10 Things everyone should know about competitive cheer

While some teams are off to compete at Worlds and Summit, many others are entering the “try out” season.  Here are some interesting facts about competitive cheer, also known as All Star cheer,  we thought you would enjoy.  And though most experienced cheerleaders may be aware of these facts, many cheer newbies and parents may not.

When it comes to competitive cheer, there is a lot to learn:  What are the rules? How old does one have to be to start competing? What do judges look for when watching you perform? Here are just a few basics everyone should know:

  1. The “father” of modern cheer leading is Lawrence “Herkie” Herkimer – he dedicated his life to cheer leading and invented the “herkie” jump you see in cheer routines.
  2. The governing organization over all star cheer in the US is the United States All Star Federation (USASF)
  3. A competitive cheer squad must include at least five members and can have as many as 36 (depending on the age group).
  4. Cheerleaders as young as five years old can participate in competitive cheer! Their division is cute and appropriately called “Tiny Cheer.”
    UPDATE: As of 2016 there is a new division called “prep” for beginner teams that don’t practice as often.
  5. In 2011, cheerleaders fought to get competitive cheer leading its well-deserved sport status. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. The NCAA still doesn’t recognize competitive cheer leading as a sport, which means it can’t be considered a championship sport.
    UPDATE: As of December 8, 2016, the International Olympic Committee gave provisional status to competitive cheer as a sport. This is important because once the olympics recognizes an event, other countries follow.
  6. Over the years, Cheer Athletics has won the most Worlds medals.  The second highest is California All Stars.
  7. Maddie Gardner made history in 2010 when she performed a ball up 360 tick-tock. It was the first time a cheerleader has ever performed this stunt at Worlds.
  8. Safety is a huge concern at competitions. Major points will be deducted if a squad performs stunts that are considered illegal in their group level. Also, if a flyer lands head down (even if she’s caught), that can be considered a safety violation, since she could have landed on her head or neck.
  9. Judges look at a lot of factors when watching a performance, including: tumbling skills, jumps, cheers, choreography, execution, tosses, arm and body motions, and transitions between each part of the routine.
    The scrutiny is necessary,  a cheer squad can’t be good at just one element. In order to win, a team must be a great team overall.
  10. When it comes to judging, scores aren’t just about nailing stunts. Points also depend on sharp arm motions. Sometimes parents and others in the stands will think a cheerleader nailed her cheer motions but won’t realize that points were lost because her arms were too loose or limp.

Every year this sport becomes more exciting to watch and even more exciting for those participating. The quest for Summit or Worlds is real.  Whether you’re just starting to cheer or have been at it for many years – you know this is quite possibly the greatest sport ever!


Parts of this article taken from post in OmniCheer dated  

1 Comment

  1. An eleventh thing, lol. My daughter practices as much as 6-10 hours a week & she’s got bigger “guns” than most guys in her class. These athletes work really hard & deserve as much respect as other school athletes. It’s not for popularity it’s because she loves it.

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