Football is primarily a male-dominated sport, just like cheerleading is a predominately female industry. Although times are changing to be a more equal playing field for both activities, pun intended, football is largely lost on a female audience–just as much as stunting is something most men don’t even know exists. However, to be the best cheerleader you can be, you need to know what you’re cheering for! You don’t have to have played football, know the rules inside and out, or be a die-hard fan of an NFL team, but you at least have to know the basics in order to succeed at your sport. Not knowing football as a cheerleader is like a cook knowing recipes, but not about being in a kitchen. It just doesn’t make sense. Here are three big reasons why it’s important for cheerleaders to be knowledgeable about football.

1. You can choose the right cheer pertaining to the situation.
During basketball season, it’s pretty clear when your team has possession of the ball and when the switch from defense to offense takes place–piece of cake. Changing of possession in football, on the other hand, is a little more complex than that: on fourth down, your team still has possession of the ball, but is usually setting up to punt it away to the other team… unless your team is in the red zone (within 30 yards of the goal line) or within field goal range (approximately 45-50 yards out from the end zone), where your team would then probably attempt to kick a three-pointer. And, that gives opportunity for the defensive team to either block the punt or field goal attempt, or perhaps your team does an offside kick in a tricky attempt to regain possession… Confused? These instances in football games can be really exciting for the audience in the stands, so you better be able to know which cheer is appropriate to get the crowd pumped up for whatever happens.

2. Sideline cheer teams will always coincide with a school’s football team.
Even well into the spring semester, cheer teams still coordinate events and work with football players to generate school spirit during basketball season. The football players of your school travel with you, stand by you in pep rallies, and are peppered throughout your everyday class schedule–it’s best to get to know them as friends. By knowing how their sport works, even on a basic level, your experience working with and cheering for these boys (and girls!) will be all the better. Plus, it shows that you care enough about cheering to learn sports other than your own!

3. You never know where your cheer career will later take you. You
might be lining the sidelines with your school team every Friday night now, but you never know where you’re going to be after graduation. You might realize in your senior year that cheering is something you want to do as a career, either in college or by going pro! There is no way you’re going to land a professional cheerleading gig if you don’t the ins and outs of football or basketball, so you might as well learn early. And, once you reach that level, there will be no stopping you from achieving great things!

What are other reasons why cheerleaders should know about football? What tips do you have for first-time football cheering? Tell us in the comments!