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Gymnastics And Cheerleading [How Are They Different?]

gymnastics vs cheerleading

Gymnastics and cheerleading are the two sports that are heavily dominated by the female folks. To some who are only spectators during cheerleading and gymnastic events, both sports are more or less the same.

However, when we ask professionals about both sports individually, they seem to agree that both sports are significantly different. It is a consensus that gymnasts require more regular and vigorous training than cheerleaders.

Also, to the untrained eye, both sports seem to use fairly the same types of body movements. When you ask the pros in both sports, their responses tell that there are subtle differences in their moves. Let us have a more in-depth look at the differences in both sports.


3 Similarities Between These Two Sports

1) Both sports require strength and flexibility

Cheerleading and gymnastics require an enormous amount of strength. Think of all the energy required to make a lot of high power moves. Lazy girls do abscond after their first few initial practices. The amount of energy and risks these sports require, scare most of them.

Do you remember the phrase, "make them or break them"? There is no better place to use the phrase than when training recruits for these sports. Children have to be naturally flexible to cope with the challenges of these sports.

2) Both sports require lots of practice

Cheerleaders and gymnasts are embodiments of years of practice. It takes an average gymnast a minimum of 9 hours weekly training time to keep form. Imagine how much practice time will be required to improve performance! Generally speaking, gymnasts need more practice time than cheerleaders. However, the fact remains that both sports require a lot of practice.

3) Both sports use similar moves

This is perhaps one of the main reasons many people think cheerleading and gymnastics are similar. Of course, tumbling and stunts are performed during each sport. However, there are many times that the moves differ in both sports.

12 Differences Between Gymnastics Vs. Cheerleading

1) Number and types of events

Cheerleading has only one event, which is the floor. Gymnastics have four events, which include floor, beam, bars, and vault.

2) Competing as a team or as individuals

Cheerleaders usually practice and perform as a team almost all the time. In gymnastics, each gymnast may practice in a group or individually. However, gymnasts perform solo when doing a routine or competing.

3) The value placed on facial expression

Facial expression is a big deal for cheerleaders because they are meant to CHEER. Cheerleaders may lose points during competitions for not putting on the proper facial expressions.

In gymnastics, facial expressions such as a smile are only required when saluting the judges. During the event, the gymnast's look does not count for points as it does in cheerleading.

4) Duration of routine

In cheerleading, each routine is fixed to a two minutes and thirty seconds time frame. In gymnastics, the duration of the event is determined by the level of gymnasts.

Gymnasts on higher levels are generally given longer routine length than their lower-level fellows. The maximum time length for each gymnastic event is fixed at two minutes.

5) Levels to scale to become pro

In cheerleading, one must scale through six levels before attaining the status of a professional.

In gymnastics, you must pass ten levels before you become an 'Elite'. Graduating from the TOPs gymnastics program also put you in this level. Most important to note is that only the elites are eligible to perform at the Olympics.

6) Which sportswear is required?

For cheerleading, a brief, top, and bottom are required. Uniform usually bears rhinestones and team logo. Gymnasts, on the other hand, are required to wear a leotard. A leotard is a piece of clothing that is similar to a swimsuit. It is more expensive than a swimsuit and is mainly used by dancers and gymnasts.

7) Who assists in aerial movements?

The cheerleader relies on her team to keep her in the air during the aerial performance. The gymnast who does a good deal of aerial stunts is always on his or her own. No assistance is required or given to gymnasts during the aerial performance.

8) What are the mats made of?

In cheerleading, the mats are generally made of foam. In gymnastics, the mats (or floor) are made of spring.

9) Differences in jumps

Jumps in cheerleading are less diverse when compared with gymnastics. Arm placements in cheerleading require the fist to either mimic a "T" or a candlestick.

On the other hand, gymnasts do diverse kinds of jumps, which include pike, wolf, tuck, and straddle. Arm placement in gymnastics requires either putting the arms straight up or touching the toes.

10) What dance mean

In cheerleading, dance retains our literal understanding of the word. But in gymnastics, dance is reduced to a series of leaps and turns. Check out the difference of gymnastics vs dance.

11) Use of shoes

Cheerleaders always wear comfortable shoes with good to help during movements. Gymnasts generally go barefooted except in case they decide to use tape to wrap their feet.

12) Type of music

Cheerleaders have more freedom on the kind and mix of sounds that make up their music. Cheerleaders often use popular songs with a lot of sound effects. Gymnastics require relatively slower music instrumental. Here is a list of popular music often used by gymnasts.


As highlighted above, the differences between gymnastics and cheerleading are quite numerous. For people who are trying to switch between the two sports, there will always be some challenges to face initially. It is normal to adjust to challenges after practicing for a while.

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