Have you ever seen a cheerleader tumble and wondered how they learned to do it? If so, the answer most likely involves a cheerleading mat. Cheerleaders use mats for everything from stretching to learning new tumbling passes. Below we will discuss some of the basic things to know about cheer mats.
What are cheerleading mats used for?
Cheerleading mats, while often overlooked, are actually an integral piece of equipment. They make stretching, as well as practicing, much easier and safer. This is because they provide a barrier between the cheerleader and the floor. Mats are basically just a layer of cushion, the thickness of which depends on the type of mat, that protects an athlete by softening the impact of the ground beneath.
One factor that makes cheerleading mats important and unique is that they can be used in almost every aspect of cheerleading. Improving flexibility, getting better jumps, working on stunts, and tumbling can all be aided by the implementation of a cheer mat. The softer surface of the mat is much more forgiving than the floor, meaning that there's more room for error when learning a new skill. It also means that there's less damage to an athlete's body over time, so they're able to enjoy the sport as long as possible.
Things To Consider
When looking for cheerleading mats, you'll want to consider the following:
- What are you going to use the cheerleading mat for?
- How much room do you have to store a cheerleading mat?
- How much money do you have to spend on a cheerleading mat?
- Do you need to transport the mat frequently?
- Do you need a mat that is easy to clean?
Types of Cheer Mats
As mentioned above, there are a few different types of cheerleading mats and they are all useful. Below we will cover a few of those different types and what they are best suited for.
Foam Rolling Mats (Flexi-Roll Mats)
Foam rolling mats or flexi-roll mats are a staple for every cheer squad. These mats are most popular for practicing stunts and running tumbling since they provide a stable, flat surface; however, they're also used for training jumps. As far as cheerleading mats go, this one is a catchall and a safe bet for someone who is looking to get a lot of use out of one mat.
Foldable mats are relatively small and usually have a handle attached, making them easy to transport. This mat is thin, like the flexi-roll mat, but not as hard so it's better for stretching. Also similar to the foam rolling mat is the design which makes it easier to store when not in use.
Crash mats come in a variety of sizes but they are usually the thickest of all of the mats discussed here. As the name implies, they are great for falling into when learning new tumbling skills because they are larger and softer than the last two mats but heavy enough to take the brunt of the impact without moving.
Incline mats are so named because they are taller on one end than the other, creating a slope or incline. This angled mat is best for practicing standing tumbling and improving flexibility. Back flexibility and hyperextended splits (both of which are important for good jumps and flyer positions) are not as hard to attain with this mat.
Just as important as the type of mat is the material that the mat is made from.
- Polyurethane Foam: This is the material most commonly used for foam rolling mats, offering stability and shock absorption.
- Vinyl: Vinyl may be the outer layer of a mat, providing a smooth surface for stretching.
- Carpet: Carpet may also be used as the outer layer of a mat when a less slippery surface is preferred.
There are a few brands that are known for selling the types of mats detailed above. Some of the most popular brands include Z Athletic, IncStores, and We Sell Mats.
- Z Athletic: This brand is best known for its foldable and incline mats which come in an array of different colors and include handle options.
- IncStores: IncStores also makes foldable mats, but has a far greater selection of flexi-roll mats in varying lengths.
- We Sell Mats: Offering the widest selection, We Sell Mats can act as a one stop shop for all of an athlete's mat needs.
Important considerations when looking into cheerleading mats are durability, cost, and size.
A flexi-roll mat is the most durable because it doesn't offer much padding to begin with. Mats that are specifically for providing cushioning, like crash mats and foldable mats, may need to be replaced more often because extended and repeated use cause them to become flat.
The cost of a cheerleading mat can change significantly depending on the measurements of the mat. The thicker a mat is, the more expensive it will be. The same goes for the length of the mat with shorter, smaller mats being less expensive. Any foldable mat with at least two inches of thickness will likely cost at least $100 while crash, incline, and foam rolling mats are upwards of $130.
Cheerleading mats come in a size for everyone. Shorter lengths are typically reserved for people who are shorter while longer mats are best for those who are taller. The dimensions of a mat also include thickness and this is important for people who want to learn new skills or lessen the strain on their body while practicing.
What is the size of a cheer mat?
Cheer mats come in just about any size. Incline mats are usually the shortest and foam rolling mats are usually the longest. The tallest or thickest mats are crash mats and foldable mats may be the thinnest. A standard size for foldable mats is 4'x6'x2" and a standard size for flexi-roll mats is 5'x10'.
How much do cheer mats cost?
A standard size foldable mat can cost about $150 but can be cheaper for smaller sizes and less than two inches of thickness. A 5'x10' flexi-roll mat can cost between $200 and $260 but, again, this changes with the length of the mat. The average incline mat is around $200 and crash mats start around $400 for four inches of thickness.
What are cheerleading mats made of?
Cheerleading mats are typically made of polyurethane foam and vinyl or carpet. These materials are relatively easy to clean and light enough to carry while still being strong enough to act as a buffer between a cheerleader and the floor. Which material is used depends on the purpose of the mat, such as carpet for running tumbling and vinyl for standing tumbling.