Cheerleading is a group of physical routines performed by a team to elicit cheers from the public at sporting events. Cheerleading became a sport of its own, where competitive events are held to decide a winner among several participating teams. It originated in the United States, where it is still predominantly practiced, with a smaller presence in some other countries.
The sport of cheerleading has two main distinctions based on a team’s association and has a separate set of mutually exclusive competitions. The two types are
School Sponsored: Teams are associated with middle school, high school, or college teams, and represent their respective schools in competition.
All-stars: the teams in this category are independent entities formed exclusively to participate in competitions. Competitions are held for six age divisions, Little (3 to 5), Mini (6 to 8), Junior (9 to 11), Junior (12 to 14), Senior (15 to 18) and open (17 and over) .
A cheerleading squad can have anywhere from 6 to 36 members of one or both genders. During competitions, each team performs a 2 1/2-minute routine, consisting of various movements such as flipping, dancing, and jumping. Routines are judged on execution, timing, movement difficulty, creativity, and presentation, and points are awarded. Deductions are made for any errors made.
Several school-sponsored and all-star competitions are held each year. The most popular all-star competition is Cheerleading Worlds, which is held annually.
Cheerleaders gained worldwide exposure when the Hollywood movie “Bring it On” was released, featuring the intense competitive nature of the sport.