Cheerleading is as beneficial to your emotional health as it is to your physical fitness, suggests Pacific West Gymnastics.

What Do You Need in a Cheer Gym?

by Debbie Lechtman

Cheerleading is much more than just a fun workout. According to Pacific West Gymnastics, cheerleading is a great way to improve your self-confidence, coordination, flexibility, social skills, work ethic, strength, fitness and determination, among other things. Cheerleading can also help you overcome your fears regarding your physical skills and performing in front of other people. There are a few pieces of necessary equipment that you will need in order to build an effective cheerleading gym.

1. Mats

According to the cheerleading equipment supplier, 360 Tumbling, basic mats are necessary at any cheerleading gym for safety purposes. The American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators also calls for the use of mats. If a cheer gym lacks this piece of equipment, it's probably not safe to train there, as you could risk an injury. Mats serve another purpose as well: You can use them when you do your flexibility exercises.

2. Safety Mats

Safety mats are different from regular mats, says 360 Tumbling, and they are just as important to a cheer gym. Safety mats are thicker -- four to eight inches -- so they are helpful when learning certain tricks and stunts, such as back handsprings or back tucks. Safety mats can also be manipulated to take on a variety of shapes and forms or they can be connected to other safety mats. This versatility allows for the instruction of numerous skills.

3. Tumbling Aides

Tumbling aides include incline mats, super discs, octagon mats and trapezoid trainers. With these aids, cheerleaders can learn new tumbling tricks with an extra layer of support. For example, incline mats allow cheerleaders to work on back tucks and back handsprings from a higher starting point, enabling the athlete to land upright while preventing injury.

4. Tumbling Tracks

Tumbling tracks are long, rectangular trampolines. Tumbling tracks are helpful when learning new tumbling tricks, as the bounce of the trampoline provides the athlete with extra momentum. According to 360 Tumbling, tumbling tracks also make it easier for the cheerleader to transition to the spring floor. Even better, several cheerleaders can use the tumbling track at the same time, improving the efficiency of the cheer practice.

5. Spring Floor

Spring floors are used in cheerleading competitions, so it's only natural that you should include one in your cheer gym. Spring floors are popular, because they help prevent injuries. Nationwide Children's Hospital says that grass, traditional foam floors and wood floors are more likely to result in cheerleading injuries, because they are not able to absorb impact as well as spring floors.

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