Cheerleading is a sport which was a big part of my life for many years – from seven years old until I was seventeen years old. So, of course the title of this blog is written light-heartedly and with complete sarcasm, as this can be a common misconception. However, although it may not be obvious to the outsider, mathematics is a big part of cheerleading, and covers many of the basic principles of mathematics; such as counting, shape, angles, measurement.
Basic knowledge of counting is used in cheerleading of counting up to eight, which must be kept at a steady pace, and in time with music. To confuse things, as you progress into higher levels of cheerleading, the music and pace of routines becomes faster and eight-counts must be counted only using the odd numbers off the number sequence. For example, 1, 3, 5, 7…….1, 3, 5, 7, in comparison to 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Therefore, there must be a knowledge of odd numbers, or counting in two’s. An example of the basic cheer count is demonstrated by the video below (the first 8 seconds of the video should give you the right idea). Another important point of counting in cheerleading is to ensure stunt groups are in groups of five or four. There must be basic knowledge of division, knowing how to divide your team up to create an equal amount of stunt groups.
Shape and angles
Shape and angles are an important aspect of cheerleading, as all the motions used have to be tight, precise and in the correct position. By cheer motions I am referring to the various positions your arms and legs are held to create a shape. Below is an example of some of the motions used in cheerleading, to aid me in my explanations.
As you can see shape and angles play a big part in all of these. For example the motion ‘T’, you have to ensure that both of your arms are at a right angles, and your legs are tight toghether to create the perfect ‘T’ shape. However motions are not the only time that shape and angles come into cheerleading. During stunting, the way the base (person on the bottom of the pyramid) holds their posture, arms and legs is also extremely important. The base’s legs must be shoulder width apart (measurement) and the bases arms must be be held tight in towards their chest and their hands held at a right angle, in order to hold the flyers (person on top of the pyramid) foot. Again below is an example of how bases and flyers must stand and hold their posture whilst stunting – drawing in key aspects of shape also with the flyer holding her hands in position known as ‘High V’.
Moreover on shape and angles, bases must ensure they are standing creating a box shape with their feet, and their feet are facing directly towards one nother – knows as toe-to-toe. Therefore, creating more right angles.
Back to the idea of positioning in stunt groups – stunt groups must ensure they are the correct distance appart so as not to bang in to one another. This is usuually measured by around and arms length or markings are shown on the mats of where to stand. This rule is also important during floor work, cheerleaders must enure they are at least an arms length apart from one another, so as not to collide whilst dancing and cheering. Lastly, during floorwork, position is important to as to create shape. For example, cheerleaders standing around the mat in a square or circle before a tumbling sequence.
Are cheerleaders dumb?
So, there you have your answer, cheerleading is not as easy as people may think and cheerleaders need to have a good concept of mathematical principles in order to carry out their routines, stunting and floor work. Therefore, no, cheerleaders are not dumb, they could in fact be budding mathematicians.
How has the ‘Discovering Mathematics’ module helped?
Through engagement with the ‘Discovering Mathematics’ module I would not have taken the time to reflect on my experiences as a cheerleader, and I may never have known how relateable it is to maths. To further my development in the future, I intend to be more aware of links where mathematics is present in daily life and routines that I may have turned a blind eye to previously.
Here’s a video of a the world champions in cheerleading below – Top Gun.