Is Cheerleading a Sport? Analyzing Athleticism and Team Dynamics

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Updated: Sep 05, 2023
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The Essence and Demands of Cheerleading


Is cheerleading a sport or just a thing to do for fun? For years, people didn’t recognize cheerleading as a sport. But now people cheer for the competition and for home teams. Cheer is also a way to make friends and learn new life skills for the competition and for real life, too. Cheerleading is a sport because you’re on a team of 5–36 people. Teams are competing against other teams from worldwide or national titles. Like football, cheerleaders put a lot of time into flexibility and strength to prepare them for competition. Cheerleading, like most sports, also helps people boost self-confidence.

Team Structure and the Rigorous Preparation

5-36 people because you are going to need some flyers, bases to hold up the flyers, and some spotters. Flyers are the people that are thrown up in the air during stunts. The base serves as the foundation of the stunt. Without bases, the flyer wouldn’t go up, as it’s the base’s job to lift or throw the flyer. A spotter is a trained member of the team that watches for and works to reduce hazards during stunts and tumbling.

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Time and effort

Cheerleaders often learn routines. For competitive cheerleaders, routines are often 2 minutes and 30 seconds. But even a 60-second routine can take many hours to practice. Choreography must be taught and perfected, stunts must be practiced, and the entire routine must be run through multiple times. Even during these processes, many changes can occur, making the routine a little different. It takes time for a team to learn a routine and perfect it. Once performed, it might seem as though it is done effortlessly, but that is the secret of cheerleading. If the performance looks easy, it was done right.

“I started in Grade 9 many moons ago, and it changed my life really, certainly from the perspective of becoming a much better athlete than I think I ever could have been, but also the lessons that it taught me in order to be dedicated and committed to something,” said Joyce from Beach Cheer Athletics.

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Cheerleading can help make you feel like you become a better athlete than you were before. It also helps you with flexibility, endurance, and strength. Cheerleading has helped me be more comfortable because there are so many different spots in a routine and different spots on a team. If you’re short, there’s a spot for you. If you’re tall, there’s a spot for you. If you’re chunky, there’s a spot for you. If you’re skinny, there’s a spot for you. No matter what you are, there’s always going to be a spot for you in the team or in a routine.

The Debate: Is Cheerleading Truly a Sport?

Cheerleading is not a sport because you’re not competing directly with another team. Cheerleading is also not a sport because you just dancing around. Cheerleading is a sport because it helps people feel like they have been better athletes than they could ever be. Fitness is important for anyone participating in sports. In cheerleading, it is best to focus on three areas: flexibility, strength, and endurance. Strength is very important for every cheerleading skill. When stunting, it is easier to lift and hold flyers, while it also helps avoid injury. Endurance is also critical, although it is easy to overlook. Some stunts last longer than a few seconds, so each person in the stunt needs the endurance to perform it completely. Even a simple, 30-second routine requires lots of energy.

  • American Association of Cheerleading Coaches & Administrators (AACCA). (2018). Safety Guidelines. AACCA.

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Is Cheerleading a Sport? Analyzing Athleticism and Team Dynamics. (2023, Sep 05). Retrieved from