Term of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Name

Master of Science in Kinesiology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Health Sciences and Kinesiology

Committee Chair

Jessica Mutchler

Committee Member 1

Barry Munkasy

Committee Member 2

Sam Wilson


INTRODUCTION: Competitive collegiate cheerleading requires participants to be conditioned for explosive powerful movements. Studies have shown cheerleading is associated with a high incidence of catastrophic injury (Mueller, 2009; Boden, 2005; Xu et al., 2021). In response to high injury rates, studies have recommended strength and conditioning requirements to decrease the likelihood of injury due to the lack of cheer-specific training (Jacobson et al., 2004). Although it has been recommended for cheerleaders to receive formal strength training, many schools do not provide these resources to their cheerleading teams. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine if there are differences in training specificity within collegiate cheerleaders that lack a formal strength and conditioning program, and to see if those differences in training specificity impact performance on common functional tests measuring balance, strength, muscular endurance, power, agility, and aerobic fitness. METHODS: Participants included 31 collegiate cheerleaders, 7 male and 24 female, between the ages of 18 and 22. All participants completed a training specificity questionnaire and functional testing. The sample was allocated to Anaerobic-focused group (n=16) or Mixed group (n=15) based on their reported training specificity. Multiple independent sample t-tests were used to determine if significant differences existed between groups. RESULTS: The Anaerobic group performed better on the 3-repetition maximum back squat (3RM) and standing broad jump compared to the Mixed group (3RM: Anaerobic: 135.69 ± 31.69, Mixed: 116.33 ± 14.21, p = 0.038, d = 0.84; SBJ: Anaerobic: 203.36 ± 24.1, Mixed: 183.39 ± 15.52, p = 0.011, d = 1.01). CONCLUSIONS: Differences in training specificity do exist within a collegiate cheerleading program that lacks formal strength and conditioning resources, and this difference may influence performance on strength and power functional tests such as the 3RM and standing broad jump. Compared to normative data, collegiate cheerleaders may still reach average scores on most functional tests regardless of not having a formal strength and conditioning program, but agility and upper extremity muscular endurance may be lacking. Future research should expand on the need for formal strength and conditioning resources in collegiate cheerleading and expand to other cheerleading populations.

Research Data and Supplementary Material