What is cheerleading?
Cheerleading is a fun, fast-paced, dynamic sport that encompasses stunt, tumbling, tosses, and dance (and within a routine totaling two and a half minutes) and requires dedication and a strong work ethic from the male and female athletes that participate. It is as physically demanding as any other mainstream sport and is one of the fastest-growing team-based athletic sports in the USA and Australia. Cheer is for all ages, giving athletes the opportunity to showcase their skills at a state level, as well as nationally and internationally.
Introducing the Australian All Star Cheerleading Federation:
(AASCF 2014, 'Become a Cheerleader with the Australian All-Star Cheerleading Federation!', <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voEWxAMs3j0>)
What are cheerleaders taught within a professional club environment?
Cheerleaders are taught to tumble, jumps, stunt, dance, and are taught to safely increase flexibility, strength, and coordination.
Stunting is very unique to the sports cheerleading and acrobatics, stunting involves the lifting and throwing of athletes during routines. There are usually 4-5 athletes to a lifting group, this is called a stunt group. The stunt group's athletes work extremely hard all year to build their lifting and flying (the athlete being lifted is known as a flyer) skills. Initially, stunting involves building body strength and conditioning in preparation to safely perform the lifts involved in stunting. Athletes are then taught lifting techniques in a controlled environment with professional instructors, these lifts are performed close to the ground. The trust, confidence, and connections built between athletes during cheer and especially stunting are like nothing else. As the group stunts athlete's gain in experience and optimizes their teamwork timing and technique, the stunts learned will increase in difficulty always keeping athletes excited and eager to learn more!
Tumbling refers to flips, roundoffs, cartwheels, rolls, handsprings, etc that you see in cheerleading routines, similar to the floor skills in gymnastics. Cheerleading puts all these skills together during the cheerleading routine. Excitingly athletes perform choreographed tumble all at the same time to some fast-paced and exciting music.
What are the benefits of students participating in team sports:
Participation in physical activity is linked to numerous psychological, physiological, and physical health benefits. Programs that emphasized aerobic training exerted the largest effect on children’s cognitive and achievement outcomes.
1. Builds confidence. When playing a sport, children have the opportunity to show their skills, gain greater self-awareness, and enjoy an activity that they love the most.
2. Provides consistent exercise. Research suggests that most kids have too much screen time and not enough hands-on physical activity. Team sports commit your child to regular exercise, which helps boost immunity and contributes to overall physical health.
3. Develops relationships. Children build friendships with other children and their coaches, which is a great way for your child to expand their social skills and understand expectations.
4. Contributes to stronger academics. Children who play team sports are more apt to have stronger academic achievements. Through sports, kids learn the importance of time management and discipline.
5. Helps put winning into perspective. This can be a real sore subject for some kids. Participating in team sports gives kids the opportunity to gain an understanding of both winning and losing, as well as recognize the value of every teammates’ abilities in contributing toward a shared goal.
6. Teaches respect. In team sports, children learn to respect other authoritative figures, such as coaches, judges, as well as their peers.
7. Encourages family involvement. Your child is not the only one who will benefit from participation in team sports. Moms, dads, and siblings can practice plays, attend competitions, as-well as showcase and cheer each other on, providing a bonding opportunity for the whole family.
(Harvard reference for academic research: Alicia L. Fedewa & Soyeon Ahn (2011) The Effects of Physical Activity and Physical Fitness on Children's Achievement and Cognitive Outcomes, Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 82:3, 521-535)