AN IDIOT'S GUIDE TO CHEER ACCESSORIES
Cheerleading has it's own obsession with fashion trends, styles and accessories! We've put together a quick guide for programs and coaches new to cheer to make sure you and your team stand out for all the right reasons!
Poms. Pompoms. Pom Poms. Pom Pons. Even the name is confusing. There's at lot to choose from out there and the price varies dramatically depending on the style and how complex in colouring. Always ensure you purchase good quality show poms with a handle so they last the entire season. The standard size is usually 6 inches but more often elite teams are using 4 inch poms which facilitate movement and reduce the rustling sound when they are in motion. There is so much to choose from: plastic, metallic, vinyl, mixed, baton handles, etc... 6 inch are good size so people can still see your motions, and the handle means you can cartwheel and perform basic stunts when holding them (but please check competition guidelines as this may cause legality deductions in certain divisions).
For mini and junior teams, consider the size of the poms in proportion to the athlete as bigger poms will look MASSIVE when held (cute to watch, but difficult for the athlete).
Choose a colour which compliments the uniform - even one which matches the trim or bow will really stand out. Teams often choose a different colour pom (ie 1 black, 1 yellow) for each hand. At some point through the routine an choreographed exchange may occur so half the team ends up with one full set (ie of black) and the other half ends up with the other full set (ie yellow)
There are no real restrictions when it comes to hair, so long as it doesn't become a distraction for an athlete during the routine. What you choose depends on your team's preference and the type of routine you are competing. Pom teams tend to go for a slick and conservative look with a back-facing bow or unique hairpiece. Varsity teams typically go for a conservative style with a loose or simple bow - All-Star teams go all out crazy!
Trends at the moment for All-Star cheer for you to consider include:
Curls, teased, straight or bun
Big quiff, braided fringe, side part or slick back
Half up, high pony, low pony
Quiff hairpiece, curl inserts, hair extensions, poof inserts (think of these as a Wonderbra/boob job for your hair)
... and any combination of the above
BIG CHEER HAIR is BIG BUSINESS for hair companies who now specialise in hairpieces and pins and sprays to keep that hair high and stuck in place!
A cheerleader with no bow is like a pizza without a topping...enough said! Big, bold and bright are your keywords. You want your All-Star bow to be stiff, resist flopping forward or sideways, be visible from the stands and to look amazing during motion. Shiny, sparkly bows always get you noticed, or you may want to cut the razzle and have a single or tictoc-style colour bow. Either way this is not the time to be conservative, the rest of your uniform might still be quite plain but you can shine bright with your bow.
Most cheer teams by now have a dedicated Mom who started mass-producing bows, or a bow-making business is now never too far away! Just search via Facebook or Instagram and you'll find hundreds of companies and independent bow-makers to suit your needs and budget.
This is an individual choice, but most teams will recommend it as you look quite pale under all those spotlights! If you're going to do it, do it right. It’s always best to test-drive it thoroughly to ensure it's one you've used before so that it doesn't rub off onto your uniforms. Give everyone tips on which brands work best and how to apply it properly so you don’t end up with a bunch of stripy carrot monsters! Exfoliation is vital before application, and if in doubt we would always recommend a gradual tanner rather than the full blown overnight tan. This can be applied like a normal body lotion and over a few days will develop into a nice warm colour that is must easier to control and much less likely to streak. A professional spray-tan business, however pricey will generally be able to guarantee a quality end-product.
MAKEUP OR NO MAKEUP?
Cheerleading is showbiz! Every actor or dancer wears makeup on stage, and so do cheerleaders. This will enable your cheer facials to be noticed from a distance and photos to look great on your next promo poster.
You need a white powder or shimmer for the inner corners of your eyes, a black liner for the rims, and a team colour on the lid. Mascara, naturally - older athletes may also wish to add false eyelashes for added effect. Glitter on eyes and lips is going out of fashion - and the impracticality of GLUEING your eyelids for this to happen is making most teams revert to a smart shimmery eyeshadow option instead. For lips, go for something long lasting because you probably won't have time to reapply between the warm up area and the mat.
Various cheer companies sell performance-ready make up kits in all kinds of colours, and it’s a good plan to buy these make up items in bulk for competitions so that everyone looks freakishly the same. When it comes to children, be responsible and discuss an age-appropriate look which has been approved by all parents. Children have their whole lives ahead to be adults, but you can only be a child for a short while!
Ideally, and definitely if you are planning on including stunting, tumbling and jumps it would be preferable for everyone to have purpose-built cheer trainers. These not only look good on the mat, but they will give you good ankle support for jumping, tumbling, stunting, do not mark the cheer floor and will ensure that they do not injure your stunt group. As a guideline, you want shoes that are:
As white as possible (or black, if you feel like going for the dark look!)
Of sturdy material, leather and mesh typically, but not too heavy in weight
Smooth soles with subtle rubber tread (no spikes or zigzag textured patterns)
Good ankle support