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Performance Characteristics Of A Division Ia Nationally Ranked Intercollegiate Cheerleading Squad

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Title:Performance Characteristics Of A Division Ia Nationally Ranked Intercollegiate Cheerleading Squad
Authors:Davis, Justin B.
Date Issued:Dec 2004
Abstract:Collegiate cheerleading has evolved from leading cheers on the sidelines to being a competitive sport (Gottlieb 1994, Hage 1981, Hutchinson 1997, Lockey 1991). The advent of national cheerleading competitions for both high school and collegiate teams has increased the physical demands of cheerleading (Gottlieb 1994, Hage 1981, Lockey 1991, Thomas et al. 2004). Competitive collegiate cheerleading (CCC) squads perform complex and demanding dance, stunt, and gymnastic routines that consist of carefully choreographed: pyramids, partner stunts, tumbling, throws, catches, lifts, twists, jumps, and dance steps (Bucaro 1995, DeBenedette 1987, Hage 1981, Hutchinson 1997, Thomas et al. 2004). In order to perform their routines properly and safely, the athletes are required to possess a combination of: strength, power, muscular endurance, balance, agility, and flexibility. Several authors have raised concerns regarding the lack of scientific data related to the training and physical conditioning of cheerleaders (DeBenedette 1987, Gottlieb 1994, Hage 1981, Hutchinson 1997, Lockey 1991, Thomas et al. 2004), as well as the paucity of data on cheerleading injuries (DeBenedette 1987, Hage 1981, Hutchinson 1997). Although lower injury rates have been reported for cheerleading than other sports, the injuries tend to be more severe (Axe et al. 1991, Hutchinson 1997). Improper conditioning has been cited as a possible contributor to the problem (Hutchinson 1997). Recently, Thomas et al. (2004) investigated the fitness status of a CCC squad by measuring various physical fitness components such as: muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, body composition, and aerobic fitness. The cheerleaders in this study were found to have a high level of physical fitness and displayed similar body composition, muscular strength and muscular endurance when compared to other collegiate athletes. However, general fitness tests may not provide sufficient information for coaches and athletes in regards to sport specific physical requirements necessary for safe and successful competitive cheerleading. This was the only study found that reported performance characteristics of a CCC squad. Consequently, a need exists to obtain sport specific data on CCC athletes and to collect gender specific strength data due to the different gender role requirements of the sport. For example, a male cheerleader must be able to toss or throw a female cheerleader above eye level and be able to press them over-head; this type of stunt is performed many times in succession during a performance. The movement is facilitated by the female cheerleaders utilizing an explosive jump and a technique known as "flicking, which involves pushing off the male cheerleader's wrists similar to performing dips on parallel bars. Thus, the demands of competitive cheerleading require that an athlete be physically fit, and requires sport specific movements that have yet to be addressed in the scientific literature. These specific demands of cheerleading dictate that cheerleaders develop requisite amounts of strength to perform the required stunts optimally and safely. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to examine and describe selected performance and anthropometric characteristics of a Division IA Nationally ranked cheerleading squad. This CCC had placed in the top ten teams in the nation three out of the last five years (third, fifth, and eight) at the Universal Cheerleading Association (UCA) Nationals. They won the western division seven out of the last nine years, placing second in 1997 and 2003.
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Appears in Collections: M.S. - Kinesiology and Leisure Science

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