Studies show that there are more than three million cheerleaders in the United States alone. Out of this number, about one-third, or just over one million, participate in various cheer competitions across the country. The popularity of cheerleading has enticed athletic shoe manufacturers to create shoes that are designed specifically to meet the rigorous demands of cheerleaders, whether on the all-star competition floor or on the sideline.
Cheer shoes must be able to withstand the hundreds of tumbling moves, jumps, kicks, and stunts that athletes perform during team practice and performances, which makes it vital to find a well-fitting cheer shoe that is right for you. Below is a look at some factors to consider when finding the right cheerleading shoes.
Specifically Designed Cheer Shoe
The National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research reported that cheerleading injuries account for nearly 65 percent of all youth sports injuries. Among these injuries, sprained ankles, blisters, and shin splints are the most common. In many cases, these injuries could have been avoided with proper footwear. Because your feet will absorb thousands of pounds of pressure with each jump, stunt, tumble, or dance move, it is necessary to purchase shoes that are made specifically for cheerleading. Many teams require the use of a specific brand and style of shoe. If your team or coach allows you to choose any brand and style, below are some of the key points to keep in mind when comparing shoes:
Fit Is Most Important
Cheerleading shoes that fit properly will help to improve your child’s performance and avoid injuries. Even the most expensive shoe on the market can be inadequate, if improperly fitted. Shoes that are too tight may be painful, while shoes that are too loose can cause blisters and injuries. Aim for shoes that are comfortably tight. All brands of cheerleading shoes vary slightly in size. Regardless of whether shoes are purchased in a store or online, always try on both shoes, with socks, and walk around in the shoes on a hard surface.
Cheerleading shoes should fit snugly around the foot, while providing enough room to wiggle one’s toes. Allow one-quarter to one-half of a thumbnail’s width between the inside end of the shoe and the end of the longest toe. The heel of the shoe can move, but should not slip. If the shoe does not fit perfectly, try another size and if none seem to fit perfectly, consider purchasing gel inserts to adjust the fit.
Comfort is Also Key
While finding a high-quality cheerleading shoe is crucial, it is equally important to select a shoe that is comfortable to wear. After all, it’s mind-blowing when we think about how brutal we can be to our feet when we practice four times a week for hours on end. Just as an ill-fitting shoe is a recipe for injury, so are shoes that are too heavy, lacking additional control and stability, or simply uncomfortable. Look for shoes that offer exceptional arch and ankle support, flexibility, and extra cushioning inside, since this padding provides an additional layer of protection every time you take a step, land a jump, or complete a stunt. Bubble laces help to keep the shoes tied and on your feet while practicing or performing. And, often times, cheerleading shoes can be oriented toward performance levels or recreational cheer versus competitive cheer. Above all, cheer shoes should be lightweight, but lightweight doesn’t necessarily mean “better”, so evaluate all your options and features, and select the shoe that is best for you to ensure that you can perform with ease.
Cheerleading shoes should be replaced every six to eight months. If you are hard on your shoes from intensive practice, you may want to consider two pairs for the season – a practice pair and a competition pair.