We aren’t sure why but cheer gets a bad reputation. Cheerleaders are often described negatively rather than serious athletes. But anyone (and we all know!) who has ever tried cheer knows that it is one of the most physically challenging sports in the world. Cheerleading requires athleticism, strength, flexibility, coordination, and dedication. With its great physical rewards, cheer is also a social, team-based activity that can help boost kids’ self-confidence and leadership skills. Think about the benefits of cheerleading to help you decide if cheerleading is right for your child.
Some you might think that cheerleaders are just there for moral support while the “real” athletes perform on the field, but nothing could be further from the truth. The tumbling, dancing, stunts, and jumps that comprise a typical routine require stamina, endurance and lots of practice. While competitive routines are generally only two minutes and thirty seconds long, repeatedly practicing the moves adds up to an effective cardio workout. Serious competitive cheer requires several hours of practice each week. Cheerleading programs often include strength training as an additional component of practice.
Good athletes make the sport of cheer look easy, but doing it right requires physical strength that builds muscles in the lower body, shoulders, and core. Certain positions on the squad–such as bases and backspots — must be able to lift and support the bottom of a stunt or pyramid sequence. This entails incredible strength, focus, and balance to support the weight of other teammates and ensure their safety. Flyers need strength and flexibility to position their bodies into the air with the support of the bases and to keep their positions while performing the stunt.
Coordination & Flexibility
Timing and rhythm are crucial aspects in cheer. Practicing the sport helps kids improve their body control, concentration, and balance as they coordinate their moves to a beat and stay on count. Stretching exercises before, during and after cheerleading practice helps increase flexibility. Part of cheering involves high kick baskets, jumps, and stunts, all of which require flexible muscles.
Cheerleading provides opportunities for motivated kids to learn leadership skills. Even those who don’t aspire to becoming a team leader can benefit by taking the opportunity to demonstrate leadership by:
- Offering advice to help teammates improve skills
- Setting a positive mood with their attitude
- Exemplifying hard work and discipline on and off the mat
- Being receptive to trying new things
Like all team sports, cheerleading offers more than physical benefits. Sports can help teach kids essential life skills, including teamwork, discipline, and communication. Squad members must rely on each other for the effectiveness of routines, as well as ensuring each other’s safety during difficult moves. If competition against other squads is involved, it becomes even more important to work together as a unified team.
Sports like cheerleading can help kids develop their self-confidence as well as their athleticism. Having a team to support and rely on can make kids feel more connected at school. Learning to master difficult skills, helping out teammates, and performing well at games and competitions can benefit the athletes who cheer, as well as the other athletes they support on the field or court.
As we say in competitive cheerleading—See you on the mat.