In a word: yes! It is never too late to learn how to cheer. You can definitely begin cheerleading as a tween or teen, though it will help to keep the following points in mind as you head to the gym.
1. Be Patient with Yourself: Starting at three or four years old does come with certain physical advantages in terms of flexibility and also in terms of mastering new skills with little self-consciousness. As we age, it becomes more challenging to regain that flexibility, to learn the physical skills involved in tumbling and stunting, and to push through fears of injury or embarrassment. It may take longer than you had anticipated to get comfortable or “good” at cheering, but if you consistently put in the effort and avoid stressing yourself out with comparisons to younger cheerleaders, you will get there—and enjoy yourself much more along the way!
2. Take Care of Your Body: Cheerleading is an incredibly physically demanding sport. If you want to learn cheering, and aren’t currently very active, you might consider “warming up to it” by attending a clinic for new cheerleaders or by taking a private lesson in tumbling, with a coach who can assess your current level of flexibility and recommend specific stretches you can do at home. Activities designed to increase your cardiovascular endurance such as running or cycling are also a great idea. Training your body in these ways will help to prevent injury, as well as increase your endurance and confidence.
3. Remember there are upsides to being an older beginner: The skills you need to succeed in cheerleading, like many other sports, are not entirely physical, but psychological as well. As a teen or a tween, you possess a level of social and emotional maturity that you would not have had as a pre-schooler. Skills you’ve honed in your everyday life---such as knowing when to ask for help, how to support a team-mate, or how to keep smiling when things aren’t going quite as planned---will serve you on the mat as well.
4. It will be worth it: While you may, at times, feel discouraged by the challenges of beginning cheer as a teen or tween, you will also find the benefits of getting involved—such as the friends you’ll make, the joy of mastering new skills, and the thrills of competing or performing---will outweigh those challenges in the end. You can do this!
Wow… As I sit here and think about the last year a few things come to mind: Where did the time go? How did we get so lucky?
So many times this past season I’ve caught my self saying, "I feel like I’m in a dream... is this real?” I don’t really think I felt the impact of our dream coming true until the first team hit the mat at our first competition, East Coast Nationals back in December. In that moment, I looked to my left and right and all you could see was Galaxy Allstars athletes and staff. I lost it. The smiles were gleaming, the crowd was chanting, and the kids were excited to perform. The nerves of having to prove ourselves completely disappeared.
I knew opening my own business was going to be a challenge in an area where there are already so many exceptional choices for all-star cheer. What was going to set us apart? What could we do to show these parents and kids that they could trust us?
Growing up, I agree that the one constant I had in my life was all-star cheer. Once you have a PASSION for something the fire just never goes away. Ultimately, it didn’t matter how hard opening Galaxy Allstars was going to be. My drive for success was there and now I’m not looking back - I knew it was now or never.
Coming to the end of our first season at Galaxy Allstars we have national champion titles, more first place than second, over 60 athletes in our first season but if you ask us... None of that matters. What matters is every one of our families that stood by our side and told us to GO FOR IT. If I could dedicate season one to anything its to the founding members of Galaxy Allstars, the amazing parents and these hard working athletes who put their heart and sole into every practice, every community event, and every competition. Going into season two you may ask us what’s next after such a successful first season. Our answer is simple: Do it again.
There is nothing more than do I want than to impact every kid that walks through our doors. I will continue to be the gym that builds their athletes from the ground up and strives for the individual progress of each kid. I know we are in a position of leadership and now it's our turn to shape the next generation of athletes.
Stay tuned for season two…