Words of Cheer - The Iconic Pom-Pom

The inclusion of pom-poms is a relatively new addition to the sport of cheerleading; the pom-pom was patented in 1971. Lawrence Herkimer, the American grandfather of cheerleading was the inventor of this colorful device.

The late 1960s saw the coming of colour television, and it was Herkimer’s idea to add an eye-catching flash of color to cheerleading routines that were being televised during sporting events. He added the handle, hidden inside the tassels, so that the cheerleaders could have a firm grip. Herkimer’s original name for the device was pom-pon, but for whatever reason “pom-pom” is that name that sticks to this day. 

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The use of pom-poms is inconsistent, even in sideline cheerleading for sport teams. Pom-poms are rarely seen in the world of competitive All-Star cheerleading, although at the 2018 International Cheerleading Federation competition, the use of pom-poms and a vocalized cheer were mandatory.  This rule was resurrected as a way to return to the traditional roots of the sport.

Pom-poms come in a variety of sizes, some about 6” diameter, and the larger style is about 12” in diameter.  “Pom” is another category of routine that exists under the umbrella of cheerleading in some jurisdictions.  “Pom” is best described as a modern jazz dance routine, usually performed by a school-based Pom Squad. Pom routines do not include stunting or tumbling. Performers of “Pom” consistently use pom-poms in their routines.

As the newly formed Cheer Canada organization steers the sport toward its Olympic debut in 2020, stay tuned to see if pom-poms return to All-Star Cheerleading in Canada.

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