Are you interested in joining a competitive cheerleading team? Check out this list of the top 10 things you should consider.
Author: Nick Verburg
1. The Athletes
The first thing you need to know about competitive cheerleading, is that people that make the sport. Cheerleaders are some of the most intense, driven, and passionate athletes in the world. The variety of elements of the sport, mixed with the extremely competitive nature of the sport produces tough, strong willed athletes. In addition, the performance aspect teaches those athletes confidence and how to shine in a crowd. Something all cheerleaders share is an incredible ambition for success, on and off the mat.
Cheerleading can be a pretty expensive sport, so be prepared to make a financial commitment along with your time commitment. Money can be a hard thing to come by for extra-curricular activities, especially if you're a young adult paying for yourself, but try not to be intimidated by the raw cost! Many programs offer fundraising opportunities as well as payment plans, to take some of the stress off of paying for your gym time, travel, and registration.
3. Skill Requirements
Cheerleading is comprised of multiple elements, which is what makes it such a dynamic and challenging sport! In a two and a half minute routine you will stunt, tumble, build pyramids, do jumps, and dance! Now that might seem like a lot, and at the highest levels it is incredibly demanding, but with the different divisions of competition, no matter where you are personally, you can find a team to grow and learn with!
Cheerleading tryouts feel like more than just a test of your abilities, it's a test of YOU. A good coach cares just as much about attitude and personality as they do about skill level, so you will be expected to be a performer and a teammate, not just an athlete! Cheer routines aren't games or matches, they are PERFORMANCES, so it's important that tryouts test all of these things, not just your skill level.
5. Cheerleading Competition
A word you'll hear all the time in the cheer world is fierce; and there is no better word to describe competition day. Unlike most sports, cheerleading is something you train most of the year for; to only have a handful of actual performances, so can see the importance of that tiny two and a half minute opportunity when athletes hit the floor.
Also very unique to cheerleading, is the support from EVERYONE for every team! Although it is an incredibly competitive sport, every team that competes gets supported by everyone. From cheering for impressive stunts, to clapping along for the dance, having all athletes support each other is an awesome part of cheer competition.
6. The Personal Growth
Cheerleading provides much more than just a form of exercise. Cheer events are always very social, and performing is a great way to build confidence! For both stunting and tumbling, there's tons of knowledge and great coaching to help you learn, but in the end you always have to find how to make YOUR body do it. This helps you learn how to self analyze and be critical of your actions! Cheer will change more than just your strength and flexibility; it changes your outlook, your ability to learn, and your confidence too!
7. The Family Feel
I'm not sure what makes this such a common phenomenon in cheerleading, but the love and compassion cheerleaders share with one another is bar none in competitive sports. Once you combine the passion and the struggles of training with the highs and lows of feeling your successes and failures together as a team, you always end up a family. Cheerleaders have huge hearts, and it's that welcoming feeling the community has that makes it so hard to leave once you're a part of it.
8. Cheerleading Provides Role Models
Cheerleading programs are typically filled with a lot of different teams, full of athletes of all ages. This means that not only can the little ones have people to look up to from the very beginning, but it also gives the older athletes a chance to be a role model! Successful programs are full of successful athletes, and being surrounded by ambitious and talented people is guaranteed to make you a better athlete, as well as a better person!
9. Cheerleading is a Global Sport
Although cheerleading is most popular in the US, with 1.5 MILLION athletes participating annually; the sport has taken off in many countries! The most recent World Cheerleading Championship had over 40 countries, with 9000 athletes competing in cheer alone! And that's just for level 5 and 6. Even more go for the Summit, which is for the lower levels. Being able to share your love for the sport, with people from all over the planet, is an experience athletes wouldn't trade for the world.
10. It Can Provide a Future
Cheerleading is so much more than just a hobby, or a past time. Not only can coaching or administrating in programs earn you money, there are lots of Colleges and Universities that offer scholarships for cheerleading! Being able to help you create a future for yourself with something you love is an incredible opportunity. Athletes pour their hearts and souls into perusing excellence in this sport, and knowing they can get something in return for their hard work makes all the blood sweat and tears even more worth it.