Cheerleading as a Sport: Body Dissatisfaction, Physical Self-Concept, and Sport-Specific Body Pressures in Adolescent and Adult Sideline and Competition Cheerleading
Alicia Johnson, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA
Theme: Motivation and self-perceptions
Program ID: LEC-07A
Presentation: October 3, 2013 11:30 am - 12:30 pm
Room: Oak Alley
Sport involvement has been related to higher levels of physical self-concept and lower body dissatisfaction (Greenleaf, Boyer, & Petrie, 2009); however, female athletes have been found to be susceptible to body dissatisfaction (Petrie & Greenleaf, 2011) and low physical self-concept (Brettschneider & Heim, 1997; Schmalz & Davison, 2006), particularly when participating in aesthetic sports (Crissey & Honea, 2006; Kelly, 2004) such as cheerleading (Reel & Gill, 1996). Most research on cheerleading has failed to distinguish between sideline and competition cheerleading. The purpose of this research was to examine body dissatisfaction, physical self-concept, and sport-specific body pressures of sideline and competition cheerleaders. Female sideline, competition, and combination (those who do both) cheerleaders (N = 333) completed the body dissatisfaction scale of the Eating Disorder Inventory (Garner et al., 1983), the Short Version of the Physical Self Description Questionnaire (Marsh & Redmayne, 1994), and CHEER (Reel & Gill, 1996). Significant differences were found between sideline and competition cheerleaders in terms of self-concept related to strength and flexibility. Analysis of qualitative responses indicated that competition cheerleading required more behind the scenes work, included more difficult aspects of performance, was more organized, and involved less of an emphasis on physical appearance than sideline cheerleading. These results suggest that competition cheerleading is associated with more favorable physical self-concept than sideline cheerleading. Sport psychology consultants may benefit from understanding the distinctions between and specific pressures experienced by sideline and competition cheerleaders.