Cheerleading is a group of physical routines performed by a team to elicit cheers from audiences in sporting events. Cheerleading evolved into a sport of its own, where competitive events are conducted to decide a winner from a number of participating teams. It originated in the United States, where it is still continues to be predominantly practiced, with some minor presence in a few other countries.
The sport of cheerleading, has two major distinctions based on a team's association, and have separate set of mutually exclusive competitions. The two types are
- School sponsored : Teams are associated with middle school, high school, or college teams, and they represent their respective schools in competitions.
- All-stars : Teams in this category are independent entities formed purely to partake in competitions. Competitions are conducted for six divisions based on age, tiny (3 to 5), mini (6 to 8), youth (9 to 11), junior (12 to14), senior (15 to 18) and open (17 and over).
A cheerleading squad can have 6 to 36 members of one or both genders. During competitions, each team performs a 2 1/2 minute routine, which consists of several moves like tumbling, dancing, and jumping. Routines are judged based on execution, synchronization, difficulty of moves, creativity, and presentation, and are awarded points. Deductions are made for any mistakes made.
Several school sponsored and all-star competitions are conducted every year. The most popular all-star competition is Cheerleading Worlds which is conducted annually.
Cheerleading gained worldwide exposure when the Hollywood movie "Bring it On" was released which featured the intense competitive nature of the sport.
- Rhythmic Gymnastics — uses the elements of ballet, gymnastics, dance, and apparatus manipulation.
- Sport Aerobics — the objective is to perform high-intensity gymnastic moves in sync with background music. Also called Aerobic Gymnastics.
- Pole Dancing — participants perform various types of acrobatic moves like spins, climbs, twists and body inversions around a pole.
- Acrobatic Gymnastics — team of gymnasts work together to perform acrobatic moves in combination with dance moves.
- Aesthetic Group Gymnastics — a team sport where a large group of gymnasts perform coordinated continuous movements.
- Calisthenics — a competitive team sport in which athletes perform elements of rhythmic gymnastics and ballet.