The Basics of Male Cheerleading
What started out as an all-male sport is now moving back towards its roots…well, sort of. Since the 1920’s, women have dominated cheerleading and over the years it became associated with femininity. But now that cheerleading incorporates tumbling, stunting and acrobatics, its reputation as a wimpy pastime is long gone. It is finally being recognized as a legitimate sport.
As cheerleading re-vamps, more and more male athletes are becoming involved in the sport—in a major way. Coed teams are springing up all over the world, and male athletes as young as seven years-old are joining their local cheer teams.
Although male cheerleaders are no longer considered rare, many people both inside and outside of the sport are still in the dark about this elite group of athletes.
Do You Have What it Takes?
Being a male cheerleader is not easy. In fact, you must be extremely strong, flexible and resilient. It can be helpful if you are already active in other sports before you start cheerleading, so you recognize the dedication and work ethic required to be on a team. Male cheerleaders must be team players: You are never truly performing on your own and there are no personal victories in team cheering.
Most importantly, to be a male cheerleader, you also have to have an open mind and be willing to try new things. Most boys grow up knowing about sports like baseball and football, but cheerleading is usually foreign territory. If you join a cheer squad, you have to learn all of the stunts and tumbling that go along with the sport. You probably won’t be familiar with the movements and drills, but if you are athletic and work hard, you will get the hang of it in no time.
Hot Tip: Play Two Sports at Once
You have always wanted to be a male cheerleader, but you have been too busy with baseball practice to get around to it… not a problem! Many cheerleading squads have coed teams strictly for competition season, which is perfect to do in the off-season of your other sports.
Also, many cheer teams are desperate for male cheerleaders, so they are willing to accommodate to alternate sport schedules. Never rule out cheerleading based on the fact that you play another sport!
A True Partnership
When you start coed cheerleading, you are not only a part of a team, but you are the second half of a strong partnership. Most male cheerleaders have a stunt partner who is a female on the team to perform stunts with. You usually stick with your stunt partner for the entire season, which helps to create a special bond: You succeed and fail together; you count on each other more than anyone else; you depend on the other for safe cheering; and hopefully, you win championships together too!
One of the best things about male cheerleading is being a part of magnificent stunts. Coed cheerleading takes stunting to a whole new level, partly due to the incredible strength of the males on the squad. With males as the bases, female flyers are able to get higher in the air and therefore perform more difficult acrobatics.
Also, the combination of group and partner stunts allows coed teams to be more innovative when it comes to performing. They can mix-and-match different stunts and stunt groups, which is something that all-girl squads cannot do as easily.
Some difficult stunts that coed teams commonly perform are:
- Toss to Hands
- Toss Extension
- Full-Up Stretch
- Walk-In Liberty
- Double Cupie
- Basket Toss
These are just a few of the many moves that make coed stunting so incredible.
Unlike female cheerleaders, the majority of male cheerleaders do not have a background in gymnastics. They do, however, seem to catch on to the tumbling quite quickly! In fact, most competitive coed teams showcase the tumbling talent of the male athletes because they can get such great height and power in their passes.
If you do have a gymnastics background, cheerleading may be perfect for you, since it will give you the chance to showcase your skills during performances and competitions. Tumbling is a huge part of cheerleading and any gymnastics experience will give you (and your squad) a major advantage.
Perks & Benefits
Although you may have to fight off some stereotypes, being a male cheerleader definitely has its advantages:
- Scholarships: There are many scholarship opportunities for male cheerleaders who want to pursue the sport in college. Because male cheerleaders are still a small group, it is much easier to get financial help than you might think.
- Recognition: Being a part of a coed cheerleading team can get you national, and possibly international, recognition.
- Travel: You also get the opportunity to travel because a majority of coed teams compete at the national level.
- Camaraderie: You get to be a part of a wonderful team of other athletes that share your passion. Coed cheer teams have a bond that most sports aren’t lucky enough to experience because of gender-separation. The inclusiveness of these teams makes for an experience unlike anything else in sports.
The Future of the Sport
There is no denying the fact that male cheerleaders face several stereotypes. Many people outside of the sport consider them to be feminine, or at least less masculine, than other athletes. The sport has been dominated by women for such a long time that it can be hard for some people to understand why males would want to be a part of cheerleading.
But the new wave of coed cheerleading is both competitive and elite, which has recently drawn in many different types of athletes. Anyone who knows what it takes to be a male cheerleader understands that they are incredible athletes and deserve respect for what they bring to the sport. As more and more males start cheerleading, it is only a matter of time until the false stereotypes will fade away.
Almost 50% of all college cheerleaders are male.
The sport of cheerleading is constantly changing and so are the athletes involved. The door is now wide open for male athletes who want a challenging and rewarding experience.