What does it mean to be a cheerleader? In a word, everything, but it's more fun to list all the great qualities that describe cheerleaders and set them apart from other athletes! Cheerleading has a unique skill set, as we were reminded recently when a heated debate broke out in the comments of an article about pro fighters saying cheerleading was the hardest sport they have ever done. While there is definitely some overlap among all athletes, cheerleaders have to do some things that a lot of other athletes don't.

Being a cheerleader means you are these 18 things:

  1. Focused. While performing a flawless routine is unlikely, making a major mistake can cost you. When you've been putting in long hours at the gym all for those two and a half minutes, you aren't going to let a mistake like that happen. You are poised and focused, and no drops, falls, or flubs are happening on your watch.

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  1. Hard-working. Cheerleading is not easy. Not even close. Anyone who thinks differently just needs to come out and actually watch it. You can't just show up and do those movesa lot of blood, sweat, and tears goes into being able to jump, stunt, tumble, and dance like that.

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  1. Tough. You willingly put yourself in dangerous situations...

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    ...and then act like you weren't just hit/bruised/jabbed/dropped/thrown/flung/elbowed/etc. (Source: giphy.com)


  1. Spirited. You don't just get out there and do your sport. You do it with attitude. You bring the skills AND the spirit.


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  1. Fit. Bodies don't just do the things cheer requires of them without being in peak physical shape.


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  1. Determined. Your goals are more like plans. Failing to meet them is not an option.


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  1. Team-oriented. You take elbows to the ribs, feet to the face, knees to the everything. You let your teammates throw you into the air, trusting them to catch you. You see your flyer coming back down, limbs flailing, knowing one will probably smack you, but you don't hesitate for a second. A safe person would bail. A loyal teammate would catch her no matter what. And that's only inside the gym. You have experienced so many highs and lows together, and at this point you basically speak your own language, communicate full sentences in single glances, and have your own inside jokes.


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  1. Over-achiever. "Sure, we could do a that, or we could make it much more complicated, difficult, and cool!"


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  1. Multi-talented. Juggling school and a sport is hard enough, but you also chose an incredibly demanding sport. You have to master a combination of skills, making you part gymnast, part dancer, and 100 percent cheerleader.


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  1. Proud. As the saying goes, it's hard to be humble when you can jump, stunt, and tumble.


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    Confused and uninformed people might give you a hard time about cheerleading and maybe even claim it's not a sport, but you are proud of what you do and know how big of an accomplishment being a cheerleader is.

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  1. Competitive. Do you like to win? Yes. Does that sometimes carry over into other aspects of your life? Maybe...


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    Seriously though...


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  1. Pressured. Hours of practice, for a 2:30 performance. All eyes on you. Pressure? Just a little...


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  1. Pumped. Did you just drink 32 ounces of straight caffeine? Nope, it's a pre-performance adrenaline rush.


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  1. Grateful. You love what you do, and you appreciate every minute of it because you've had to sit out with an injury before. The only thing harder than cheer practice is having to watch cheer practice.


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  1. Strong. You have long practices, and you're not just standing around between whistles. No, you go hard. Being in shape is one thing, but having the stamina to endure hours of practicing moves that require complete physical and mental exertion is a whole other level of strength.


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  1. Committed. You cheer year round. There is no off season. There isn't even a halftime. Part of you wants just one tiny break, but what would you even do with yourself?


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  1. Controlled. You not only know what the various parts of your body are doing at all times, but you can make them do what you want them to do. That's serious skill.


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  1. All heart. Despite the injuries, the pressure, the endless practices, you are doing what you love and loving what you do. What it comes down to is cheerleading is just more fun than everything else!
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What does being a cheerleader mean to you?