Do You Have To Be A Gymnast To Be A Cheerleader? Demystified

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of cheerleading? Cheers and pompoms, right? But do you ever associate gymnastics with cheerleading?

Cheerleaders do possess the skills to perform stunts, but would it be right to compare them to gymnasts? Girls considering becoming a cheerleader are often unsure whether they have to be a gymnast to be one. Let us focus on this essential question that may have come across your mind regarding cheerleading and gymnastics.

Do you have to be a gymnast to be a cheerleader? You do not have to be a gymnast to become a cheerleader. A gymnast can become a cheerleader, but it is not a prerequisite for everyone who wants to become a cheer girl. You can become a brilliant cheerleader, even without being a gymnast. Let’s demystify the doubt in detail in this in-depth article.

Gymnastics vs cheerleading

Cheerleading vs Gymnastics

Even in the world’s best teams, such as the NBA, most cheerleaders are not gymnasts.  In this article, we will discuss the similarities between gymnastic skills and cheerleading stunts. You will also come to know why gymnastics is far different from cheerleading and cannot ever be a necessary qualification for it.

Cheerleading And Gymnastics Similarities

Gymnastics and cheerleading both require the performers to show a great amount of stamina, strength, and flexibility. Both of them need hours and days of insane practice to get the skills perfect.

It is not just about flipping, jumping, tumbling, or splitting. Right from the legs to the fingers and toes, sharpness is what is required from both. There is no ground for any floppy movement or posture. 

Differences Between Cheerleading And Gymnastics

Even though a gymnast and a cheerleader have to jump, flip, twirl or tumble, they are completely different. There is a huge difference in the way they do these things. 

Difference in Basic Concepts

Gymnastics is more about individual performance for scores. However, cheerleading is a sport that accompanies sports events to boost the team’s spirits and excite the crowd. It is meant to cheer, spread positive vibes, excite, enthral, and express joy.

It is also more about cheers, chants, and rhythm. Cheerleading involves energetic dance movements, acrobats, and vocally cheering and in chorus. 

The basic concept of both sports is completely different from each other.  

Difference in Performance

A gymnast has to know basic skills and stunts like performing the vault, leap, handstand, handspring, back handspring, swinging on bars, rope climbing, stunts, etc. Such performances have nothing to do with cheerleading. A cheerleader never has to climb a rope, hang from a bar, or perform a vault.

Cheerleading is a more simplified form of acrobatic skills than professional gymnastics. Some of the stunts performed by even less experienced gymnasts at the basic level are not required or rather illegal in cheerleading.

Cheerleaders do the tumbling, and other stunts like back handsprings during competitions. But gymnasts perform more complicated forms of tumbling and stunts that will take years for a cheerleader to learn.

Strength and Training

Both gymnasts and cheerleaders require immense strength and practice. They go through intense training to make the bodies flexible enough for the stunts and the sharp jumps. Strength, stamina, and insane flexibility make the stunts and movements look amazing. Moreover, stamina and energy are needed to carry on for long hours.

However, if you compare the strength and training pattern of a cheerleader and a gymnast, you can see the massive difference. A gymnast requires far more strength than a cheerleader. Gymnasts train rigorously for hours and follow a strict health routine than cheerleaders.

Learn How To Be A College Cheerleader With No Experience? in this precise article.

Which is Harder to Master, Gymnastics or Cheerleading?

A gymnast requires far more flexibility to do the splits, vaults, and leaps. They also need huge strength in their upper bodies to hang from the ropes and bars and perform the stunts. To achieve that level of strength and flexibility, they need intense training for years. Even their diet and training routine is starkly different from cheerleaders.

Do You Have To Be A Gymnast To Be A Cheerleader

Cheerleading is not even close to the way gymnasts condition their bodies to improve their physical strength.

Switching from Gymnastics to Cheerleading

Yes, being a gymnast definitely helps a lot in cheerleading. If you are a pro in gymnastics, you must have been training hard for years to achieve physical strength. You must also be well versed with the stunts, movements, complicated tumbling, flips, and vaults. 

Is cheerleading harder than gymnastics? No, it is not. Cheerleading does not require such difficult movements at all, and thus, it may seem like a child’s job to a gymnast. 

Most gymnasts who are a part of the cheerleading team find it very easy to perform. They seldom require any extra training or practice for it. 

How To Become A Cheerleader Without Knowing Gymnastics?

But, let us be clear once again that even though being a gymnast makes it easy to become a cheerleader, you can very well be one without knowing anything about gymnastics. 

Most girls take up cheerleading from their teenage while others start quite late in high school or college. Even without any professional gymnastics training, you can become a marvellous cheerleader with proper practice and dedication.

Cheerleaders are masters at acrobatics. Their tumbles, jumps, kicks, mounts, pyramid formations, and dance movements add visual charm to sports events.

You do not require knowing gymnastics, but basic acrobatic skills are necessary for cheerleaders. Therefore, as a cheerleader or a beginner, it is important to learn basic acrobatics to master the skills and movements. It will help you increase your flexibility, sharpen the movements, make your postures smooth, and train you to become a master performer.

Cheerleading skills

What Skills do You Need to Be A Cheerleader?

Here are some of the acrobatic skills a cheerleader must possess to perform in events.


Can you still be a cheerleader if you are not flexible? Flexibility is the key quality needed to be a cheerleader. Improve your flexibility by stretching as much as you can. Improve your splits to perform them as smoothly and sharply as you can. It should be a clear, flawless, and easy split with toes pointed properly. This comes with enough practice and training.


Jumps are an essential part of cheerleading and require quite a lot of practice. It is crucial to know the jump techniques and execute them with finesse. You need to know how to do the toe-touch, hurdler, and pike jump perfectly.

Executing these highly energetic moves needs a good amount of practice and brushing up on the techniques to achieve perfection. 


Handstand is the basic skill for beginners in cheerleading to perform the tougher stunts like tumbling. New cheerleaders need to strengthen their bodies and make themselves flexible to perform a basic handstand. Practicing handstand is essential for all cheerleaders for other stunts and skills.


Tumbling is the most difficult of all the movements performed by cheerleaders. It is one of the most fascinating things to watch in a cheerleading event and adds to the aesthetics. But, tumbling is quite hard to perfect and needs months of practice.

It starts with a handstand before the performer rounds off for a clean tumble on the ground. Beginners find it difficult to perform it and may need some time to catch up. Learning acrobatics will help you to understand the right techniques for a perfect tumble. 


Along with the handstand and tumbling, cheerleaders must also practice the cartwheel. This acrobatic movement is also needed for cheerleading events and competitions at times. It is quite achievable with practice, even if you do not go through intense gymnastic training.

Back Handspring

Along with tumbling, another most difficult stunt of a cheerleader is the back handspring. All cheerleaders don’t need to perform a back handspring. But, experienced and highly proficient cheerleaders often perform this acrobatic move to display challenging skills.

Tumbling requires the cheerleader to do a handstand frontwards and round off in any direction. A back handspring is more difficult because the performer needs to bend the body backward, do a back handstand, and spring back to a standing position.

It’s a very difficult skill that comes with intense practice and training. Though gymnasts perfectly do this skill, a cheerleader with no gymnastic training can deliver with proper coaching.

Learn the techniques, improve your strength, stamina, and flexibility to apply what you learn. With focus and dedication, you can perform a clean and smooth back handspring.

Learn how to be a cheerleader

Final Thoughts

In conclusion to the above-discussed facts, we can say that nobody needs to be a gymnast to become a cheerleader. There is a stark difference between the two forms of sports.

However, it is easier for gymnasts with years of intense physical training to get into the cheerleading team and perform the moves beautifully. You do not need to become one if you are not a gymnast.

Just focus on your stamina and flexibility, and practice the skills required to be a cheerleader rigorously to be the best in the game.

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