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!