Cheerleading 101

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Cheerleading incorporates elements of dance ,gymnastics , and intense school spirit. Cheerleading not only takes place on the sidelines of basketball games, but also in competitions on a local, state, national, and even world wide level. Cheerleading teams, called squads, may be all female, co-ed, or (rarely) all male.

Types of Cheerleading

  • School-sponsored: Most cheerleading teams represent their school. Cheerleaders can begin as early as elementary school. Many American universities have cheerleading as part of their recreation program.
  • Youth League: Many organizations that have youth basketball or football leagues sponsor cheerleaders as well. Pop Warner, for example, is a non-profit organization that gives children ages 5 to 16 the opportunity to join a football team or be a cheerleader for their football team.
  • All-Star Cheerleading: Emerging in the 1980s, All-Star Cheerleading focuses mainly on competitions. The U.S. All-Star Federation for Cheer and Dance Teams, or USASF, formed in 2003 and has since acted as the national governing body for all-star cheerleading and created specific rules and standards to use when judging performances. In late 2006, USASF assisted in creating the International All-Star Federation, or IASF, and brought cheerleading to other countries. All-Star squads are usually comprised of 6 to 36 people. Performances are intense and most squads spend all year preparing to compete. The performances, however, are a mere 2.5 minutes. All-Star squads are placed into divisions based on age, ability, team size, and gender of participants. The age of participants range from 4 to 18 and up. Squads usually compete in 5 to 8 competitions a year. The ultimate goal is to place high enough in these competitions to make it to Cheerleading Worlds, where the best squads from all over the world compete for the title of World Champions in their respected divisions.

What You'll Need

  • Shoes-- You'll definitely need a proper pair of sneakers  to get started. Choosing the wrong footwear for cheerleading can lead to very serious injuries. Choose a lightweight shoe  that has plenty of support. Most importantly, make sure the shoe fits and is comfortable! For tumbling and stunts, look for shoes that have finger grips or grooves, flexibility, shock absorption, scalloped archways and ankle support. Make sure the shoe is durable, and, if necessary, weather-proof.
  • A Uniform-- Usually a uniform  is picked out by the school, organization, or the team. Uniforms usually have the team, town, or organization name written clearly. Schools usually choose uniforms that come in their school colours.
  • Pom-Poms-- Pom-Poms  are usually provided upon making or joining a squad. They come in a variety of colours, but are usually two-toned.
  • Books, Videos, and Classes-- New to cheerleading? Not a problem. Buy a few videos  and books  on beginning cheerleading. Most coaches recommend taking a few basic tumbling classes at a local gym if you are new to cartwheels and back-hand springs.
  • A Smile-- The most important part of cheerleading is being cheerful! Smile and always demonstrate good sportsmanship. Cheerleaders are a reflection of their school, town, or organization. Stay positive and always try to be a good role model.

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