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What are Pom Poms?

By J. Beam
Updated May 23, 2024
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Pom poms are strings of material tethered to a centered handle so that they form a fluffy sort of ball. Most notably seen in the sport of cheerleading, pom poms are also used in craft projects or sewing projects, though the spelling generally differentiates the term. Pom poms, with or without a hyphen, is the widely used spelling for crafting or sewing, and these pom poms are generally made of yarn. In the sport of cheerleading, you will most frequently see the spelling pom-pons over pom poms.

The strings of cheerleeding pom poms are typically made of plastic, sometimes shiny and in any variety of colors and sizes. Just like foam fingers, pom poms are often sold to fans and spectators at major sporting events. In the sport of cheerleading, pom-pons are part of the complete package. From a spectator perspective, they add visual appeal to a cheer routine. Cheerleaders must incorporate the pom-pons into their routine and learn to synchronize their movements with each member of the cheerleading squad so that the visual appeal is magnified.

If you’ve ever seen a cheerleading squad performing at a sports event, you’ve certainly noticed how their pom-pons add flare to their routine. However, at competitive levels, pom-pons play a more complex role. In a competition, a squad must perform certain required elements in each part of their routine. Some elements require the use of pom-pons, and the squad will be judged on their artistic use, number of tosses and catches, and so forth.

In the sport of cheerleading, pom-pons are used in the very youngest of squads. Even children too young for cheerleading are drawn to pom poms because they are decorative and usually shiny, not to mention they make an intriguing sound when shaken. However, small children should not be given pom poms as a plaything because the strings can come loose and break off, posing a choking hazard. For children old enough to avoid putting things in their mouth or chewing on things, you can make pom poms for playing by cutting crepe paper streamers into narrow strips, folding them in half and tying them with string about 3 inches (7.6 cm) from the fold. Be sure to use enough strips to create the fullness you want.

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