WORLDWIDE –  There is no secret in the fact that COVID-19 has changed cheerleading, possibly forever.  When we return to our gyms (hopefully sooner, rather than later) we will be presented with a massive opportunity, the opportunity to hit reset on every facet of cheerleading for the future.  Over the years, competitive cheerleading slowly slipped down the perilous slope of “keeping up with the Joneses”.  We justified unsensible and unjust spending in an effort to keep up with what was “on trend“.  Our ‘7 Gym Owner Tips for Saving your Cheer Parents Money’ examines who we were prior to COVID-19, and who we are willing to become in a post pandemic world.

Through self reflection and planning we can successfully weather the economic fallout from COVID-19.  However, we must revert back to two core questions in chartering our more conservative paths.

  • Is it essential, can I meet the demands of competitive cheerleading without this exuberant expense?
  • Is the buck (money spent) worth the“boom”?

7 Gym Owner Tips for Saving your Cheer Parents Money


TARGET:  The trend of several seasons has seen competitive cheerleading morph practice wear into bedazzled masterpieces.  While we too love to see athletes exude confidence in the way they look in their aforementioned outfits, are the extravagant lengths considered essential?  Are we able to produce the same high caliber and quality of skills in a more practical apparel set?  REMINDER: The definition of practice: to perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency.


Beginning in the new 2020/2021 season, we have a huge opportunity to reset some of the most expensive costs associated with competitive cheerleading.  Annually, most gyms include not one, but two custom practice wear sets for each athlete every year.  Ask yourself… Do these glamorous outfits provide us with a competitive edge?  Sure, competitive cheerleading is a sport rooted in uniformity and there is a need for a certain matching aesthetic, but at what cost?  Our recommendation is to get creative and challenge your vendors to innovate within fixed price parameters.

Future ideas circulating for next season include:

  • Include (1) Custom Practice Bra or Tank with your fees, and allow athletes to pair it with a self provided black spandex short.
    • Thought Process:  Enables athletes the opportunity to be excited about new apparel, while being mindful of the role that practice wear plays in overall cost for participation in competitive cheer.
  • Allow athletes to provide their own black sports bra and black spandex shorts, eliminating the need to pass inflated cost of a second custom outfit.
    • Thought Process: The great thing about the color black, is that black is black, regardless of where it is purchased.
      • Adidas, Nike, Lululemon, Target, Badger etc.  still achieves the same aesthetic and uniformity that aides in the perfecting of cheer routines.
  • Go vintage for 2020/2021! Bring back classic SOFFEE styled shorts and a T-shirt or Tank Top.
    • Thought Process: Everyone loves a classic, and cheerleaders can make anything trendy!
      • BONUS POINT: You can get a customized set for less than $35.00 from many vendors.
cheerleading decision of the people usasf varsity allstar all star cheer cheerleading world championship the summit d2 summit Cheer Athletes Feedback – Practice wear Cost Priority

Of the nearly 11,000 Cheer Athletes respondents surveyed at the on-set of the COVID-19 crisis, athletes were overwhelmingly against ranking the appearance of practice wear over the cost incurred by their paying parents.

Now more than ever, a very unique opportunity exists to reset how all star cheerleading looks, and how much it has to cost annually.


TARGET:  Practice bows, a thorn in the sides of cheerleaders worldwide.  I know you have heard the grumblings of, “why do I have to wear it”, “I forgot it”, down to “it gives me a headache” from your athletes.  Sure, practice bows complete the ornamentation of the above mentioned practice wear look.  However, pose the same question: “is it essential?”, more than likely your athletes are still able to perform their routines to proficiency. Consider their elimination as removing added frustration found in tracking down why your athletes are lacking their practice decorations.  When you apply the second core question, is the payoff in appearance worth the money being expended?  More than likely the answer is no, and your parents would positively benefit from scaling back on such a trivial accessory which cost anywhere upwards of $30.00 and beyond.


Consider the overall benefit of an expensive practice bow, and the role to plays in producing high-quality cheerleading skills.  There is little-to-no provable correlation between wearing a practice bow and being great at cheerleading.  Add in the athlete’s stand-point, and the disdain of these accessories existence becomes even more clear.  NOW THIS: Eliminating high-dollar (embellished) practice bows is an immediate and simple concession to show clients that you are being swiftly mindful of their wallets in a post COVID-19 climate.

Of nearly 11,000 respondents in the Cheer Athletes survey, an overwhelming 87.6% immediately ranked Practice Bows as the number one point of concession for the 2020/2021 season.

cheerleading decision of the people usasf varsity allstar all star cheer cheerleading world championship the summit d2 summit Cheer Athletes Feedback – Concessions Rankings

Still think you need a practice bow?

Check options to keep the cost low, or even mix up hair pieces by pricing scrunchies (an athlete favorite) on Amazon in bulk.

An interesting cost saving idea from a dominant and well branded gym with multiple locations:

“We use the same bow every year.  It’s a simple yellow ribbon bow, that does not need to be purchased every year if they still have it.  If they don’t have it, the cost is only $10.00 to get a new one.”


TARGET:  In keeping with the theme of extravagance, everything about the competition uniforms that cheer athletes wear for competing have soared in the level of intricacy and adornment.  Competitive cheerleading’s quintessential showpiece of “keeping up with the Joneses” have forced costs higher and higher, as gyms around the country were in an “arms race” to have more bedazzlement than anyone else.


cheerleading decision of the people usasf varsity allstar all star cheer cheerleading world championship the summit d2 summit Cheer Parents Feedback – Concessions Rankings

Addressing what many have deemed out of control expenditures on competition uniforms can be evaluated using multiple cost saving initiatives.  However, each method carries its own caveat to be considered when choosing a way forward.  First and foremost, consideration should be given to your current suppliers who already have invested in the success and brand of your gym(s).

  • Extend Uniform Cycle:  Consider extending the cycle/life of your current or new uniform.  Much of the industry currently operates on a two-year cycle, before a complete re-design / gym-wide order.  Consider the savings that can be passed to your families by lengthening the time between requiring such big expenditure of $350.00 – $700.00.
    • While extending the life-cycle of your current or new uniform for many is practical consider the possibility of deterring athletes who cannot afford to expend two years in a row, should they look to make a gym switch in the last year of your uniform cycle.

cheerleading decision of the people usasf varsity allstar all star cheer cheerleading world championship the summit d2 summit Cheer Parents Feedback – Embellishment Importance

  • Cost Effective or Less Embellishments:  The rhinestone race that has gripped the cheerleading industry for years, reached new heights in 2019/2020.  With extravagance came perceived “prestige” or “eliteness”, what also accompanied it with little to curb it: cost.  It’s not a secret that the more Swarovski and other branded crystals packed on garments drove prices straight upward.
    • Consider the effectiveness of a better used patterning of stones or the mixing in of sequin (huge cost saver) and the overall effect from performance stage.  SPOILER ALERT: Whatever choice is made they all sparkle and shine, and a difference cannot be made between products in most applications.

In a survey conducted only one week into the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 14,000 Cheer Parents responded within 48 hours.  Nearly, 41% of almost 14,000 respondents were willing to concede or scale back on uniform extravagance, or extend the replacement cycle.  Of 6 categories targeted for consideration, uniforms ranked 4th most important in areas where Cheer Parents were willing to make concessions.

cheerleading decision of the people usasf varsity allstar all star cheer cheerleading world championship the summit d2 summit Cheer Athletes Feedback – Embellishment Influencing

Interestingly, in a similar survey conducted over the same time period for Cheer Athletes, nearly 11,000 respondents overwhelmingly supported the fact that rhinestones embellishments on apparel bears minimal influence in aiding them in their decision making process.


TARGET:  The biggest attractor to competitive cheerleading, is simply the desire to compete and test skillsets and perfection against like competitors.  The competition registration fees more than likely are the biggest single expense passed onto your customers.  While the competition fee is a fixed expense paid for the competition experience, the overall cost of two day competitions versus one day events are drastically different.

Comparing One Day Competitions versus Two Day Competitions

Single Day Event (Cost Beyond Athlete Registration)

  • Spectator Entrance Fee x (1 Day)
  • Parking (possible) x (1 Day)
  • Gas (round-trip) x (1)
  • Food (at least 1-2 meals) x (1 Day)

Two Day Event (Cost Beyond Athlete Registration)

  • Spectator Entrance Fee x (2 Days)
  • Parking if Driving back and forth (possible) x (2 Days), Hotel Self Parking (average $30.00 per/night), Valet Parking (as much as $55.00 per/night)
  • Gas (round-trip) x (2) if driving back and forth or x (1) if you are staying
  • Hotel Cost (minimum two nights, but often three nights)
  • Food (at least 1-2 meals) x (2 Days minimum)

Even if your two day event is considered “local”, expenses are at least doubled or more even without an overnight hotel stay when compared to a single day event.


cheerleading decision of the people usasf varsity allstar all star cheer cheerleading world championship the summit d2 summit Cheer Parents Feedback – Concessions Rankings

Be realistic about what the majority of your families can actually afford, and remember this differs from what they are willing to make extreme sacrifices to afford.  Consider modifying what you have done in past seasons to still provide a great diverse competition schedule, while being acutely mindful of the economic setbacks that will be endured through and after COVID-19.  Of nearly 14,000 Cheer Parent respondents in the cheerUPDATES’ conducted survey, 40.2% (ranked behind travel required for competition) revealed a willingness to scale back on the number of two day events. The survey revealed the group was favorable of replacing two day events with single day, or more regional styled events, when polled about what it takes to ensure their athlete can participate in competitive cheerleading in the 2020/2021 season.


TARGET:  Competitive cheerleading ranks amongst the most expensive youth sports in the world.  From the extravagance in garments to the constant jet-setting, we have evolved our sport into a full fledged lifestyle.  Outside of the fees paid to the gym for participation, we nearly double or more than double the cost of participation when you attach the travel expenses that accompany a year as a competitive cheer athlete.

Projected Travel Costs –  Single Event Weekend:

  • Airfare (2 Round-Trip) – Athlete & 1 Parent/Guardian $300.00 round-trip per/person (average round-trip airfare) $600.00
  • Hotel (3 nights) – $150.00 per/night (low end projection) $450.00 
  • Meals (3/4 days) – $100.00 per/day (minimum) $300.00
  • Spectator Admission (1) – $40.00-$50.00 (weekend cost) $40.00
  • Ground Transportation – (Uber/Lyft) $60.00 (weekend cost) $60.00

On a low end, without any extras $1,450.00 is often spent, per/weekend, to travel on top of the published expenses for participation in the sport.

RECOMMENDATION:  Consider the sustainability to expend $1,450.00 or more, multiple times in a season – on top of the cost of participation.  Can you achieve the same competition experience for your athletes, but at a lower price point?  Would you consider replacing at least one of your two day competitions, that require travel with an event(s) that does not require airfare.  The savings by removing the need for to fly cuts some $850.00 minimally when the overall savings is coupled with: one less hotel night, one day less of meals, and the removal of a need for ground transportation.

cheerleading decision of the people usasf varsity allstar all star cheer cheerleading world championship the summit d2 summit Cheer Parents Feedback – Concessions Rankings

Survey results revealed 47.4% of Cheer Parents polled, ranked Travel for Competitions, as the 3rd highest point of concession to ensure the ability to participate in cheerleading in the 2020/20201 season.

Cheer Parents, like most are willing to make many sacrifices for their children, but at what cost.  Consider the actual cost of cheerleading, and the sustainability for years when formulating a schedule that is heavily weighted in travel for cheerleading.


TARGET:  For many gyms, the COVID-19 closure has been crippling, and has left many unsure about the future of their businesses.  Competitive cheerleading is not lucrative, much of the fees paid in are merely funneled right back out to vendors.  The rising costs as discussed in length above are the product of what we have allowed ourselves to become.  The rising costs have all but squeezed out the ability to turn a profit on many of the tangibles that are being delivered to all star athletes, because to maintain those profit margins – you risk pricing people out of the sport.

RECOMMENDATION:  Work to offer a complete and total package at your gym.  Do not allow cheerleading, and it’s small markup window  to be the primary source of your business making money.  Find niche offerings not offered around you, to find means of occupying your business with paying clients for as many hours a week as possible.  Consider the options for expanding your sports offering, to make your gym location a one-stop sports/activity academy.  One of the most successful gyms in the country operates multiple activities including: competitive cheerleading, recreational tumbling classes, high school cheer classes, high school camps, college camps, open gyms, karate, competitive gymnastics, recreational gymnastics, theater class, dance fundamentals, toddler programs, Parent/Athlete classes for Toddlers, birthday parties etc.  The options to diversify your gyms are limitless, it only takes effort.  Stop relying on competitive cheer to bear the full financial burdens that you carry in operating a business.

cheerleading decision of the people usasf varsity allstar all star cheer cheerleading world championship the summit d2 summit Gym Owner Answers – Crisis Sustainability

Sadly, in a post COVID-19 world, we will see the inevitable loss of many gyms.  Of 927 gym owners polled one-week into the COVID-19 crisis, a startling number of our gyms were not financially prepared to sustain business in the case of an operating interruption.  With discussions of rolling COVID-19 flare ups, and the possibility of future disruptions, you must prepare now to diversify your offering to raise your businesses ability to sustain without passing on added expense and reliance on competitive cheer clients.


TARGET:  The competitive cheerleading competition season is long, arguably the longest season of any youth sport.  Competition events that begin in October, force our athletes to be at peak levels of fitness for up to seven months before the traditional end in May.  In recent years, the industry has been gripped by the allure of end of season events. And while yes they are great – the unpredictability of when a “Bid” is secured during the regular season (as late as March/April) forces a mad dash to plan, book, and pay for these multi-thousand dollar weekends at the end of a season.

RECOMMENDATION:  Be smart about the structure to your season, consider some of the following tips to help curtail the rush expenditures by allowing the predictability of the season’s culmination.

  • Consider the value in the hunt to extend your season, and the financial burden of a $2,000 – $4,000 expense due to the unpredictability.
  • Consider the effectiveness of accepting bids up to a certain window when attending becomes at great financial strain.
  • Consider choosing your own pathway, explore the options that exist to you, put yourself in control with a fixed culmination for your season.
  • Consider the longevity of an athlete’s ability to afford, or even desire to continue, beyond attaining their goals so many times over.


cheerleading decision of the people usasf varsity allstar all star cheer cheerleading world championship the summit d2 summit Cheer Athletes Feedback – Economic Outlook

CONCLUSION  Cheerleading needed a reset.  As unfortunate as this forced reset is upon us, we were circling mindlessly growing more out of control with our spending every season.  We are not even able to project the number of  athletes that have been lost due to their inability to afford competitive cheerleading.  Yes, the USASF in recent years has done their part in creating tiers of cheerleading to create financial entry points for the sport to further its growth.  However, we have yet to see the flourishing of those programs because there has been such a glamour divide.

In the Cheer Athlete survey conducted by cheerUPDATES 89% of athletes have already discussed the seriousness of the financial effects of COVID-19 with their parents.  Athletes, who were once one of the driving forces behind the perceived reasons that our sport became what it has in terms of glitz and glam, have never been more in-tune with what is going on in the world.

cheerleading decision of the people usasf varsity allstar all star cheer cheerleading world championship the summit d2 summitCheer Athletes have overwhelmingly begun to raise concerns about their ability to cheer next season.  Coupled with the above information about their willingness to concede towards cost saving initiatives – we have never been in a better position to re-write what all star cheerleading has to look like and cost.

Finally, the Cheer Parents survey revealed a bottom line required reduction in cost for 20.6% of respondents, and 49% need to see adjustments to allow an opportunity to save money in 2020/2021.  Never did anyone think that cheerleading would be sidelined in the manner that COVID-19 has forced upon us.  We have an industry that wants to forge forward, but one that needs insightful modifications, to successfully continue for years to come.

cheerleading decision of the people usasf varsity allstar all star cheer cheerleading world championship the summit d2 summit Cheer Parents Feedback – 2020/2021 Outlook

In closing, are we saying that everything about cheerleading needs to change?

The simple answer is, no.

However, we have been poised with an opportunity that we have never had.  In 365 days at the end of the 2020/2021 season, wouldn’t it be better to sit back and ask yourself “who were we?” instead of “who was I following?”