young girls with pom poms in air

Determining the Right Age for Your Child to Start Cheerleading

From the dancing, tumbling, music and stunts, to the camaraderie and friends made along the way, cheerleading can be an amazing experience for any child to be a part of! Cheer provides a fantastic opportunity for a child to engage in a physical, engaging activity in their free time and make noticeable progress towards their goals. It can also give your child the opportunity to meet new people, develop life-long friendships, and have something to look forward to all week long.

With these benefits, you may want to enroll your child in cheer classes as soon as possible but it’s worth considering their age before doing so. When is it too early or too late to kickstart a cheer journey? What advantages does an early head start in cheer bring? We answer these questions and more below, so read on and get the knowledge you need to determine the right age for your child to start cheerleading!

Cheerleading Age Requirements

“So, at what age does cheerleading start?”

Starting ages can vary depending on the type of cheer program you’re enrolling your child into. It’s common to see athletes begin all-star cheer programs at a very young age, while still in elementary school. Whereas school cheer teams typically start in middle school. Starting earlier or later can come with different challenges. 

For instance, the older your child gets, the more competitive and physically demanding the sport gets. Cheer demands more than just memorizing dance moves and cheers. Your child will be expected to perform stunts, coordinate with team members, and much more. But does this mean your child can’t start cheering once they’re over eight? Absolutely not! Some cheerleaders don’t start their journey until high school. If your child has the needed tumbling skills, they can begin their journey as a cheer athlete later in life.

How early is too early?

It can be tempting to get your little one out there and into fun as soon as possible, but it might be best to wait a bit. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), kids should usually wait until they enter elementary school before becoming a part of a team. Starting too early (i.e. before they’re 8 years old) may come with the risk of slower progress, a lack of focus, and higher chances of injury, which no one wants for their cheerleader-to-be. This can vary greatly from child to child though.

Elementary school age also makes it easier for kids to acquire the skills needed for the sport and lowers any risks of injury. Waiting until they are the right age can also benefit the social aspect of cheerleading as well! If a child is not social enough, early enrollment could prevent them from making friends in their class and wanting to continue with the sport long-term.

Benefits Of Kids Starting Early

Physical Benefits

An early head start means your child learns to incorporate coordination, strength, speed, flexibility, and discipline into their craft and lives at a young age. Although cheerleading is fun and exciting, it demands lots of agility and physical strength. There are several cheerleading levels but starting at a younger age will help your child gain the right competitive advantage. 

Beginning early allows them to get their skills right, master tumbling, and boost their physical strength as training becomes more advanced. The physical activity involved can also be a huge benefit to your child’s health! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that about 19.7% of children between the ages of 2-19 years struggle with obesity. A great way to keep obesity (and the diseases associated with it) at bay is to exercise regularly. Since cheerleading is so much fun, your kids will enjoy learning the sport while staying active, energetic, and healthy. 

Social Benefits

Cheer goes far beyond physical movement. It’s about discipline, leadership skills, and teamwork. These are skills that contribute to making cheer athletes future-ready – both in their sport and their day-to-day lives. Cheerleading also helps prepare your child for the real world by helping them master important personality and communication skills. It can help teach your child how to communicate when they feel afraid, reach their limit, or even have suggestions. 

Case by Case Considerations

If you’ve determined that your child is of the age to get into cheerleading, there are a few more factors you may want to consider before rushing out and enrolling them at your neighborhood cheer gym! The following considerations are mostly applicable to younger children but are important for all future cheerleaders out there.

Questions To Ask About Your Child

  • Can they stick to a session from start to end?
  • Are they mature enough to pay attention throughout their activities?
  • Are they comfortable being away from mom and dad or their guardian for a few hours?
  • Is their memory developed enough to remember (and execute) cheer choreography?
  • Will they be able to juggle both school and competitive cheer?
  • Are they physically ready to absorb and execute their cheer moves? 

Cheerleading is hands down one of the most fun and fascinating sports to learn. While children of all ages can become amazing cheer athletes, starting early can give them the competitive edge to master the sport. Now that you know the right ages and considerations for your child to enter the world of cheer, you can enroll them and become their biggest cheerleader from the sidelines!

Want more cheer tips and advice for your soon-to-be cheerleader? Sign up for our newsletter in the top-right section of this page to get the latest Jackrabbit Cheer news and blogs sent straight to your inbox!

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