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Cheerleading’s Not a Sport?
Do you often hear people say “Cheerleading is not a sport”? A lot of times we hear that, and our response is, “Well, yes, cheerleading is definitely a sport.” According to a report just released by the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research (NCCSIR), cheerleading is one of the most dangerous sports girls participate in.
Sports require active participation, physical effort, and levels of completion. Cheerleading meets all of these criteria and is sure to be a healthy, fun, and team-building sport.
Being a sport and listed as a dangerous sport only reinforces the importance for all levels of Cheerleaders to be health conscious and like all other contact and extreme sports you should focus on your cardio, your strength and your flexibility if you want to excel and have a long future in cheerleading.
These are the three areas of fitness that all cheerleaders should focus on during and out of cheering season.
Cardio refers to aerobic exercise, which increases blood flow to the heart. Cheerleading routines are usually only a few minutes long, but time-intensive practices and routines require a lot of stamina. Cheerleaders who tire after 30 minutes can weaken a team or hurt a teammate. Stamina helps cheerleaders perform flawless dancing, stunts, and tumbling. Some suggestions for improving endurance are walking, running, cycling, swimming, or any other exercise done for long periods of time that causes you to sweat and increase your breathing.
Cheerleading uses every muscle in the body. The core or midsection is particularly important. The trunk includes the abdominals, obliques and lower back. A strong core allows a cheerleader to balance and tumble. Tops are able to balance better and bases are able to sustain more easily. Strength is also needed to grope. Throwing your whole body in the air required tons of muscle strength. Some suggestions for improving strength are strength training by doing just a few exercises a day with hand and leg weights. This will increase the muscle strength needed to cheer.
Flexibility refers to the ability to flex or bend one’s body. Obviously, cheerleaders need to be flexible. Lunges, heel stretches, high kicks, backbends and jumps can only be executed well if a cheerleader has the flexibility to do so. Some suggestions for improving flexibility are to perform a set of stretches each day and hold those stretches for 30 seconds.
Cheerleading has come a long way since its first representation in 1898, when Johnny Campbell stood before a crowd at a Minnesota football game and led the first organized group cheer. Today, cheerleaders still scream, but they jump, dance, do stunts, stretch, and do all kinds of gymnastics. All of this requires the use of a cheerleader’s entire body.
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