Is cheerleading a sport? This is a question that many people ask, and when they ask this question the most common answer is no. I 100% disagree with that. Cheerleading is one of the hardest, most time consuming, and dangerous sports that one can participate in. I have been cheering since I was 14 years old and I never once regretted the decision to make sacrifices for this sport and my team.

In competitive cheerleading there are many components. Stunting, Tosses, Tumbling, Jumps, and Dance sections are some of the most crucial parts that make up a routine. All of these sections are scored by technique, quantity, difficulty, and creativity. Most people will ask, “How do we maximize our score in a routine?” Simply enough, there are usually charts online that tell you how many people you need to participate in each section to max out your teams score.

Stunting is when one person (usually referred to as a flier or top girl) gets held in the air by typically 3 or less other people (referred to as bases), when stunting the bases must find a creative way to get the girl into the air and then only catch their feet. Usually this means that the flier will have to spin or flip from the ground to get to the top of the stunt with the help of her bases tossing her up. This can be the most dangerous part of cheerleading if the bases and flier are not trained correctly. The flier has to know how to control her body and the bases must be able to catch the flier as she flips and spins on the way up or down from a stunt.

As we get to the tumbling section a lot of people need to understand the mental and physical strength that has to do with this specific part of cheerleading. Tumbling is what you see on the Olympics when the gymnasts are flipping all over the place on their floor routines. While the cheerleaders and gymnasts make this look easy, it takes a lot of time to get all of these important skills for the team you are on. A good example of a team that maximizes their higher-level tumbling skills is Top Gun: TGLC.

Tosses are almost like stunting except the goal of a toss is to throw the flier as high in the air as your can and then catcher her on the way down. While the girl is about 10 to 15 feet in the air she must then kick, twist, or flip depending on what level the team she is on competes. The bases must focus on the girl that is in the air the entire time as she does her twists, kicks, and flips all while there are bright lights that are shining on the stage beaming in their eyes. All of them must make sure that they do their jobs because if the flier messes up then she kicks a base and doesn’t get caught, if the bases look away or get distracted then the flier hits the floor and can get seriously injured.

For the 2017-2018 cheerleading season at least 75% of the athletes on the team must perform 2 connected jumps with one additional jump or 3 connected jumps to maximize their score. Jumps require the cheerleader to jump of the ground and hit a position with their legs. Jumps are my biggest struggle because they take a lot of time and hip flexor strength to get them to an appropriate height. Depending on what level the team is some of these athletes even have to add a tumbling pass connected to a jump.

Dance is where most of the teams will get super creative. This is usually at the end of a routine and only lasts about 15 seconds. Coaches will go step-by-step and section-by-section to make sure that every motion and every movement is made at the exact time that it is supposed to. Most teams will incorporate hip-hop or other styles of dance to give the end of their routine some flair and sass.

Most people don’t realize how much work is put into a cheerleading routine. For the entire 2 minutes and 30 seconds these athletes are focused and committed to this routine. Just like football or baseball they spend hours and hours in the gym working to perfect those skills to be successful. Cheerleading is a sport and the kids are most defiantly athletes.