Cheerleading What Really Goes Into Those Perfect Routines

Youth pom poms

Cheerleading isn’t the fun, cutesy recreational activity people once thought it was. On a high school level, cheerleading can be a side activity for some girls. For many, however, cheerleading is about competition and exercise as much as it’s about supporting football and basketball teams. A lot goes into cheerleading — this could include countless hours of workouts and practice; thousands of dollars spent on youth pom poms, plastic megaphones, uniforms and much more; and even the occasional injury or too. Many universities now offer athletic scholarships for cheerleaders. Some college cheerleaders go on to become professional cheerleaders, a career that is both lucrative and highly competitive. No longer will cheerleaders put up with being dismissed as “cute girls” — especially not when many cheerleaders are male. Cheerleaders are campaigning for their sport to be recognized as both competitive and serious, with its own set of rewards and risks. If you think that cheerleading is all about shaking cheerleader pom poms and chanting cheers, think again. A lot goes into this sport — and it’s a sport that goes back further than you may think. Without further ado, let’s look into what cheerleading really means, and how it’s become the sport we know today.

A Quick History Of Cheerleading

Today, there are two main types of high school cheerleading: “sideline” cheer, which is the traditional style that involves cheering at sports games; and competitive cheer, which is more physically demanding, complicated, and involves competing on regional and national levels. Girls may be involved in one or both styles. Once, however, cheerleading was an all-male activity. Cheerleading began at schools like Princeton University, which named three male cheerleaders on October 26, 1897. Their job was to cheer home and guest football teams. Since then, cheerleading teams have become predominantly female, though male cheerleaders do still exist, and function largely as the physical strength of their teams. Despite the long history of cheerleading, All Star cheerleading teams only began in the 1980s.

How Appearance Factors Into Cheer

For all that cheerleading is a physically intimidating sport, there is a reason why appearance has become so important. Cheerleading requires fitness, especially at the competitive level. But it also requires uniformity. Cheerleaders represent their school’s “brand”. If they don’t have a uniform, coiffed appearance this throws off that brand. And yes, youth pom poms are important to that brand. Youth pom poms require more deliberation than you might think. Custom pom poms are often ordered to match uniforms and school colors perfectly; metallic pom poms are usually chosen because they catch the crowd’s eye. Youth pom poms add a flair to the look of cheerleaders, and have become iconic. Competitive cheerleaders are also required to wear specialized makeup. These considerations shoukdn’t be brushed aside or dismissed. Cheerleaders and their families invest a lot of money in such items. And certainly, they by no means take away from the amount of physical exertion and even danger involved in cheerleading.

The Physical Effects Of Cheerleading

Cheerleading is now recognized as a legitimate sport, as it should be. Cheerleading requires hours of weekly practice. Teams must be synchronized, and appear happy even when they’re tired and possibly in pain. Cheerleaders have an image to maintain that isn’t expected from other athletes. Most cheerleaders don’t simply dance, but perform complex tumbling routines. This means that cheerleaders often spend a lot of time in the gym perfecting back handsprings and working on “flying” routines — that is, the routines that involve pitching a girl in the air. It should come as no surprise that cheerleaders are prone to injury. Attempted pyramids are the number one cause of cheer injuries; such injuries can include broken arms, elbow injuries, broken noses, knee injuries, sprained wrists and ankles, back and head injuries, and broken collarbones. At the same time, it’s hard to find a cheerleader who wouldn’t do it all over again. These girls and boys aren’t just dedicated — they’re determined!

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