After more than 15 years teaching, working and choreographing dance I have turned my hand to writing to share why I believe that cheerleading is the best sport that parents can get their child involved in.
At 17 I moved from regional Queensland to the heart of Melbourne to pursue my dream of being a professional dancer. After 2 year of full time dancing I moved again to Sydney to continue my training. I had been dancing my whole life and for me it was all I knew and all I wanted to do. After 3 more years dancing and working I was tired, burnt out and decided it was time to come home. That’s where I found cheerleading!
My flirtation with cheerleading happened completely by accident. I had cheered during high school but this was cheerleading at a whole new level. It was exciting, athletic and amazing to watch. I had never seen the sort of athleticism exhibited as people were going up and down in the air as if by magic. I had been asked to do some choreography for a girl group and the rehearsal space was also used for cheerleading. Soon I was learning everything I could about competitive cheerleading and a short time later, I got my qualifications and I was teaching my own squad.
Dancing has always been what I love, it is in my blood. But the more I looked at the dance community compared to the cheer community the more I saw glaring differences. Reality television shows like “Dance Moms” were glorifying the notion that doing whatever it takes to win, even if it’s is hurtful, underhanded and mean, is ok and that you have to beat everyone because if you don’t you’re a failure. In light of this negativity it’s amazing that there is a sport like cheerleading that focuses on team work and positivity. The core of cheerleading is about building kids up and teaching them to work with others which in turn makes them better people.
Parents are spoilt with choice when it comes to their children’s sports participation. With so many options for kids to participate in nowadays with sport, dancing, gymnastic, music, drama, athletics, swimming and many others option, what make cheerleading one of the top options? Why has it become one of the fastest growing sports in Australia?
And why should parents seriously consider this sport above all others for their child?
Here are ten life lessons your child can learn from cheer:
Cheerleading is all about trust! Kids learn the responsibility of trust, what it means to lose it and what it takes to win it back. The flyers have to trust their bases to keep them in the air and to catch them when they fall. The bases have to trust that their flyers stay tight and light in the air and execute their skills with precision. And they all have to trust their head spot to lead the stunt group and literally have their backs when something goes wrong. If there is no trust in each other the stunts DO NOT work!
Competition cheerleading, like any other elite sport, is a major time commitment. Kids have to learn how to juggle not only cheer but also school, family commitments, friends and all the other things life throws at them. The difference between competitive cheerleading and other team sports is that every single squad member plays a vital role to the success or failure of the team. If kids don’t learn good time management skills, it can affect not only their team mates but also their cheerleading experience.
Cheerleading is 80% mental and 20% physical. Cheerleaders need to be able dance, tumble, jump and stunt multiple times in 2:30 minutes and its tough! Kids need to have a great attitude and work ethic to get through an All Star cheerleading season. It is the difference between “Oh my god! Why do we have to do it again” to “Let’s do it again till we get it right!”. Mental strength is not only important for cheerleading but for life in general because it teaches kids how to get back up after they fall.
In this “me, me, me” world, cheerleading teaches kids to take a step back and make decisions that benefit the team as a whole, not just themselves. A flyer who has grown a foot over the holidays is now one of the tallest members on the squad, has to move to be a base or head spot. A main base who is struggling to get a stunt up has to swap with another squad member to ensure the stunts hit. A stunt group who is still can’t get a stunt sequence to hit a week before competition it forces every stunt group to be watered down to make sure the routine hits clean. These change can be hard to swallow at times but they teach kids the important life lesson that it is about what will benefit the entire team and that ego when it is detrimental helps no one!
Cheerleaders spend so much time together between training, competing, fundraising and display performance’s that they can’t help but become friends. Add to this the trust that is needed between athletes to execute all the skills that are needed for cheerleading and lifelong friendships are built. Cheerleaders end up being more like brothers and sister than friends. With all them fights and disagreements that any siblings have but also with the love and fierce protection that comes with it.
As a squad, kids share blood, sweat and tears. Cheerleading teaches kids to work as one focused unit. It helps them learn how to handle the inevitable disappointments. If one person fails the whole team fails but if one person succeeds the whole team succeeds. It takes the hard work and mateship that is synonymous with football teams and replaces the dirt and mud with rhinestones, hairspray and bows. Cheerleaders work just as hard as a football team and they look good while they are doing it!
A Strong Work Ethic
Building a great work ethic is such an important skill that all kids need to learn. Cheerleading teaches kids to approach all things in life with a positive attitude and a determination to do everything to the best of their ability no matter what the situation. Commitment to the task at hand is what it takes to be not only a great cheerleader but a future productive member of the community.
Being well groomed and presentable is important not only for cheerleading but also in everyday situation. It is not about vanity but taking pride in your appearance. Kids are taught through cheerleading to be proud of their uniform, their colours and their club. If these skill can be learned when kids are young they can help them not only in future job interviews but also when they enter into the work force.
Being able to communicate effectively with others is a major component of cheerleading. All squad member need to be able to talk to each other to execute their stunts. While stunt are taught to all groups with the same technique not every stunt group is the same. Some kids are tall, some kids are short and only through talk effectively to one another both when stunt both work and don’t work, can progresses be made. Cheerleading teaches kids these important skills.
The Importance of Being Active
Anything that gets kids active in a positive, fun environment can only benefit everyone involved.