Cheerleading tends to be written off as a female, after-school activity that some don’t even consider a sport. Cheerleading is not just putting on a colorful, bedazzled outfit–there is hard work and team dynamics that are necessary for each athlete to safely perform these acrobatic stunts.
“Cheerleaders are some of the most intense, driven, and passionate athletes in the world,” the Cheer Information Center states. “The variety of elements of the sport, mixed with the extremely competitive nature of the sport, produces tough, strong-willed athletes.”
Here are some things you might not have known about cheerleading.
For all team sports, team bonding is essential to have a uniform and successful team where each player can count on their teammates and coach. It is vital for a cheer team to have great communication and to trust one another, not just because it makes the routines run smoothly but because it keeps the cheerleaders safe. Safety is an essential element of this dynamic and challenging sport.
Health and Concussions
Even with cheer teams that can count on every player, injuries still can occur.
More than half of the injuries seen in cheerleading are sprains and strains, but according to Athletico Physical Therapy, concussions account for 31.1 percent of injuries that occur in cheerleading.
According to a study published by The American Academy of Pediatrics, football was the leading sport of concussions during practice in 2019, but cheerleading was second and beat out several sports, including basketball, hockey, and soccer.
“You may be thinking this high rate of concussions would be from cheerleaders falling and landing on their heads. However, the cheerleading position that suffers the most concussions are the bases and athletes who support the flyers in the air by holding them up and catching them,” states Athletico Physical Therapy.
The Sport for Everyone
Despite some beliefs, cheerleading is not just a women’s sport.
“Of course, boys are bigger, and they’re stronger. They’re going to enhance any routine that they’re in because they’re able to help with the stunting,” says Shawn Lagarde, the owner and director of a cheer academy. “If people would not be so close-minded about the sport itself and just realize that anybody who has the love for those things–the tumbling, dancing, and stunting–they can enjoy cheer.”