Cheerleading Levels and Ages: What’s the Difference?

Cheerleading Levels and Ages: What’s the Difference?

With tryouts mostly behind us, new and experienced cheer parents alike may be left scratching their heads with their child’s results. “Junior level 1? Is that good?” Today, we at WSA Cheer hope to clarify a few things in regards to your child’s division. Of course, if you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with your child’s coach or the gym director. When it comes to why your child made a certain level, they will be able to give you a more detailed and specific answer.

Age Division

When you hear Tiny, Mini, Youth, Junior, or Senior, these are all simply referring to your child’s age division. Typically, it is that simple. However, USASF officials tend to change the minimum age requirements for the divisions every few years or so, so this can shift over time. Traditionally, here is the breakdown:

  • Tiny: Ages four through six
  • Mini: Ages five through eight
  • Youth: Ages five through 11
  • Junior: Ages five through 14
  • Senior: Ages 11 through 18 (Depending on the level. This minimum age is increasing next year)

As you can see, there is some overlap. In general, this overlap is designed to help gyms of all sizes make the most competitive team possible. Some smaller gyms may have two 13-year-olds try out with a group of nine-year-olds. While these two both qualify to be on a junior or senior team, they do not have enough athletes to make a team. So, the nine-year-olds may join them to make a Junior level team.

This overlap also creates the ability to craft more competitive teams. A young flyer may be put on a senior team because she is easier to lift, especially if she has the maturity to thrive with her peers. It is a GOOD thing to have your child be at the top age requirement of a team, however. This means they will be leaders, and that they will have a chance at succeeding in competition. No matter what, the age division is mostly based on uncontrollable factors, like your daughter’s height and age.

Level

The level is a bit more straightforward. The number indicates what your athlete is legally allowed to perform on the competition floor. Now, this does NOT mean that they are incapable of throwing higher skills, and it also doesn’t mean that they have every skill required for that level. Their level usually indicates the most that both they and their peers can perform together in order to make the strongest possible team. Your child may be throwing level three skills, but until they can do all of their level three skills with a group of athletes who also are in their age group, they may not be on a level three team. Every gym is different when making these decisions, but again, keep in mind — your level does not always indicate your ability. It indicates the overall best abilities of your team.

WSA Cheer

We hope this has clarified some of the confusion around levels and divisions! No matter what team you are on, even if you didn’t make the one you hoped for, we know you are going to have an incredible season filled with growth. We’ll see you in the fall for competition season!

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