thurston County Youth Football League Flag Cheer Rules

The T.C.Y.F.L. Flag Cheer program is designated to be an introduction to cheer program for 5 and 6-year-old participants.


T.C.Y.F.L. Flag Cheer is separate branch of cheerleading from the T.C.Y.F.L. Sideline Cheer Program which has its own set of rules. All guidelines and rules of the Sideline Cheer Program are in place for the Flag Cheer Program unless specified in the Flag Cheer Rules.


  • Must be 5 years old as of July 31st within the current season. Participants birth certificate must be uploaded into the system prior to July 31st.

  • Flag Cheer Registration fee is $10

  • Mandatory Flag Cheer uniform/accessory costs not to exceed $65 and is to be functional to the activity.

  • Head Flag Cheer Coach must be 21 and always be with the Flag Cheer Squad during all T.C.Y.F.L. practices and games.

  • Flag Cheer Coaches can utilize current year certified Coaches in Training/Junior Cheer Coaches as assistant coaches.

  • Flag Cheer will have a limit of 3 Cheer Coaches on the sidelines per game.

  • Practice starts August 15th of the current season.

  • Flag Cheer is allowed 1-2 practices per week, 75 to 90 minutes in duration for each practice.

  • Flag Cheerleaders must complete five cheer practices prior to cheering in first game.

  • Flag Cheerleaders must attend minimum weekly practices to cheer at Saturday games.

  • Flag Cheer Coaches are encouraged to have their Flag Cheerleaders form a tunnel for the Flag Players and their Football Coaches to run through.

  • Flag Cheer Coaches need to make sure their Flag Cheerleaders and themselves are standing in the correct space prior to the game starting.  The Flag Cheer Coaches need to make sure the area surrounding their cheerleaders is safe to participate in.

  • There should be no participants in the Flag Cheer area during any portion of the Flag Game they are cheering for.

  • Flag Cheerleader perform cheers and basic jumps on the sidelines.

  • Flag Cheerleaders do not execute stunts during any T.C.Y.F.L. activity, event, game, or practice.

  • Flag Cheerleaders may perform a routine – not to exceed one (1) minute – during Flag Football halftime. Flag Cheer Coaches need to be respectful of football halftime and not take excess time to get on and off field. Home Team Squad had right to perform at halftime but can defer to Visiting Squad if not performing at current Flag Game.

  • Flag Cheerleaders only cheer at designated Flag Football games.

  • Flag Cheerleaders are not allowed to cheer/perform on Cheer Sidelines during Tackle Football games. Flag Cheerleaders do not participate at Jamboree.

  • Flag Cheerleaders that are current 6 years old on July 31st deadline and are moved up to Sideline Cheer at any time after August and before the last game within the current season, must pay the additional registration fee before cheering their first game as a Sideline Cheerleader.

  • Flag Cheerleaders are invited to Cheer and/or do a routine at annual T.C.Y.F.L. Showcase that will not exceed 2 minutes.  

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