Cheerleaders, in addition to training in stunts and tumbling, learn a variety of techniques for engaging with fans and promoting spirit at a game.
Off the field, they are role models ― some 60% of cheerleaders hold a leadership role at school and one-third of all cheerleaders are members of the student council, according to a report by Varsity.com.
The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) recognizes cheerleaders as being:
- Crowd Leaders: Cheerleaders connect with fans by rallying the team to play better and unifying the crowd. A squad also preserves the school’s traditions and alumni interests with familiar songs, chants, and cheers.
- Spirit Raisers: Cheerleaders share school pride throughout the year through pep rallies, signs, and events. When the home team scores, cheerleaders get the fans on their feet. When morale is low, they keep the energy high in the stands with stunts, pyramids, and formations. If a referee makes a questionable call, the squad stays positive with encouraging cheers and chants. Most of all, they set an example of respect for the game, the players, and the fans supporting the other team.
- School Ambassadors: Off the field, cheerleaders meet school attendance and grade regulations. As representatives of the sports team, they rally to keep the seats full of enthusiastic fans. In a study on school spirit commissioned by Varsity Brands, 75% of students who reported having school pride said they planned to return to their school for special events after graduation. Such positive experiences can convert reluctant students into dedicated fans.
- Athletes: Cheerleaders have to be in top physical shape to perform their stunts and maintain their endurance throughout the game. “It is similar to football,” cheerleading coach Shea Smith said in an article for the Southerner Online. “We have to lift people up, and it requires strength and a certain mentality.”
- Entertainers: Cheerleaders build enthusiasm during pep rallies, pregame build-up, game day activities, timeouts, halftime, and postgame performances. Their stunts, tumbling, pyramids, and chants lead their student fan zone, alumni, and parents to achieve optimum school spirit.