Before a cheerleading coach can decide on a style and cut of a team uniform, he or she should first consider the fabric. For cheerleading uniforms, teams must make the crucial decision of stretch or double knit. There's a big difference between the two. Take a look at the differences and which one you should choose.

Double knit is a style of fabric that is made with two sets of needles creating a double thickness. Just like it sounds, it provides double the warmth and double the strength. For double knit cheer uniforms, there are generally two common weights -- 10oz and 13oz. A 10oz is lighter in weight and a good option for youth squads, summer season, and teams based in warmer climates. While usually less expensive than 13oz, they are less durable and therefore may need to be replaced more often. This may be a good option for teams that prefer to upgrade their uniforms often or want separate uniforms for fall/winter and spring/summer seasons. The Ion Cheer collection features 10oz uniforms for great price. 13oz double knit is heavier and more durable than 10oz, and is optimal for outdoor performances and squads in colder climates. While more expensive than 10oz, they can last longer. 13oz is a good option for a team that wants to stick with one uniform for the year (or longer).

With double knit uniforms, you can customize with tackle twill or embroidery. Some double knit uniforms feature taping, like this Soffe cheer uniform, which is decorative trim in an accent color or metallic fabric. There are a variety of shell tops, featuring different necklines, like a sweetheart cut or v-neck. Shell tops are sleeveless and, for colder occasions, are worn over matching bodyliners.

Stretch uniforms are typically made of a polyester/stretch fabric that is lightweight and forms to the body. Many companies use a sweat-wicking fabric, like Chassé® C-dri®, which keeps the uniform and body dry. Stretch fabrics are thinner than double knit and don't provide as much warmth or durability. Most companies offer stretch uniforms similar to double knit, which feature a standard pattern. Some, like Chassé, also offer sublimated uniforms, which are much more customized and provide a less traditional look, like a flame pattern.

For these reasons, double knit uniforms are ideal (and are typically used) for sideline and Pop Warner cheerleading in the fall and winter seasons. Double knit uniforms don't provide as much stretch, so they're best for the sidelines, as opposed to the competition floor.

Stretch uniforms, on the other hand, are used for competitive and All Star cheerleading since they provide much more stretch and flexibility. While All Star cheer uniforms will incorporate many more details, like cutouts and rhinestone accents, they use stretch uniforms just like school competitive teams. Some stretch uniforms are also available in shorts, instead of a skirt, to really allow for advanced tumbling and a sportier look.

What is your favorite uniform style? What does your team wear?