Cheerleading is one of the fastest growing sports in the UK and so now, the question is being asked: Are cheerleaders actually the ultimate athletes? Cheerleaders are often frustrated by what they do not being recognised by some as a sport, but finally they might be getting the recognition they deserve and these are a few reasons why:
Cardio & Strength
Cheer routines are often only a few minutes in length but they’re unbelievably intense and require strong cardio and physical strength from everyone involved. Cheerleaders’ serious about their performance are fiercely competitive and work hard to get in shape with many training for up to 25 hours a week doing aerobics, weight lifting, body conditioning and dance choreography to ensure that from start to finish, their performances are flawless. Make no mistake, cheerleaders are true athletes who, individually and as a team, push themselves to the absolute limits to show what the human body is capable of.
Undoubtedly some of the most impressive components of a cheer routine are the acrobatics and mastering them can take years of dedicated practice and training. On the floor or in the air, dazzling displays of tucks, flips, split-lifts and rotations rely on the agility, strength and coordination of every cheerleader in a squad and there is a huge amount of teamwork and trust involved.
Timing and Precision
Cheer routines are fast-paced and at any one time, the number of complex, choreographed moves, flips, jumps and steps involved must be synchronised and executed to perfection. Timing and precision is crucial, not only to ensure that the stunt transitions are pulled-off safely, but that the beat-matched musicality of everyone involved maximises the visual effect of a performance for an audience and achieves the best possible scores from judges who scrutinise every detail during competitions.
Cheerleading is by no means an easy sport. The risk of injury, particularly with the acrobatic elements, is high and can potentially be severe. Sprains, breaks and dislocations are not uncommon and in the US, where the cheerleading sports industry is well-established, cheer athletes have the highest rate of serious injuries in all sports and they account for 66% of all major injuries to female athletes. When things go wrong they have the potential to cause serious long term injury or worse, so it takes real guts, tenacity and resilience to face the fear, participate fully and overcome the physiological effects of surging adrenalin to deliver a safe and strong cheer performance.
Like most team sports, cheer squads enter into competitions against one another, but unlike the average sporting event, there is an element of spectacle required that goes beyond performing the steps of a routine. Cheerleading is a stylish sport in which, much like Olympic gymnastics and ice-skating, individuals are expected to fulfil all of the athletic expectations of them and do it with a smile to entertain large audiences and make the unbelievably difficult look incredibly easy.
Combining a variety of athletic disciplines and pulling off a knock-out performance with a smile takes athleticism to a whole new level and that’s why cheerleaders are the ultimate athletes.