In a lot of people’s minds, cheerleading is the sport in which a group of high-spirited individuals cheer on a team from the sidelines. And it is this. But it’s also SO much more.
It’s dance, jumps, and tumbling, mixed with chants and a whole lot of smiles. It’s a sport that includes boys, girls, and kids with disabilities. And now that it’s gotten recognition from the International Olympic Committee, it could be in the Olympics by 2028.
Cheerleaders can be on the sidelines at a game, cheering on teams and entertaining fans, they can be on teams that compete in cheerleading tournaments, or they can be backyard cheerleaders learning and practicing moves.
And it’s a sport which your kids just might love. Take them to a local high school game to see cheerleaders in action or show them some cheer videos on YouTube.
Once your child learns the basic motions and jumps, they can put them together with chants and make their own routines. Learning the moves without pom-poms is best, and though pom-poms aren’t necessary at all, once your child is comfortable with the actions, it might just be fun to add them!
(Full disclosure: While researching this piece, I may or may not have put together my own little routine. No video to follow.)
Basic cheer motions
Arm motions are the first actions to learn in cheerleading. Once your kid has mastered these, they can mix them in different combinations to make up their own routines. For each of the motions, hands should be in fists (thumbs outside of clenched fingers) and wrists should be flat.
High V: Have your child keep their arms straight and lift them into a V formation. Their arms should be slightly in front of their body with their palms facing forwards. (Remember that their hands should always be in fists with flat wrists.)
Low V: Just as with the High V, have your child keep their arms straight. For a Low V, arms are in a V formation facing down, with palms facing behind them. (Pretend they’re carrying two bags of groceries).
Right and left diagonals: For this move, have your child raise their right arm into a High V, and their left arm into a Low V. They can then switch the arms up.
T Motion: Think of this movement as having your kids make a letter T with their arms. Have them start with their arms at their sides and then raise them straight up so that they are parallel with the floor. Arms should straight and slightly in front of your child’s body. Fingers of their fists should be facing the floor.
Touchdown: Bring in the excitement of a football score (with a slightly different motion than a referee makes after a touchdown). Have your child lift their arms with tight fists, palms facing each other, and arms right beside their ears.
Punch: No one will get hurt with this jabbing action! Have your child punch one arm straight up in a touchdown motion with the other hand on their hip. (Alternate the hand up and the hand down). Both hands should be in fists.
Jumps are a fun way to move cheers skyward! The following basic jumps all start and end in the same way. It’s what comes in the middle which makes each jump fun.
The basic steps to execute a great jump:
- Have your child start with their feet together and hands firmly by their side.
- Arms are then brought up into a V position.
- From the V position, arms come down with hands crossing slightly into an X position on their thighs and their legs bent.
- From this bent position, your child can push themselves up into a jump.
- Land back down with knees bent and arms at side.
- Stand back up with arms at side.
Three great jumps for beginners:
1. Pencil or straight jump: This is the most basic jump for beginners to start with. For this jump, your child will be jumping from the bent position and swinging their arms into a T position.
2. Star or spread-eagle jump: From the bent position, have your child jump up and extend their arms and legs into an X position (think jumping jack in the air).
3. Tuck jump: From the bent position, your child will extend their arms into a V position while pulling their knees in towards their chest. Knees should be kept together.
Cheerleading is such a fun sport. Once your child masters the basic arm motions and jumps, there are many more to learn. If they’re interested, they can also add cartwheels or other gymnastic moves into their homemade routines. Your child can dream up so many combinations! Creativity. Movement. Smiles. Perfect.