What is Competitive Cheerleading?
We get this question a lot! Here are some
what is All Star Cheerleading?
All Star cheerleading is a competition sport that involves boys and girls performing a 2 minute and 30 second routine (Prep team routines are shorter) composed of tumbling, stunting, pyramids, dance, and cheer segments. This routine is performed and scored against other competitive teams at various local, regional, national, and worldwide competitions. When we refer to tumbling, we mean gymnastic type skills like cartwheels and back handsprings. Stunting refers to a group of two or more individuals that elevate another cheerleader in the air. This also includes co-ed stunting that may only include one base and one flyer. Pyramids are a form of stunting but are done as a large group and are interconnected. Dance is a portion of a routine that consists of choreographed high energy dance moves.
What is the difference between recreational Cheering and All Star Cheering?
The main difference between High School/Rec cheering and All Star cheering is that a High School /Rec cheerleading team’s primary purpose is to support a local school’s sports team and keep the crowd excited. An All Star team performs purely for the challenge, thrill, and competition of the sport. Other differences include All Star cheerleading seasons can be as much as a year long, All Star cheerleaders are not required to be from the same school or area, and in many cases the skill set required for All Stars is much more difficult.
What does it take to be an All Star Cheerleader?
To be an All Star Cheerleader, dedication to the sport, a commitment to hours of practice each week, and being a team player are all fundamentals of cheering for an All Star team. Members are not chosen based on popularity, attractiveness, or familial status but on the skill they can offer the team. Team members are athletes in every sense of the word and work hard to dispel any biased assumptions of what a cheerleader should be.
Parents and cheerleaders should be aware that cheering All Star is a large time commitment. The season begin with tryouts/evaluations in the spring with light to heavy practices in the summer followed by a competition season running from fall to the spring of the following year. Practices can be 2-3 hours long and as often as 2- 3 times a week. These practices are mandatory since many elements of a routine cannot be done without everyone there. In addition, we encourage tumbling sessions or other private sessions to improve skills. Most teams will attend 7-8 competitions a season, which usually consist of a total weekend commitment if not more.
Lastly, every All Star cheerleader should be aware that this is a team sport. Decisions are made based on what is best for the team and the performance. There may be times when a parent or athlete may question a coach’s decision. Before discussing these issues with any gym staff, you should always ask yourself whether this decision was better for the team even though your child may not be in the position they had hoped. There will always be ups and downs in an All Star cheerleader’s career, but rarely are these decisions made with any bias.
What are the age requirements, divisions and levels?
There are many different combinations of age groups, divisions, and levels. So many sometimes that they can be quite confusing! These were all created to insure that like ages were competing with like skill sets. Levels were designed to make sure that each team competes and is judged by how well they demonstrate a standard set of skills expected for every team competing at that same level. The levels range from 1-6 in All Star cheerleading with level 6 being the highest and most difficult. Remember that levels based on skill and age. In addition, you may find your child has been placed in a level that is above or below what you expected. Coaches make these type decisions based on many different criteria. Divisions also determine which group a team will compete. These are based on the age of the cheerleader as of August 31st, however other divisions have been included that incorporate the number of male cheerleaders allowed on each team. These age ranges are very strict and must be adhered to by each gym. To see a list of USASF divisions please go to www.usasf.net.
What are the costs involved in All Star Cheering?
Costs for All Star cheerleading can be quite high, but can be managed with some planning. There are two different areas of cost for All Star cheerleading. One is the money you pay directly to the gym. This includes monthly tuition, competition fees, uniforms, make up, shoes, and apparel. PA Starz works very hard to give many fundraising options to help with these costs. Secondly, there is the cost of travel to competitions. This can include gas/mileage or airfare, car rentals, hotel rooms, food during the event, and any extra money needed for souvenirs.
What about competitions?
Competitions are where each team performs their routine against other like competitors. These events can be local, regional, national, and worldwide. In addition, some competitions can hold more prestige in winning than others. We compete in PA, and in the surrounding states. Often this is determined by the amount of competition in our area and the level of our teams. The competitions can be 1 or 2 day events. Typically 1 day events are local and regional competitions, while nationals are 2-day events. However there are many exceptions to this rule.
There are hundreds of cheerleading companies across the nation. Likewise each of these companies usually offers state or national championship competitions. Sometimes the same company may even offer multiple “national” events. It is important to realize that an All Star gym can claim many national championships in just one season by attending multiple national events. There is not currently a system in place that crowns 1 state champion or 1 national champion. It is also important to know that different competitions are scored differently. While all require the elements of tumbling, stunting, pyramid, and dance within each applicable level, some may score certain skills with more weight than others. There is currently not a standard score sheet that is used industry wide for competitions.
How long is the season and where do we mostly compete?
The PA Starz full year season starts in July and runs till the following May. Most gyms will start with local competitions, then attend regional or state competitions, and then save national competitions towards the end of the season. We attend between 7 and 8 competitions a season. Our Prep teams/Half Year teams will attend less events. Competitions are chosen based on cost of travel, timing, company affiliations, availability of teams in each division, and bid potential. We will give you a schedule of competitions around the beginning of September. It is best to go ahead and begin looking into reservations at that time. Work with an experienced cheer parent or the gym to guide you through this process.