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Jumping Into Cheerleading: A Beginner's Guide To Success

June 30th, 2023 | 6 min. read

Jumping Into Cheerleading: A Beginner's Guide To Success
Skylar Belton

Skylar Belton

Licensed Physical Therapist, PT, DPT // EW Motion Therapy Liberty Park

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Cheerleading is a vibrant and dynamic sport that combines athleticism, teamwork, and spirit. Whether you're captivated by the exhilarating flips and stunts or the crowd’s infectious energy, getting started in cheerleading is an exciting journey. But it can feel overwhelming to choose the right program for your goals and prepare yourself to take on such a demanding sport. We love working with our cheerleaders at EW Motion Therapy to help their bodies hold up to the demands of their skills so they can continue to progress. While you may decide that our services do not fit your needs, you can still read on as we aim to guide you in selecting the right cheer program and preparing yourself physically and mentally. 


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Choosing the right cheer program

Begin by researching different cheer programs in your area. Look for established programs with experienced coaches and positive reputations. As you research facilities, think about your goals. Clarify your objectives for joining cheerleading. Are you interested in competitive cheer or cheering for a specific team? Understanding your goals will help you find a program that aligns with your aspirations. Then you can visit the programs you consider to observe the coaching style, team dynamics, and facilities. Speak to the coaches and current team members to gain insights into their experiences.


When choosing a cheerleading facility, there are several important factors to consider. Here are some key things to look for:


  1. Safety measures: Safety should be your top priority when selecting a cheerleading facility. Ensure that the facility adheres to proper safety protocols, including having certified coaches with relevant qualifications and certifications. The facility should also have appropriate safety equipment, such as crash mats, spotting belts, and adequately maintained cheerleading mats.
  2. Experienced and qualified coaches: The expertise and guidance of professional coaches play a vital role in your cheerleading journey. Look for facilities with knowledgeable and certified coaches with a strong background in cheerleading. Experienced coaches can provide proper technique instruction, help prevent injuries, and effectively guide you through skill progressions.
  3. Facilities and equipment: Evaluate the facilities and equipment available at the cheerleading facility. The facility should have a spacious, well-equipped practice area with a clean and safe environment. Look for amenities such as designated cheerleading floors, mirrors for technique evaluation, and appropriate equipment for stunting, tumbling, and jumps.
  4. Program structure and opportunities: Consider the layout and offerings of the cheerleading program. Assess whether the facility provides recreational and competitive cheerleading options based on your goals and interests. Additionally, inquire about the frequency and duration of practices, competition schedules, and any additional training or performance opportunities.
  5. Reputation and success: Research the facility's reputation and track record. Look for facilities with a history of producing successful cheerleading teams, individual achievements, and positive testimonials from current or former participants. This information can give you an idea of the quality of coaching, the facility's commitment to excellence, and the overall satisfaction of athletes and their families.
  6. Cost and accessibility: Evaluate the cost of the cheerleading program and determine if it fits within your budget. Consider additional expenses like uniforms, competition fees, and travel costs. Additionally, assess the facility's location and accessibility in terms of proximity to your home or school. Easy access to the facility can make it more convenient for regular practices and events.
  7. Culture and atmosphere: Visit the facility or attend a practice session to get a sense of the facility's culture and atmosphere. Look for a supportive and positive environment where athletes are encouraged to grow, learn, and excel. A welcoming and inclusive atmosphere can significantly enhance your cheerleading experience.


By considering these important factors when choosing a cheerleading facility, you can find a program that prioritizes safety, provides quality coaching, and offers a positive environment for your cheerleading journey.


Physical preparation 


  1. Fitness: Cheerleading demands physical fitness and endurance. Regular cardiovascular exercises, such as running or swimming, can build stamina. Strengthen your core, legs, and arms through targeted exercises like planks, squats, and push-ups.
  2. Flexibility: Flexibility is crucial in cheerleading. Dedicate time to stretching exercises focusing on your entire body, practicing safe stretching, and not pushing into pain and excess pressure.
  3. Tumbling and stunting: If you're interested in tumbling and stunting, consider enrolling in gymnastics or acrobatics classes to learn foundational skills. Proper technique and progressions are vital to ensure your safety and mastery.
  4. Nutrition and hydration: Nutrition and hydration are vital for cheerleaders as they impact performance, energy levels, and recovery. Proper nutrition fuels the body, providing sustained energy and supporting muscle strength and repair. A balanced diet with carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats promotes focus, mental clarity, and injury prevention. Staying hydrated maintains body temperature, prevents dehydration, and supports optimal performance. Prioritize balanced meals and regular hydration, and consult with a professional if needed to optimize nutrition and enhance cheerleading performance.


Mental preparation

A healthy mindset is essential for cheerleaders as it contributes to their overall well-being, performance, and enjoyment of the sport. Here are crucial elements of a healthy perspective for cheerleaders:


  1. Positive self-talk: Cultivate a positive internal dialogue by replacing negative thoughts with encouraging and affirming statements. Focus on your strengths, progress, and potential, fostering self-belief and confidence in your abilities.
  2. Resilience and growth mindset: Embrace challenges and setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning. View failures as stepping stones toward improvement rather than personal shortcomings. Develop resilience by bouncing back from setbacks and maintaining a positive attitude.
  3. Goal setting and motivation: Set clear and achievable goals that align with your cheerleading aspirations. Break them into smaller, manageable steps to stay motivated and track your progress. Celebrate milestones along the way and use them as fuel to keep pushing forward.
  4. Visualization and mental imagery: Utilize visualization techniques to imagine yourself performing routines and executing skills successfully. Visualize the desired outcomes, feel the emotions associated with success, and enhance your mental rehearsal and preparation.
  5. Focus and present moment awareness: Concentrate on the present moment during practices, performances, and competitions. Stay focused on the task, block out distractions, and maintain a heightened level of awareness. Being fully present helps you perform at your best and enhances your enjoyment of the sport.
  6. Stress management: Develop effective stress management techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, or engaging in activities that help you relax and recharge. Managing stress contributes to a clear and focused mindset, reducing anxiety and enhancing overall well-being.
  7. Supportive environment: Surround yourself with a supportive and positive network of coaches, teammates, and friends who uplift and encourage you. Seek guidance from mentors and share your experiences with others who understand the challenges and joys of cheerleading.
  8. Balance and self-care: Maintain a healthy balance between cheerleading and other aspects of your life. Prioritize self-care by getting enough rest, fueling your body with nutritious foods, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Taking care of yourself holistically contributes to a positive mindset.


Remember, a healthy mindset is a continuous practice that requires effort and self-reflection. By cultivating positivity, resilience, and focus, cheerleaders can enhance their performance, enjoyment, and overall well-being in the sport.


How can I prevent injury throughout my career?

Preventing injuries is a top priority for cheerleaders to ensure their safety and longevity in the sport. Here are some basic practices cheerleaders can follow to minimize the risk of injuries. 


First, prioritize proper warm-up and cool-down routines before and after practices and performances to prepare muscles and joints for physical activity and aid recovery. Second, focus on building strength, flexibility, and balance through targeted conditioning exercises and stretching routines. Third, maintain correct form and technique during jumps, stunts, and tumbling to avoid unnecessary strain on the body. Fourth, wear appropriate protective gear, such as supportive shoes, ankle braces, and safety mats, as necessary. Fifth, listen to your body and avoid overexertion or pushing through pain or fatigue, which can lead to injuries. Lastly, ensure proper supervision and guidance from qualified coaches who prioritize safety and provide progressive skill development. By implementing these preventive measures, cheerleaders can minimize the risk of injuries and enjoy a safe and fulfilling cheerleading experience.


Getting started in cheerleading requires careful consideration, physical and mental preparation, and a commitment to teamwork. You can embark on an exhilarating cheerleading journey by choosing the right program and preparing your body and mind. Remember, cheerleading is not just about flashy routines and stunts; it's about fostering lifelong friendships, pushing your limits, and embodying the spirit of teamwork that defines this incredible sport. Our cheer team at EW Motion Therapy considers it a privilege to encourage cheerleaders of any level along this journey. If you’re curious about what physical therapy can do for you, click the button below to download our answers to 20 frequently asked questions.

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