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How to be a cheerleader in the UK?

Competitive cheerleading, or all-star cheerleading, is claimed to be the fastest growing sport in the world, blending gymnastics, acrobatics and dance. Drawing many people from different backgrounds, cheerleading is now offered as an extra-curricular activity in 37% of the UK's schools. This article tells you how and where to find a cheerleading club and how to get started.

How and where to find a cheerleading club

Governing bodies
The best place to start is SportCheer GB, which is the governing body of Cheerleading in the UK. Underneath this, there are three bodies:
- the UK Cheerleading Association,
- the British Cheerleading Association and
- Scotcheer, who operate exclusively in Scotland. Each of these bodies can put you in touch with a local club or, alternatively, get you involved in one of the many cheer camps appropriate to your ability and physical capacity.
If you cannot find a local club, why not start your own?
Cheerleading camps are also available. They sometimes seek to appoint new coaches and you could find others in your area who want to take part. What to expect
It's not all pom-poms and cheerleading moves. Cheerleading stunts are actually much more complex than what you'd see from an NFL cheerleader. Physical requirements
Anybody who has seen a cheer pyramid can attest to the levels of strength, flexibility and coordination required. Many clubs draw people from different ethnic and athletic backgrounds and they do more than shout cheer chants. Team cheering requires a high level of fitness and should not be taken up as a casual hobby. Those involved take it very seriously. National cheer competitions are commonplace and each governing body organises such contests for varying age groups.

What you need to get started

Cheer apparel/cheerleading gear
Cheer uniforms are usually supplied by your club. Cheer clothes for training would include cheer trainers, athletic clothes and, for the girls, a sturdy sports bra. Gentlemen should consider a jock strap a vital part of his attire. All of these can be found in a good sports shop, though you may need to look at eBay.co.uk or a similar site for the cheer trainers. Cheerleading tips
1. Look on Youtube for cheer videos to give you an idea of the moves that are expected of you.
2. It's not all about cheerleading dances. Gymnastics and tumbles are a key part of team cheer.
3. Having the right cheer stuff is important but having the right attitude is more important.
4. Trust your partners. You cannot tumble or lift without confidence and this comes from trust.
5. Have fun, work hard and enjoy yourself.

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