Competitive cheerleading is the toughest level of cheerleading, and everyone knows this. The pressure is on, the stunts are difficult, and the season virtually never ends–and you wouldn’t have it any other way! Being an all star is the epitome of living the cheer life, and once you get in that world, you’ll never want to walk away. Most competitive cheerleaders kick it up a notch even further and participate in their school’s sideline team, which is quite a balancing act! It’s not that one team is better than the other, by any means; it’s just different. What’s more is that for the cheerleaders who don’t opt to be donning a school uniform, they end up missing out on some core cheer lessons that can only be learned from a sideline perspective. To all those who are all star-only, here are four lessons that sideline cheering brings to the table.

1. School spirit is infectious and worth pursuing. All cheerleaders, be that of competitive or sideline orientations, have to go to school. Obviously. However, all stars who don’t participate in their school team do not have the same connection to the establishment or their classmates at the end of the day as sideline cheerleaders do. This is because sideline cheerleaders are the face of any school, the main source of school spirit! Being pumped to promote your school’s colors, mascots, and sports teams make your classmates want to join in on the fun, and all star cheerleaders just don’t experience that same kind of peer camaraderie as their sideline counterparts. Don’t think that you won’t have the same kind of bonding experience altogether as an all star–being a part of a competitive cheer team is like having a second family! But, that bond won’t breach over into your school life if you don’t actively try to make lasting connections with your classmates, and sideline cheer is the easiest way to make that happen.

2. Being creative with cheerleading.
As an all star, you may pitch in on the creative process of the routine as a way to help out your coaches or captain. But, as a sideline cheerleader, you have the creative freedom to pick and choose what your next chant is or how you want to jump and tumble. You can even think of your own signature response to when the crowd singles you out during a game–which happens quite a bit! A sideline coach still has control over halftime performances and the cheers in general, but once a game gets underway, sideline cheerleaders can collaborate with each other what to do next to keep their crowd riled!

3. At the end of the day, it’s supposed to be fun.
Sure, you get a kick out of flying high, and flashing facials, and nailing tumbles, but there’s a big difference between performing at competitions and performing at halftime! A sideline cheerleader has to be on point for their routines, but there isn’t any tears shed if every single motion isn’t hit to a ‘T’. With the pressure off and the school spirit high, sideline cheerleaders have fun with chants and cheers–and you never know what the student section or your school mascot is going to do next! Cheerleaders who age out will always be able to look back on lasting memories, whether those are on the sidelines or on the mat, yet sideline cheerleaders will reflect a little differently.

What other lessons can all star cheerleaders learn from sideline cheerleaders? Are you a cheerleader that does both? Share your thoughts in the comments!