Cheerleading is fast becoming a Universal Sport

Cheerleading is one of the many sports activities which includes dance amongst its’ components.The Wikepedia definition is “an activity that uses organized routines made from elements of gymnastics, dance or performance stunting to cheer on sports teams and matches or to compete at cheerleading competitions”. It is most common in North America but has spread elsewhere.

In the United Kingdom this phenomenon has not caught on with the public. Attempts to introduce it in the early days of Premiership football were abandoned after it met with widespread derision. Nevertheless there is a British association which holds national competitions every year. At present a UK Head Teacher is encouraging this training to get teenage girls intersted in Physical Education.

A cheerleading performer is called a cheerleader. Here are some of the significant dates associated with this sport.:-

1883 – English university students started cheering their favorite atheletes at sporting events.
1884 – At Princeton New Jersey Thomas Peebles started a yell of “Sis Boom Rah!”
1889 – At the University of Minnosota Johnny Campbell was the first cheerleader. He yelled through a megaphone “Rah, Rah, Rah! Ski – U – Mah! Hoo – Ray! Varsity Minn – e-so – tah!
1923 – University of Minnesota female students were allowed to cheer. They brought gymnastics and tumbling to the routines.
1956 – Herkimer (one of the founding fathers of the sport) invented the first pom pom.
1960 – The Baltimore Colts add the first professional cheerleading squad in history.
1971 – ICF introduces the “Cheerleader All America Award” for outstanding sportsmanship.
1981 – New safety guidelines issued.
1982 – The sport returns to Great Britain and is introduced into Germany, Japan and Sweden.
2000 – Cheerleading Alliance changes to Cheer and Dance Alliance as there is an ever increasing need for both cheer and dance information.

In 2003 the National Council for Spirit Safety and Education (NCSSE) was formed. It required college cheer coaches to successfully complete a nationally recognized safety training programme.

In 2005 a 14 year old girl fell from a height and lost her life.Recent research shows that girls are more likely to be injured than the sportsmen they cheer on.

The days are over when being a cheerleader depended mainly on being pretty and popular. That is now an outdated concept. Girls are no longer just on the sidelines.

Some have joined pom pom squads in which the purpose is to be a performer, not a supporter. This mirrors the change in gender attitude. Now teams compete against each other and are not so likely to be seen on the field of play.

Pom Pom girls do not appear on the sidelines of games. They go out onto the court or field at half time to perform rock dance routines.Pom Poms are used for a variety of reasons including attracting the attention of a crowd, accentuating movement, distracting an opposing team and adding an element of sparkle to a cheer, chant or cheer/dance routine. Most often pom poms are used in pairs – one for each hand.

Many well-known celebrities have been cheerleaders including Madonna, Halle Berry, Paula Abdul and Calista Flockhart Thousands of girls attend cheerleading workshops and camps every year.

Today this sport is most closely associated with American football and to a lesser degree basketball. Sports such as soccer, ice hockey, volleyball, baseball and wrestling sometimes sponsor squads.

In the 1980s, teams not associated with schools or sports leagues, whose main objective was competition, began to emerge.

All -Star cheerleading involves a squad of anywhere between 5-36 females and/or males. The squad performs almost year-round for competitions but they only actually perform for up to two and a half minutes during their routines.
During a competition routine, a squad performs carefully choreographed stunting, tumbling, jumping and dancing to their own choice of music.All Star competitors are placed into divisions based upon age, size of the team, and ability level. Many competitions include dance team competitions as well.

Nowadays, many cheerleaders are excellent dancers, but the classic cheerleader spends a good deal of time performing precision movements. These involve strict timing and sharp, defined motions.

Dance in many ways is the opposite of precision movement.Rather than punctuating each motion as a separate move, dance focuses on smooth and flowing routines. Many squads combine dance with precision movements, by using dance moves for the legs, for instance, while using the arms for precision movements.

A large number of schools now have entirely different squads for cheerleading and for dance, which demonstrates how different these two disciplines can be. Music can be such an excellent asset for any routine, that every squad need to consider chorographing a few dance moves.
Competitive cheerleading is a major time and financial commitment yet it remains a rapidly growing sport and industry.

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