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Is Training in a Mask Safe? A Cheer-Specific Study

Updated: Nov 12, 2020

The question we have all been asking ourselves as we navigate through this pandemic; is training in a mask.. Safe?

Before we dive into the details, please note; this study, with official analysis and conclusions will be submitted for publishing to a scientific journal by Dr. Scott Christie. However, we know how important it is for you to have reliable resources, and keep your athletes safe, so here are the details of our findings.

In order to test to see if it was safe to wear a mask while cheerleading, we ran a series of tests with 11 athletes, measuring their PulsOx (Pulse Oximetry - a term you might know a little more about if you watched the most recent Apple event).

*Cheer District obtained written permission to conduct this study from each athlete.

We completed two identical testing sessions, one with masks, one without. For the first testing session, athletes were masked the entire time, we put them through a series of tests to fatigue the athlete to determine how their PulseOx levels would change from before the activity, to after. We replicated the study in the second session with the same athletes, with no mask (socially distanced of course). As you can imagine, their pulse changed drastically, but did their blood oxygen levels? See for yourself below.

NOTE: Blood Oxygen levels below 88 are cause for concern, anything above that, is normal.

We can see for every single athlete, their Oxygen levels stayed at a very healthy level, despite the mask, and were comparable to the second session oxygen levels when they were not wearing a mask.

Knowing the feedback from athletes training in masks has been that it is “harder”, we decided to include the 'Scale of Measuring Subjective Perceptions Questionnaire' to better understand the psychological effects of wearing a mask, in comparison to the PulseOx readings.

See results of the questionnaire below.

*all questions were based on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the best/easiest 10 being the worst/hardest.

Although official conclusions will be drawn once the appropriate statical analysis has been completed for the *official* scientific journal article submission (should I say official again?), it can be assumed the psychological side of wearing a mask is likely more of a roadblock for athletes, than the mask itself causing harm or putting athletes at risk.

Mask or not, it is important to understand your athletes fitness levels, mitigate large amounts of fatigue, and give athletes sufficient rests and water breaks.

*please note, the results of this test may vary based on specific health conditions of the athletes, or with the type of mask being worn.

Special thank you to Cj Pugh Owner of PCT Cheer & Tumble and his athletes for their contributions and participation in this study.


Exercise with and without a mask was completed following all the regulations as laid out by the Ontario Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization, Cheer Canada, and the Ontario Cheerleading Federation as it pertains to the transmission of infectious disease in a sporting environment.  The intent of this study was to determine how to  keep the athletes as safe as possible by allowing for further safety measures to be implemented should national and provincial organizations be allowed to continue to cheerlead across the world.  Currently, indoor exercise in small group settings is allowed without a mask.  We were advocating that masks could and should be worn safely in a cheerleading setting to help mitigate the transmission of the disease.  The safety of the athlete's, their community and their families health was our paramount priority during this assessment.



*All athletes wore a standard medical mask



Standing Tumbling:

  • Spring

  • Spring x2

  • Spring Tuck

  • Spring x2 Tuck

  • Spring x2 (Elite)

  • Standing Tuck

Running Tumbling:

  • Bare minimum RO BHS T x3




Single Jumps

  • Hurdler L and R x2

  • Toe Touche x5

Double Jumps

  • Hurdler, Toe x2

  • Toe, Toe x2

  • Toe, Hurdler x2

Tumbling Jumps

  • Toe Spring or Toe Tuck x2


Simulation Run

15 Second Blocks at maximum effort

0:00 - 0:15: Back Handspring x3

0:15 - 0:30: Squats Jumps

0:30 - 0:45: Pike Pushup

0:45 - 1:00: Back Handspring x3

1:00 - 1:15: Pogo Jumps (Rebounds)

1:15 - 1:30: Burpees (without push up)

1:30 - 1:45: Toe Touch x3

1:45 - 2:00: Squat Hold

2:00 - 2:15: Pike Pushups

2:15 - 2:30: Jogging on the spot

Got questions? Ask away!! We are here to help and support you!

Don't forget to share with your friends!! Let's keep each other safe!

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