Cheerleading (ˈtʃɪərˌlidɪŋ) is an intense physical activity based upon organized routines, usually ranging anywhere from one to three minutes, which contains many components of tumbling, dance, jumps, cheers and stunting in order to direct spectators of events to cheer for sports teams at games or to participate in cheerleading competitions.
The athlete involved in cheerleading is called a cheerleader. Cheerleading originated in the United States, and remains predominantly American, with an estimated 1.5 million participants in all-star cheerleading.
The presentation of cheerleading as a sport to a global audience was led by the 1997 start of broadcasts of cheerleading competition by ESPN International and the worldwide release of the 2000 film Bring It On.
Most American middle schools, high schools, and colleges have organized cheerleading squads made up solely of students. Several colleges that compete at cheerleading competitions offer cheerleading scholarships. School-sponsored cheerleading promotes school spirit and motivate the players and fans as well as enjoyment for the participants. A cheerleading team may compete outside of sporting events (local, regional, and national competitions), and cheer for sporting events and encourage audience participation. Cheerleading is quickly becoming year-round, starting with tryouts during the spring of the preceding school year, organized camp as a team, practices, attendance at various events and ending with National competition season, typically from winter through spring.
School cheerleaders also compete with recreational-style routines at many competitions year-round. They practice hardly for them and come up with a no greater than 2 minute 30 second routine to show off at the competitions. Like other school-level athletes they compete to win their league title and move on to bigger competitions eventually reaching nationals the ultimate title for a school squad. The advantages to a school squad versus an all-star squad is cheering at various games. For some squads the level of competition on the weekends can equal that of an all-star squad.
The tryout process sometimes takes place over many days. The cheerleading coach usually will arrange for a cheerleading clinic, during which basic materials are taught or reviewed before the final day of tryouts. The clinic gives returning cheerleaders and new cheerleaders an equal chance of becoming familiar with the material. Skills that coaches look for include jumps, tumbling, motions, and dance ability. Tryouts often take place during the spring, so that the coach has the team chosen in time to attend summer camp as a team.