All Star gyms have specific requirements for each level the cheerleaders can be on.
Most gyms have at least a few teams to start off, each a different level. These levels can range in age from girls and guys six and younger to 18 years old.
Level one includes the most variety in age ranges. The cheer divisions are tiny (six and younger), mini (eight and younger), youth (11 and younger), junior (14 and younger), and senior (10-18 years old). It can have males and females and anywhere from five to 32 members. Level one is usually where someone sees the cutest little girls running around on the mat.
Level two excludes the tiny division, but everything else is the same besides the skill level. Level two stunts can go up to shoulder level and tumbling can include back handsprings.
Level three has youth, junior, senior, and senior co-ed. Senior includes no guys and senior co-ed includes one or more guys. Stunts can go above the head and they can do back tucks and other variations of tumbling including that.
Level four has an open category for anyone above the age of 17. This level has harder variations of stunts and tumbling.
Level five has some big differences from the other levels. All divisions besides senior co-ed small and medium can have up to 36 members on a team. Junior has a co-ed division and all senior divisions are ages 12-18. Senior co-ed divisions are broken up into small, medium and large. Senior small co-ed has one to four guys and five to 20 members in all. Senior medium co-ed has one to eight guys and five to 30 members. Senior large co-ed one to 18 guys and five to 36 members. They can throw fulls and crazy stunts to the hardest degree allowed in the rules.
Nationals are something every competitive cheerleader looks forward to throughout the cheer season.
To get to nationals teams have to participate in competitions that will give them a chance to get bids. A bid is an invite to compete at whichever nationals competition the team wants to go to. Bids can vary on whether the team gets an all expenses paid trip to just a ticket into the competition, but the team has to pay for everything.
Some of the top national competitions are:
UCA College National Championships
UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship
And the international championships
Competition cheerleading is separated into two categories: school and All Star.
What’s the difference? A number of things, including what can go in the routine and how the cheerleaders look.
The biggest differences is that high school and college cheerleaders can have any skill in their routine as long as it is not against the rules, where on All Star there are multiple levels and the cheerleaders can’t go beyond the skills that are in their level. Some high schools will have two girls throwing fulls while the rest of the team has a back handspring. As much as their team has the ability to do, can go on the mat. For an All-Star team there are certain skills that are allowed to be put in the routine and the better the cheerleader, the higher level team they will be on.
High School Team
All Star Team
A smaller distinction between the routines is that almost all high school routines have a cheer where they stop the music and all shout in unison. All Star teams sometimes have a cheer, but it is not emphasized as much and the music goes right through it. Occasionally the words of the cheer, if the team has one, will be in the music.
There is a large contrast between how the cheerleaders present themselves. Often times if someone goes to an All Star competition they will see a sea of red lipstick and glitter. Even for younger girls there is a full face of makeup, they are there to put on a show. On the other hand, a high school team may not have more than some foundation and a little mascara. College could go either way. It definitely depends on the coach no matter what kind of team the cheerleader is on.
The uniforms can differ as well. High schools go with the more modest route, mostly mid-thigh skirts and long sleeved tops, although it depends on the school. All Star teams have more variety; some teams wear skirts and some wear spandex shorts, some have full length tops while others have crop tops. Since All Star is privately run and not through a school they may have more leeway.
Competition cheerleading is a much more intense form of physical activity than what it used to be and it has evolved into something no one ever expected.
When many people think of cheerleading they think of the girls on the sidelines of football games waving around pom poms and dancing. This comes from the original use of cheerleading that started in the late 1800s.
Colleges had the first cheerleaders at football games and had only male participants doing the cheers while fans shouted it back from the stands. In 1923 women were also allowed to join at the University of Minnesota and other schools very slowly followed behind.
It was only at schools, anywhere from grade school to college, until the ‘50s when there was the first professional cheer team for an NFL team. The earliest cheerleading competitions started in the late ‘60s. Then in 1978 a competitive cheer event was on TV for the first time, called the Collegiate Cheerleading Championships.
That brings things to where competitive cheerleading is at today. The basics of cheer are no longer rooting for their team and getting the fans riled up. If someone goes to a competition, they will see intense routines with a mix of gymnastics, dance, and things from the original form of cheerleading. Some examples are stunting, tumbling, and jumps. They may see actual cheers being done if they are at a high school or college competition. Competitive cheerleading requires hours of practice in hopes to go to national competitions and place.