Sport Rulebook

The Evolution Safety and Strategy of Cheerleading: A Comprehensive Guide

Cheerleading is a sport that involves the display of synchronized group chants, cheers, chants, and jumps with the purpose of cheering on sports teams or as a competition in and of itself. Over the years, the evolution of cheerleading as a sport has been significant, from its male-dominated roots to the present day where it is predominantly seen as a female activity.

This phenomenon has brought in innovations that have made it safer, more interesting and a regulated sporting activity.

Male Dominated Origins

Cheerleading has been around since the late 1800s, with its roots in American football. It started as a male-only activity with a primary aim of getting people energized to cheer their teams on during football games.

The first official game that a cheer heard was heard was in 1898 and during that time it was exclusively conducted by male athletes. The main duty of the cheer squads was to encourage football teams and entertain the crowd during breaks in the game; it was more of an outdoor theater show than anything else.

Women’s Involvement andof Dances and Acrobatics

In the 20th century, cheerleading expanded to other sports aside from football and started to feature women. Its popularity continued to skyrocket, and it turned into a competitive sport that required intensive training and complex choreography, including acrobatics and dance moves.

Women began to play major roles in cheerleading after World War II, with organized cheer squads becoming common in high schools. One influential figure in the history of cheerleading is Lawrence Herkie Herkimer.

He is known as the father of cheerleading. Herkimers mission was to move cheerleading in the direction of incorporating more jumps, dance moves, and acrobatics, turning Cheerleading into an athletic activity.

Herkimer founded the company National Spirit Group in 1948, and it became a significant influence on the cheerleading industry due to its innovative moves and coaching techniques.

All Star Cheering and Evolution of the Sport

All-star cheerleading is a specialized form of cheerleading that takes place outside of an organized athletic forum and is more geared towards competition. These squads are built with cheerleaders from different schools and feature athletic movements at a higher level than regular cheerleading.

All-Star cheering competitions have evolved over the years and are now elaborate presentations with excellent music, colorful costumes, and more significant movements.

Cheerleading Association

Over time, safety has become one of the most significant concerns in cheerleading , leading to the development of the USASF (United States All Star Federation), which is the regulatory governing body for All-Star Cheerleading.

Playing Surfaces in Cheerleading

There are different types of playing surfaces used in cheerleading that are used depending on the level, safety, and formality of competitions. Traditional Surfaces: Spring Floors and Foam Floors with Landing Mats

Cheerleaders use spring floors that involve metal coils that provide more bounce.

These floors have more bounce than the traditional foam floors, which are predominantly used in training and warm-up sessions. The foam floors come with landing mats, which help to provide impact cushioning in the event of accidents.

Safest Surfaces According to Florida Gulf Coast University Study

In a study conducted by the Florida Gulf Coast University, the safest surfaces for all-star cheerleading were found to be the 54mm thick Nordic Flex Gold mats. The study found that this playing surface offers the best impact reduction and also helps to create an even surface, which offers stability to movements.


Throughout the years, the evolution of cheerleading in America has been significant, with roots that were male-dominated and centered on ensuring that crowds stayed energized during football games, to a sport that became popularized in high schools and colleges and, more recently, in a highly competitive environment. The development of playing surfaces and safety regulations to make the sport safer has been a critical consideration.

These strides forward all tie together into a well-regulated, fun, and safe environment for cheerleaders to perform and compete. Cheerleading is an intense sport that requires each member of the team to be aware of their responsibilities and their roles.

The correct execution of stunts, tumbles, and cheers can produce stunning, awe-inspiring performances. However, any mistakes could lead to accidents that can risk personal safety.

Importance of Each Position for Safety and Stunts

The positions in a cheer team play crucial roles, and they differ depending on the team’s structure. At the same time, each group member has a corresponding responsibility.

For executing complicated stunts, it is necessary to have full trust in one’s teammates and that everyone knows their respective roles with precision. The bases, for instance, are a cheer squad’s foundation, responsible for throwing the flyers into the air and holding them up when they return from stunts.

The flyers, on the other hand, are responsible for performing stunts while maintaining a tight and composed position in the air. Proper communication and trust are essential for accomplishing stunts smoothly and without disruptions.

Each team member must be aware of their roles and responsibilities, enabling them to execute cheers and stunts to perfection. Base Position: Throwing and Holding Up the Flyer

Bases hold the responsibility of supporting and throwing the flyers during stunts and other high aerial maneuvers.

Proper communication and collaboration among the bases are required when it comes to throwing a flyer into the air. Bases need to be responsible for the safety of the flyers, taking extra precautions to ensure a safe landing.

In addition to safety, bases must also have excellent execution and timing for their reactions when their flyers are in the air. Every base must have proper strength and power, as well as the ability to jump accurately while carrying flyers.

Flyer Position: Being Thrown and Performing Stunts

The flyer position is the most dynamic and active position, as it primarily involves performing stunts and supporting the team’s morale. As the fliers execute stunts in the air, the audiences attention is on them, making this position extremely important and thrilling all at once.

Flyers need to have a good level of flexibility, balance, and control. Without these, maintaining a properly poised position mid-air can be challenging.

They need to work with their bases to ensure that they are thrown accurately into the air, and they should also communicate with their team members to ensure that they can execute routines smoothly.

Referees and Officials in Cheerleading

Referees and officials in cheerleading play a vital role in ensuring that all cheerleading competitions are safe, fair, and well-regulated. They are responsible for facilitating the competition in such a way that all competing teams have clear chances of winning without having an unfair advantage.

Importance of Referees to Enforce Rules

Officials enforce the rules and regulations that govern cheerleading competitions. The ruleset includes regulations on the types of stunts required, the time limit for performances, and how scores are calculated during events.

The presence of skilled officials helps ensure that safety measures are well-maintained, such as correct execution and performance of stunts without exceeding reasonable limits.

Stunt Officials Certification through USA Cheer

The United States All Star Federation cheer (USASF) certifies US cheerleading officials. This certification ensures that all participating referees, officials and judges have undergone the necessary training and proctored examinations to regulate and facilitate contests according to standardized regulations.

The training is primarily aimed at maintaining safety in cheerleading contests and ensuring that proper rules and guidelines are adhered to by competitors. Their certification includes competencies in judging rubrics, timing of routines, deductibles, rules, and judging safety techniques.

Use of Scorecards during Competitions

The scorecards are essential tools used by referees and judges to evaluate the performance of each team in competition. A scorecard is filled out with evaluation information, including scores from each judge, giving feedback on the execution of stunts and the delivery of the choreography.

The importance of scorecards is vital in maintaining the integrity of the competition and ensures that officiating is done in a fair and unbiased way. The scorecards provided a uniform way of scoring the competing teams, maintaining a level playing field.


In summary, cheerleading requires significant teamwork and coordination among team members, and their positions have specific duties and responsibilities that are critical to the success of the team. Bases and flyers must trust each other and have effective communication, and ideally, every cheer should be executed without harm to anyone involved.

The presence of referees and officials ensures safety and standardization during competitions. Referees regulate the event and enforce rules and regulations, and certification through USASF ensures that officials are competent in cheerleading safety.

The use of Scorecards provides an objective and transparent way of evaluating the performance of competing teams, providing constructive feedback, and maintaining the integrity of the games. The roles and responsibilities of every individual, combined with referee regulation, ensures fair competitions, and safety is maintained above all else.

Coaches and Coaching in Cheerleading

Cheerleading is a team sport requiring significant coordination, hard work, and intensive training to achieve impressive feats and receive high scores. Coaches play a crucial role in ensuring that their cheerleading squads perform at their best level, but what exactly makes a great coach?

Importance of Coaches to the Sport

A cheer squad’s success or failure depends on both teamwork and proper coaching. A good coach must ensure that every athlete on the team is motivated, aware of their responsibilities and understands the necessary discipline required to accomplish stunts and cheers safely.

They must motivate, train, and inspire the whole team to achieve their best.

notable Coaches and Players

There are many notable coaches in the cheerleading world who have had a significant impact on the sport. One notable figure is Debbie Allen, who is a renowned choreographer and has become prominent in the cheerleading industry.

Some of the world’s famous cheerleaders include Gabi Butler, who is a five-time world champion with the Cheer Athletics Wildcats, and Navarro College head coach Monica Aldama, who is known for featuring on the Netflix series Cheer. The Netflix series documents the struggles, hard work, and determination of cheerleaders competing for a national championship.

requirements to Become a Cheer Coach

Becoming a cheer coach requires a valid coaching certification through reputable institutions. Cheerleading is a highly regulated sport, and a coach must have updated and sufficient skills and knowledge to facilitate training sessions where safety is a top priority.

In particular, cheer coaches undergo certification courses offered by reputable institutions like the US All-Star Federation and the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators. These certification courses aim to provide coaches with the necessary training, knowledge, and skills to ensure compliance and safety during training or in competition.

Strategy in Cheerleading

Strategy plays a critical role in determining a cheer’s success and performance. Cheerleading competitions are scored based on the successful execution of intricate stunts, tumbling, jumps, and cheers, and as such, every little detail matters.

Knowing the Score Sheet and Scoring System

Before any competition, coaches and cheerleaders must familiarize themselves with the score sheet and scoring system of that particular competition. The score sheet will outline what is required to get a high score and what the judges are looking out for.

Having this information in advance enables teams to properly prepare and practice routine execution, incorporating all the critical elements to achieve high scores. The knowledge of the score sheet ensures that the team is well balanced with stunts, jumps, and cheers.

Understanding the Rules

Just like any sport, cheerleading has rules and regulations that must be adhered to by all competing teams. Therefore, it’s essential to have a thorough understanding of these rules and regulations so that stunts and cheers meet the stipulated requirements in the performance.

Coaches ought to ensure that their teams understand and apply the rules so that they can execute stunts safely and properly.

Perfecting Stunts for Higher Scores

Proper execution and perfection of stunts are fundamental to achieving high scores in cheerleading competitions. Teams must ensure that every member can execute stunts with precision and attention to detail.

The higher the level of complexity of the stunts, the higher the scores it yields. By aiming to perfect every stunt, the whole team benefits, develops better skills, and ultimately improves their overall performance.


Cheerleading is a sport that requires teamwork, determination, precision, and a good coach. Coaches play an important role in helping cheer squads reach their full potential.

A good coach must be well-versed in cheerleading requirements, regulations, and be able to motivate and inspire their team. Strategy is also critical to cheerleading success, with understanding the regulations, score sheet, and execution of stunts being the essential driving factors.

Through understanding the regulations and applying technique, cheerleading teams can achieve high scores, successfully executing routines and ultimately attaining their desired goals. Cheerleading is a physically demanding and highly competitive sport that requires skill, hard work and dedication.

Drills are an essential component of cheerleading training that help cheerleaders hone their skills and improve their overall performance.

Importance of Drills for Skill Enhancement

Cheerleading is a sport that involves a substantial amount of stunts, jumps, and tumbling, where every movement must be precise and well-executed. Drills are an essential component of training and are useful in enhancing cheerleaders skills.

Drills assist cheerleaders and their coaches in identifying their weaknesses and working on them specifically to improve their overall performance. The following drills are designed to help cheerleaders improve their skills:

Catch Squat Drill

The catch squat is a drill that involves catching and holding the base of a flyer, who jumps, and returns to a stabilized position. This drill aims to teach cheerleaders how to catch a flyer properly and how to maintain proper balance and posture.

It is an excellent drill for both flyers and bases, promoting teamwork and trust.

Headstand Drill

The headstand drill is ideal for progressing cheerleaders that are trying out new stunts. It helps to secure the headstand balance by improving focus and core strength, thus enabling cheerleaders to accomplish more advanced stunts with confidence.

Jump Kicks Drill

Jump kicks, also known as the herkie jump, is a highly popular jump in cheerleading, and this drill focuses on teaching the proper technique for performing the jump. It targets participants coordination, core balance, and leg strength as the jump requires a combination of physical ability and coordination.

Rebound Jumps Drill

Rebound jump drills are used primarily to improve the coordination of cheerleaders while executing jumps. In this drill, cheerleaders are trained to perform jumps in rhythm using a rebounding movement that helps maintain mobility and flexibility.

Rotating Points Drill

The rotating points drill is used to train cheerleaders with better coordination, balance and control over their body movements. Participants balance in different positions, switch positions, while rotating their bodies, giving them a combination of different coordinated movements.

Olympic Cheerleading

Cheerleading has increased in popularity in recent years and has become more mainstream, with cheerleading leagues and competitions being held on national and international levels.

Provisional Status in the International Olympic Committee

Cheerleading has obtained provisional sport status by the International Olympic Committee, making it a recognized sport. The sport is gaining recognition from the Olympic fraternity, and the status allows Cheerleading to be included in the Olympic program.

Cheerleading is a highly competitive sport that requires strength, agility, and balance. Given its increasing popularity, it is a suitable candidate for the Olympic program.

Petitioning for Full Inclusion in the Olympic Games

After obtaining provisional sport status, Cheerleading associations and federations around the world are petitioning for full inclusion in the Olympic games

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