Cheerleading: the sport of cheerleading

By ganerationlmn 5 Min Read
Cheerleading the sport of cheerleading

When we talk about cheerleading, the image that often comes to mind is the one constructed by TV and cinema: popular American high school girls dressed in uniform and parading around the school, but cheerleading is much more than swinging. pompoms and chanting war cries on the edge of the American football field. In addition to supporting a team of any sport and entertaining the crowd, cheerleading, like any other sport, has its own competitions and rules.

In 2016, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) recognized the ICU (acronym in English for International Cheerleaders Union) as part of the sports federations and, this year, full recognition was granted, in practice, this means that the modality is considered a sport and, in the future, depending on negotiations, it could even be part of the Olympic Games.

The name cheerleading, derived from English, translates to cheerleading. Even here in Brazil, people commonly know the sport by its original name, and they refer to participants in the sport as cheerleaders. The routines are cheerleading presentations, mixed choreography, acrobatics, jumps, and human pyramids.

History of cheerleading

Cheerleading is centuries old. The first known team of this sport is that of Princeton University, in the United States, which emerged in the 1880s. Initially, cheerleading, like most sports, was an exclusive practice for men. In the post-war period, from the 1920s onwards, women began to participate and today they are the majority.

There are different ways to classify cheerleading teams. Due to their origin, the teams can be school-based, when the participants study at the same elementary or high school institution; University, with athletes representing some Higher Education entity; and all-star, which brings together cheerleaders from different backgrounds. It is also possible to separate teams by gender. People refer to mixed teams as coed, an abbreviation for coeducational. There are also female teams, called all girls, and male teams, all boys.


They regulated cheerleading before. There were many accidents and injuries, so it was necessary to create rules to bring more safety to the sport. Currently, cheerleading competitions comply with 2 main regulations: that of the ICU and that of the USASF (acronym in English for North American All-Star Federation).

These documents separate the participating teams, ensuring that each group will only compete with others at the same level. The elements allowed in routines depend on the level at which the team is competing. In the ICU classification, there are 1 non-competitive level, for children up to 5 years old, called Beginner (beginner, in English), and 5 competitive levels (Novice, Average, Advanced, Elite, and Premier). According to USASF, the non-competitive level is 0 and the competitive levels range from 1 to 6.

Routines must be 2.5 minutes long. Failing to complete the routine within the designated time frame results in a point deduction. Other actions that can lead to penalties for the team include exiting the competition area, experiencing falls, executing elements exceeding their skill level or those that are prohibited, and engaging in inappropriate or unsportsmanlike behavior.

The evaluation considers the execution and difficulty of each element that makes up the routine. The execution score starts at 5 and, as the group makes mistakes. They discount it up to a maximum of 3.5. The difficulty rating ranges from 3 to 5 and each frame. Participants can fit the elements, also called stunts, into one of the 4 types of difficulty.

The judges also take into account what they call overall, which takes into account the creativity of stunts and pyramids. The dance, the performance, and the composition of the presentation as a whole.

One of the best-known elements of cheerleading is the human pyramid. Training is based on 2 or more stunts, another very common element in the sport. The stunt consists of 2 to 4 bases and 1 flyer. The bases are the athletes who support the flyer, and the participant who “flies”. Making movements in the air when lifted by the bases. In the human pyramid, participants connect flyers from different stunts by hands or feet.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *