The recent surge in the popularity of cheerleading makes it hard to fit all cheerleaders into one simple category. The sport has changed and branched out in order to accommodate the millions of participants worldwide. Many people outside of the sport assume that all cheerleaders are school-affiliated, but that is not the case. The sport now ranges from competitive cheerleading to the newest addition, street cheerleading.
Whether you are just starting the sport or looking to try something new, check out the info on the different types of cheerleading below.
A school-sponsored cheerleading team is directly affiliated with a school, either public or private, and all of the members on the team must attend that school. The main purpose of this type of team is to promote school spirit and motivate fans during sporting events. Over 80% of high schools in the United States have cheerleading squads, and many junior high schools are starting programs as well. Although some school-sponsored cheerleading teams do compete, their main task is to cheer at games and pep rallies. These squads are a direct representation of the school, a responsibility reflected in their uniform and team name.
There are a few downsides to being a part of a school-sponsored cheerleading team. Some schools recognize cheerleading as a sport and, therefore, give the team funding. Unfortunately, there is still a large number of schools that consider cheerleading a club, and because of this, many teams do not get proper funding or recognition.
College level cheerleading is technically school-sponsored, but it is very different from cheering at the junior high and high school levels. Not all colleges have cheer teams, but the ones that do only accept the cream of the crop. College cheerleaders attend games, as well as other school related functions, like fundraisers and community events.
In addition to cheering at games, most collegiate level cheer squads also compete. Like any other sport, they want to bring home a title in the name of the school. At this level, the competition is fierce because every cheerleader has been hand selected.
Many colleges have not one, but two cheerleading teams: a competitive squad and a non-competitive squad; or both a coed and all-girl squad. Because there are so many responsibilities for college level cheerleaders, it can take more than one team to properly represent the school at games and competitions.
Almost 82% of high school cheerleaders in the United States go on to attend a four-year college!
At the youth level, cheerleaders learn the basics of the sport, as well as sportsmanship and team skills.
Youth cheerleading has grown in popularity due to the surge in participation at the junior high and high school levels. Most youth cheerleading teams are affiliated with youth football leagues and sometimes youth basketball leagues. They are contained at the regional level, and although some teams compete, it is not the focus of the league. Scholastics and education are very important at the youth league level and all participants must keep a certain GPA to remain in the organization.
All-Star cheerleading is the sport’s fastest growing group because it incorporates males, females, and athletes of all ages and skill levels. This type of cheerleading is for those who want to bypass sideline cheering and focus strictly on competition. It appeals to people who love competing, but who don’t necessarily love being in front of their classmates.
All-Star cheerleading is more competitive and elite than school-sponsored cheerleading and also requires a big time commitment. Training starts months before competition season, and you might end up competing year round if you earn your way to nationals.
Hot Tip: Are You an All-Star?
If you love to cheer, but don’t necessarily see yourself as a representative of your school, then All-Star cheering may be right for you. To be on an All-Star team, you have to have a competitive spirit and be a team player:
- You are with the same squad for the entire year.
- You work on the same routine for the entire season.
- All-Star teams have one goal and one goal only and that is to win.
- You don’t cheer at games, but instead you perform a routine in front of judges for the highest score possible.
Be realistic about what you want out of your cheerleading career. If this seems like something you would enjoy, find an All-Star team in your area!
Professional cheerleaders cheer for a professional sports team (perhaps the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders rings a bell). Professional cheerleading is very competitive and making one of these teams is no easy task. Although professional teams don’t compete, they are always striving to be the best in their league and/or division.
Some professional cheerleading squads do actually stunt and tumble, but a majority of them do not. Most professional teams have morphed into dance teams, but because they cheer on the sidelines they are still referred to as cheerleaders.
At this level, cheerleaders are expected to do a whole lot more than just cheer: They also make appearances, do philanthropic and charity work, modeling and advertising. They are in front of thousands of fans as well as millions of television viewers, so they must be the best of the best.
Street cheer is the newest addition to the cheerleading family and it combines hip hop and contemporary dance moves with chants and cheers. Although traditional cheerleading does incorporate elements of dance, street cheer takes it to a whole new level.
This type of cheerleading is big in Europe, particularly in the United Kingdom. An official street cheer team was created in 2008 as a branch of the UKCA and the first-ever Street Cheer Nationals took place in October of 2009.
If you have a love for both dance and cheer, this may be the type of cheerleading for you! If there isn’t a team in your area, check out ukstreetcheer.org.uk for more information about how to start a program.
There is a Team for You!
Cheerleading is a multi-dimensional sport that has something to offer almost every type of athlete. The sport caters to both men and women of all age groups and skill levels. There is a perfect team for anyone, anywhere in the world!