Cheerleaders serve many purposes and functions. They are ambassadors in the community. They are competitive athletes winning prizes of their own. They are spirit raisers within the student body. But at their core, their main job is to get fans to cheer at games. A cheerleader has many different ways to get the crowd involved in the game. Stunting, tumbling and jumping are all exciting, but first came just cheering.
You may think cheers are everything a cheerleader shouts, but that is not the case. Within the cheerleading world, cheer refers to a slightly longer, less repetitive cheer. Some cheerleaders refer to these as "floor cheers" as they are typically performed out in front of the crowd at a time out, between quarters or at halftime. Cheers have more motions than claps, typically one motion per word. Frequently, tumbling, stunting and jumping will be incorporated into a cheer. Often a cheer will include signs to encourage the crowd to yell along at certain points, and some squads incorporate poms into their cheers as well.
A chant is much shorter than a cheer. It has fewer words, and it is typically repeated several times. Chants are performed on the sidelines of a game, during the game. Chants have fewer motions and more claps, sometimes only having one motion at the end of the chant. The crowd should chant along with the cheerleaders. Cheerleaders will typically have long lists of chants divided into offense, defense and all purpose. It is a good idea to do chants four times. The first time should be shouting the words only in order to make sure all cheerleaders know a chant is being started.
A special division of chants is crowd-involvement chants. These chants are response chants. The cheerleaders shout out a question or cue, and the crowd responds with their part. Typically, these are performed at a timeout with cheerleaders standing directly in front of the stands. Crowd involvement chants are very much a part of the tradition of each school. The crowd just knows their part because they have been doing this chant "forever." New crowd involvement chants can be introduced, but it is a good idea to use signs when teaching them so the crowd can learn its part.
Routines are the favorite part for most cheerleaders. They are performances that are typically done to all music or a mix of music and cheers or chants. Routines are typically performed at halftime and can be used at competitions as well. Cheerleaders do not typically have a routine for each game. Typically routines are for special occasions, such as homecoming or parent night. Routines involve extensive choreography, transitional stunting, tumbling, jumps and use of signs and poms. Routines are like the main event for cheerleaders, and many hours are put into learning and perfecting them.
Based in Wisconsin farm country, Jami Kastner has been writing professionally since 2009 and has had many articles published online. Kastner uses her experience as a former teacher, coach and fitness instructor as a starting point for her writing. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in secondary education from Trinity International University.