Unlocking Lifelong Success:
The Impact of Cheer

Cheerleading isn’t just a sport – it’s a transformative journey shaping self-confidence, resilience, and the ability to own any stage, no matter what the stakes.

In September 2023, Varsity Spirit conducted a groundbreaking survey, comparing the lifelong outcomes of former cheerleaders to those in non-cheer sports and non-athletes.  The insights, gathered from 454 former cheerleaders, 501 “other athletes”, and 500 “non-athletes” provide a fascinating glimpse into the enduring benefits of cheer.

Survey Highlights

Curated by leading social science researchers, our survey explored four crucial areas – physical wellbeing, self-esteem and perceptions, adaptability and handling adversity, and wellness in the workplace.

Results Snapshot

Why Cheer Matters

Why it Matters

These findings, meticulously curated with widely accepted methods, provide an unbiased and comprehensive view of the lasting positive impact of cheerleading on alumni.

Scroll Down and Explore

Join us on a visual journey below, as we unveil the remarkable results – testaments to the enduring power of cheerleading in shaping lives.

Physical Wellbeing

Investigating the long-term impact of cheerleading on participants physical health and fitness.

Cheerleading alumni show strong self-care habits, as they more frequently:

• Abstain from using tobacco or drugs: 83% of former cheerleaders avoid using tobacco products or other drugs compared to 52% of other athletes and 56% of non-athletes.

60%
of former cheerleaders
52%
of other athletes
56%
of non-athletes

• Seek professional healthcare services: 70% of former cheerleaders get regular physical exams (i.e., a yearly check up, or when they feel sick) compared to 48% of other athletes and 48% of non-athletes.

70%
of former cheerleaders
48%
of other athletes
48%
of non-athletes

• Prioritize rest, sleep hygiene: 65% of former cheerleaders get 6-8 hours of sleep each night compared to 40% of other athletes and 35% of non-athletes.

65%
of former cheerleaders
40%
of other athletes
35%
of non-athletes

Compared to other athletes and non-athletes, former cheerleaders show higher tendancy to:

• Monitor their nutrition: 53% of former cheerleaders eat a balanced diet (fruits, vegetables, low-moderate fat, whole grains) compared to 32% of other athletes and 24% of non-athletes.

53%
of former cheerleaders
32%
of other athletes
24%
of non-athletes

• Engage in exercise: 51% of former cheerleaders engage in physical exercise regularly (e.g., 30 mins at least 5x a week or 10,000 steps a day) compared to 27% of other athletes and 23% of non-athletes.

51%
of former cheerleaders
27%
of other athletes
23%
of non-athletes

• Audiences show similar levels of limiting alcohol, but one-fifth of non-athletes never do so: 60% of former cheerleaders limit their alcohol consumption to 1-2 drinks per week or fewer compared to 56% of other athletes and 58% of non-athletes.

60%
of former cheerleaders
56%
of other athletes
58%
of non-athletes

Self-Esteem and Perceptions:

Examining the lasting effects of cheerleading on individuals' self-esteem and how they perceive themselves.

Former Cheerleaders are more satisfied with themselves, and less likely to feel they’re a failure:

• 95% of former cheerleaders are overall satisfied with themselves compared to 74% of other athletes and 71% of non-athletes.

95%
of former cheerleaders
74%
of other athletes
71%
of non-athletes

• 96% of former cheerleaders disagree that they are inclined to feel that they are a failure compared to 69% of other athletes and 65% of non-athletes.

96%
of former cheerleaders
69%
of other athletes
65%
of non-athletes

Positive self-perceptions among former cheerleaders foster confidence in having good qualities, being equal to others in worth and ability:

• About twice as many former cheerleaders strongly agree they are a person of worth equal to others (66%) than other athletes (35%) and non-athletes (29%).

66%
of former cheerleaders
35%
of other athletes
29%
of non-athletes

• 69% of former cheerleaders feel that they have a number of good qualities compared to 44% of other athletes and 33% of non-athletes.

69%
of former cheerleaders
44%
of other athletes
33%
of non-athletes

With greater confidence, former cheerleaderes are also more prideful and resilient against self-criticism or doubt:

• 65% of former cheerleaders strongly disagree that they do not have much to be proud of compared to 28% of other athletes and 27% of non-athletes.

65%
of former cheerleaders
28%
of other athletes
27%
of non-athletes

• 47% of former cheerleaders strongly disagree that at times they think they are no good at all compared to 28% of other athletes and 28% of non-athletes.

47%
of former cheerleaders
28%
of other athletes
28%
of non-athletes

Adaptability and Handling Adversity:

Delving into the survey respondents' ability to adapt and navigate challenges over time, and exploring the resilience and coping mechanisms developed through cheer.

Former cheerleaders are more confident in their ability to handle adversity:

• 76% of former cheerleaders are resilient and can bounce back after a disappointment or problem compared to 52% of other athletes and 43% of non-athletes.

76%
of former cheerleaders
52%
of other athletes
43%
of non-athletes

Former cheerleaders more frequently practice constructive problem-solving behaviors:

• 60% of former cheerleaders attest that when they are angry, they try to let others know in non-confrontational or non-hurtful ways compared to 39% of other athletes and 34% of non-athletes.

60%
of former cheerleaders
39%
of other athletes
34%
of non-athletes

• 58% of former cheerleaders find it easy to express their emotions in a positive, constructive way compared to 34% of other athletes and 29% of non-athletes.

58%
of former cheerleaders
34%
of other athletes
29%
of non-athletes

Nearly 3 in 4 former cheerleaders can often adapt to change, compared to under half of others:

• 70% of former cheerleaders say that they are flexible and adapt or adjust to change in a positive way compared to 40% of other athletes and 38% of non-athletes.

70%
of former cheerleaders
40%
of other athletes
38%
of non-athletes

• 60% of former cheerleaders are more likely to maintain work-life balance compared to 48% of other athletes and 46% of non-athletes.

60%
of former cheerleaders
48%
of other athletes
46%
of non-athletes

Wellness in the Workplace:

Assessing the influence of cheerleading on participants' overall wellness in professional settings, gauging how skills acquired in cheer translate to success in the workplace for former Varsity Spirit cheerleaders.

Employed former cheerleaders show greater confidence in their capabilities and growth potential at work:

• Former cheerleaders show greater confidence not only in their ability to contribute their knowledge and skills at work but also in effectively handling stress related to their work duties – 63% of former cheerleaders usually handle stress vs. 44% other athletes, 43% non-athletes.

63%
of former cheerleaders
44%
of other athletes
43%
of non-athletes

• 82% of former cheerleaders believe that they are able to contribute their knowledge, skills, and talents at work compared to 52% of other athletes and 55% of non-athletes.

82%
of former cheerleaders
52%
of other athletes
55%
of non-athletes

• 68% of former cheerleaders seek out opportunities to improve their knowledge or skills compared to 49% of other athletes and 36% of non-athletes.

68%
of former cheerleaders
49%
of other athletes
36%
of non-athletes

In addition to greater self-efficacy, employed former cheerleaders more often find personal satisfaction in their work:

• Only one-fifth of employed other athletes (19%) and one-quarter of non-athletes (25%) do not feel satisfied or enriched from their work, compared to only 5% of former cheerleaders who say the same.

5%
of former cheerleaders
19%
of other athletes
25%
of non-athletes

• 58% of former cheerleaders get personal satisfaction and enrichment from work compared to 40% of other athletes and 34% of non-athletes.

58%
of former cheerleaders
40%
of other athletes
34%
of non-athletes

About This Survey

The survey questionnaire utilized academic inventories or scales/surveys, assessing key metrics regarding character strengths, happiness, emotional wellbeing, self-esteem, physical wellbeing, and occupational wellness. The specific questions utilized from these academic scales are closed-ended, relying on the respondent to self-report their level of agreement with, frequency of engagement in, or likeliness to identify with a statement, behavior or belief. A list of the scales used included, Princeton UMatter Wellness Self-Assessment, UPenn Authentic Happiness, and Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale.