Okay, as a cheerleader, you obviously think cheerleading is one of the hardest group sports out there–and yes, it’s a sport! Maybe you’ve been petitioning for cheerleading to be taken more seriously as a team sport for so long that you’ve forgotten about how other sports bring some value to the table as well. Sure, cheerleading is just as dangerous as football, or hockey, or basketball. And, any naysayer of cheerleading would change his or her mind after witnessing just one cheer routine, with the amount of collaboration it takes from each participant to pull off. Even though cheerleaders do learn invaluable life lessons throughout the seasons, other lessons can be learned from evaluating (or participating in) other sports. Here are two substantial takeaways from the sporting world that every cheerleader should know about:

1. Other sports embrace spontaneity.
For competitive cheerleaders ESPECIALLY, there is little wiggle room when it comes to improvisation. If you find yourself or one of your teammates not hitting a predetermined mark, then you or that person is going to get the full wrath of your coach later since routines are meant to be hammered down prior to taking the mat. It’s unfortunate to mess up (and mistakes do happen), but in other sports, spontaneity is actually a GOOD thing. Take basketball, for example–you never know which team is going to rebound any given shot. Or football: if the ball gets stripped from the other team’s quarterback, a fumble generates an unexpected opportunity for your team to drive toward the end zone and get points on the scoreboard; same goes for when a defensive lineman intercepts a pass. Hockey and soccer are pretty much based around spontaneity, for you never know where the ball or puck is going to go! Cheerleading gets you to point your toes, but other sports definitely keep participants on their toes… and cheerleaders can learn that that is not such a devastating thing.

2. Other sports let all participants shine equally.
Cheerleading is almost a prime definition of a ‘group effort’; you have bases and fliers and tumblers and backspots, all working together in order to pull off an outstanding and awe-inspiring routine. Yet, in other sports, it’s not just a few individuals (like fliers) that get all the attention–it’s everyone! If you’re used to basing in a stunt group, could you imagine if the whole arena was all of a sudden focused on you… and ONLY you?? That’s what it feels when baseball or softball players step up to bat. Or when golfers tee off, or sprinters take their marks. All eyes are on you, and it’s easy for you to get inside your own head with stage fright. Luckily, cheerleading only prompts a few cheerleaders into the limelight, and those are usually the ones that are already (somewhat) comfortable with it. Furthermore, there are several sports in existence that are entirely made up of solo athletes, and the pressure to perform perfectly is exponentially higher when you don’t have a team to fall back on. And, that’s not saying cheerleaders don’t feel pressure–it’s just nicer to have your cheer BFF or stunt group to hug you if things don’t go your way. So, the next time you feel upset from a routine, remember that you at least have your cheer family to rely on.

What other lessons could cheerleaders learn from other sports? Share your thoughts in the comments!