Is cheerleading a sport? Many people would say yes. After all, it involves a variety of movements. For one thing, it usually requires a lot of running and jumping. Not only that, but it combines aspects of gymnastic stunts as well. Given that, it’s easy to see why many people consider it to be an athletic activity.
In fact, cheerleading competitions are a thing. Take the Cheersport Nationals, for instance—it’s the biggest cheerleading competition in the world, with over 850 participating teams!
Benefits of Cheerleading
Believe it or not but cheerleading is a great cardio workout. Each routine might only last a few minutes but it adds up. That is, your stamina and endurance will improve. Not only that, but it serves as a form of strength training as well. This is not too surprising when you think about it—after all, it involves moving the whole body!
Another benefit is that it’ll help you develop your flexibility. This will improve your regular training and prevent injuries. That’s not all—it’ll also improve your coordination. A key element of cheerleading, it’ll allow you to learn and perform routines easier with your teammates. Speaking of which, it’ll teach you leadership skills too, which you can go on to use for other things.
Last but not least, it’ll boost your mood. This is due to an increase in endorphins, the body’s “feel-good” hormones. Not only will you feel better but you’ll be able to perform better as well!
Other Benefits of Being a Cheerleader:
- Jumping and tumbling will strengthen your bones
- It’s a great way to build long-lasting friendships
- It can improve your self-esteem
- It can help you keep a healthy body weight
- Regular routines will help you develop strong muscles
- It can improve your time management skills
What Kind of Gear is Needed for Cheerleading?
First things first, you’ll need the proper outfit. Generally speaking, this consists of a top, a skirt (or shorts), briefs, and socks. Given that you’ll be on your feet a lot, you’ll also need a good pair of shoes—ones that can be worn for a long time. Ideally, you want them to be lightweight with proper arch support. That way, you’ll be able to move with a full range of flexibility!
Is protective gear necessary? Sometimes. After all, cheerleading can involve some potentially dangerous stunts. The last thing that you want to do is to hurt yourself during a routine! For this reason, it’s not uncommon for individuals to use things like athletic tape, bands, and supports.
As far as other gear goes, you’ll probably need some pom-poms, megaphones, and cheer bags.
Keeping Your Cheerleading Equipment Clean
Cheerleading is often done outdoors. What this means is that your gear will likely get dirty, especially with regular use. Take your uniform, for example—it’s likely going to get sweaty after a few routines. After all, it fits tight on the skin. The same thing goes for your shorts and socks.
Other accessories such as bows will need regular cleaning as well. Because let’s face it—it’s probably going to come into contact with the sweat on your head.
If anything, never leave your things in a bag. You want to wash them as soon as possible with detergent, otherwise, they’ll get smelly. At the very least, you want to air out each item so that the moisture won’t be trapped in the fibers.
But wait, what’s the right way to wash cheerleading clothes? Need some guidance? Then you’re in luck because we’ll be going over the exact steps below!
How to Wash Cheerleading Shells (Tops)
Cheerleading tops are often made from materials such as nylon and polyester. In other words, you can wash them like any other activewear. There are certain things that you want to be careful about, though. Keep reading to learn more!
Presoaking Your Cheerleading Shells/Tops
Pre-soaking helps to remove any stains or odors from your uniform. If anything, it’s the first thing that you want to once you’ve taken it off. Start by filling a large bucket or sink with warm (not hot) water. Add a scoop of ACTIVE detergent and dissolve the powder. Next, add a cup of baking soda—that will help with the smell. Make sure that the top is fully submerged and let it soak for at least one hour. Consider leaving it in overnight if it’s heavily soiled.
Putting Your Cheerleading Shells/Tops In the Washing Machine
You can put your cheerleading top in the washing machine once it’s been soaked. For the best results, place them in a mesh bag. That will prevent them from getting damaged during the wash cycle, which is always a possibility. Try not to wash them with cotton items as lint can come off and cling to your top. With that said, it’s fine to wash them with similar fabrics (assuming that you’ve put like-colors together).
Add one scoop of ACTIVE detergent after placing your top into the washer. Feel free to adjust the amount based on how many items you’re washing. Do not use fabric softeners as they’ll cause harm to the fibers. Similarly, you want to stay away from chlorine bleach. You might be tempted to use it for stains, but it can actually damage the material.
Fill the washing machine with cold water and wash it on a gentle cycle. Do not use hot water; the heat can cause the synthetic fibers to warp. Not to mention that it can cause the colors to bleed, which is the last thing that you want with expensive uniforms!
Remove your top from the machine once the cycle is finished. Allow it to dry naturally on a drying rack; hanging it up on a clothesline works as well. Never expose it to direct heat by placing it into the clothes dryer.
Washing Your Cheerleading Shells/Tops By Hand
Hand washing is another option. Start by bringing your tops to the sink. Fill it half-way with cool water and add in a scoop of ACTIVE detergent. Mix until you’ve got a sudsy solution and place the items in. You may want to swirl it a few times so that the fabric is fully immersed in the water. Let it soak for at least 20-30 minutes.
From there, gently massage the fabric with your hands. Pay extra attention to areas where sweat tends to accumulate (e.g. underarms, neck). Once you feel that it’s clean, rinse off the soap by putting it under running water. Continue until the water is clear with no soap bubbles.
Lightly press out some of the water and place the top on a clean towel. It’s important that you do not wring the item as that’ll cause the elastic fibers to stretch, which will ruin the fit. Instead, use the towel to remove the excess moisture. Afterward, hang it up to dry. As mentioned earlier, you never want to put it in the dryer. The high heat will cause it to shrink not to mention that there’s a chance that it can fade the colors.
Note: You can wash cheerleading skirts, skorts, and shorts in a similar fashion
Easy Way to Wash Cheerleading Bows
Cheerleading bows are easy to wash. For one thing, you can just put them in the washing machine along with the rest of your uniform! Just make sure to protect them by placing them in a laundry bag. Otherwise, they can get thrown around, which can damage the bows. There’s also a chance that it’ll snag on your other items, especially if they’re not in a bag!
Another way that you can clean them is by hand washing them in the sink. Fill it with cool water (approx. half full) and add a small amount of ACTIVE detergent. Place the bow in the detergent mixture once the powder is fully dissolved and let it soak for 20-30 minutes. That should be enough to remove all the sweat, dirt, and oils from the bow fabric.
From there, you just have to rinse it clean with water. You can do this by placing it under the tap. Once it’s free from detergent, let it air dry. Similar to the tops and bottoms, it’s best if you don’t put them in the dryer.
How to Clean Cheerleading Shoes
Cheerleading shoes can easily get soiled given all the running and jumping that’s involved with the sport. Fortunately, there are easy ways that you can clean them.
Hand Washing Them With Detergent
The first step is to create a soapy solution. To do this, add a bit of ACTIVE detergent to a bowl of warm water. Mix until the powder is thoroughly dissolved. Wet an old toothbrush with the solution and rub the outside of the shoe in a circular motion. Work slowly, one section at a time. When you’re finished, wipe the area clean with a damp cloth. Make sure that there’s no residue left on the uppers. Continue until it’s clean and repeat with the other shoe. When you’re finished, allow them to air dry. You can stuff the inside with paper towels or newspaper to hasten the process.
Note: The shoelaces and insoles should be washed separately from the shoe. That is, you want to take them off/out before you start. Soak them in the same soapy solution and rinse clean afterward. That way, they’ll be much cleaner than if you left them on the shoe.
Can You Put Cheerleading Shoes in the Washing Machine?
Ideally, you want to wash your shoes by hand. However, it is possible to put them in the washer—you just want to take a few extra precautions. For one thing, you’ll want to use a laundry bag. That will keep the shoes together and prevent them from being thrown against the inside of your machine. Another thing—do not wash them with other clothes; instead, add a few towels to balance out the load. Use cold water and wash on a gentle setting. When finished, allow the shoes to air dry fully before wearing them again.
Note: Don’t forget to remove the shoelaces and insoles before putting the shoes in the washing machine. You can either soak and wash them in the soak or place them together with the shoe in a separate wash bag. That will prevent them from getting tangled.