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Cheerleading was officially recognized in the 1970's, but has been a part of the Pop Warner program for several decades. The first ever National Cheerleading competition was held in DeKalb County, GA. Today, 160,000 children are participating in cheerleading and dance around the United States.

Participation in the Pop Warner Spirit Program provides kids an opportunity to perform in an organized, supervised, safety-oriented environment. Pop Warner programs emphasize fun for all and encourage the development of qualities important long after Pop Warner days are gone.

The Spirit Program is growing in numbers each year due to the popularity of the sport. In an effort to keep pace with the many new changes in the cheer & dance industry, there are a few basic rules that are unique to Pop Warner Spirit Squads.


For a cheerleading or dance squad, the difficult road to the national championship is quite similar to that of the football teams’. A spirit squad will showcase their best (2:30) two minute and thirty second routine complete with music and cheering at a league championship level. The top 2 squads advance to regional competition in each small and large category, Novice, Intermediate and Advanced.

At regional competition, a spirit squad will again perform their top (2:30) two-minute and thirty second routine in hopes of winning. The first and second place squads in the region in each small and large category, Novice, Intermediate and Advanced are invited to perform at Disney’s Wide World of Sports™ in hopes of winning a national championship for their local association.

The participants in the Pop Warner program are unique as opposed to those of other programs. While they are taught about the values of competition, they are also maintaining their grades at a satisfactory level in order to attain the ultimate prize of being named a Pop Warner National Champion. We salute all the efforts and accomplishments that our participants put forward!

The 2009 Pop Warner National Cheer & Dance Championships will take place on Monday, December 7th through Friday, December 11th at Disney’s Wide World of Sports™ Complex.



1. Traditional Spirit - Traditional Spirit squads compete during the Pop Warner playing season from August 1st through December 31st.

2. Year-Round Spirit - The year-round season begins January 1st and ends July 31st. A Year-Round squad must compete in one competition from January 1st to July 31st. *Note: Year-Round Cheer Medical and Registration due by February 1st

* Tryouts of any kind within Pop Warner are prohibited.

The ages of all spirit participants in the program shall correspond to the overall ages that the League is permitting for players, unless League rules dictate that the ages of the spirit squad shall correspond to the playing ages of the team with which they are associated.

Courtesy of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association

Safety First! is the latest of a number of safety initiatives that Cheerleading's governing bodies have implemented in past years. The results show, among other things, that cheer's total catastrophic injuries were cut in half from 2005 to 2006*, and that cheerleading's injuries per 100,000 participants is only 2.0, significantly less than the figures for popular women's sports such as gymnastics.

Below are some tips compiled by the NATA that help reduce cheerleader injuries at all levels:

    Proper Conditioning:  Physically prepare and maintain your body’s strength, flexibility, and stamina for stunting and tumbling.   Strengthen your core muscles (abdominal and lower back muscles) along with the upper and lower body and include aerobic (running, jogging, cycling, swimming) and anaerobic (wind sprints, circuit training) activities.

    Exercise Reminders:  Warm up, stretch and cool down for every practice or competition and be sure to rest.

    Proper Equipment:  Practice on mats or padded flooring until your routines are perfected.  Make sure the mats are adequately sized and sufficient for the activities you’re performing.

    Spotting:  Have trained spotters present and engaged at all times.

    Knowledgeable Coaches:  Make sure your coaches are certified in safety, first aid, CPR and AED use.

    No Horseplay:  Focus at all times during stunting and tumbling activities.

    Communication:  Request that your coaches review safety precautions, rules and regulations with the squad on a regular basis, and that they establish and implement an emergency action plan.

    Read Safety Guidelines:  Ask your coaches to be familiar with the latest AACCA safety guidelines; the safety advice in the National Federation of State High School Associations’ “Spirit Rules Book”; and the rules and regulations pertaining to your particular school.

    Know Your Limits:  Be aware of your ability level and do not attempt advanced level gymnastic or stunting skills before mastering less advanced skills.  Always have a supervisor present.

    Treatment of Injuries:  Promptly attend to any injuries you sustain.  Your school or organization’s athletic trainer can assist in the proper treatment and prevention of such injuries.  He or she can also offer an injury prevention education seminar and assist in creating the conditioning routine.