Cheerleading Shoe History

The cheer uniform wouldn't be complete without a stylish, comfortable pair of cheer shoes on your feet. It's been that way since the beginning.

In the old days, cheerleading squads were commonly clad in basic saddle shoes or classic canvas sneakers, worn with knee-high stockings or bobby socks. Long pleated skirts and wool cardigans bearing the school letter, or in the case of the men, long baggie pleated pants, was made complete with this shoe. Cheer feet have changed little through the 1960s, and in fact the mid 1970s saw a comeback of the 1950s saddle shoe, once again a popular accent to the cheer uniform. Other cheer squads began to choose the more athletic shoe to top their look.

The "Sneaker"

Keds original Champion sneaker was the common choice of early-day cheer teams. The look wasn't just popular with cheerleaders; it became synonymous with such American female legends as Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn. Slang for "tennis shoes", the term "sneaker" was first used in Boston in 1887. After the U.S. Rubber company introduced Keds in 1916, "sneaker" became a household word for the rubber-soled canvas tennis shoe. Its soft sole let the wearer "sneak up" behind others without making a sound. In 1938, Keds introduced a line of shoes called Kedettes, a soft-soled, high-healed shoe, popular through the 1950s. Designs included a simple a saddle shoe sneaker.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Keds marketed a line of athletic shoe called "Pro-Keds" specifically for basketball players, but were used by many athletes. Keds were a trademark symbol for the styles of the 1980s and 1990s when they became a popular accoutrement to a fashionable pair of slouch stockings and leggings. And of course, they remained an accessory to the cheerleading outfit. The iconic shoe was often seen worn by TV sit-com characters on such shows as Happy Days and Full House.

The more athletic looking cheer shoe became preferred from the late 1990s through 2005, but alas the simple canvas sneaker made a comeback and is currently sold in a variety of lace-up and slip-on designs and patterns.

The Saddle Shoe

In the 1950s, the saddle shoe was probably the most common choice for cheerleaders. Sneaker manufacturers such as Keds introduced the saddle shoe sneaker, originally marketed to cheerleaders and sold by cheerleading supply companies. A Reebok ad states: "...in all the history of cheerleading, no other shoe but the saddle has symbolized the American cheerleader." Even though you rarely see cheerleaders wearing the classic saddle shoe anymore, we cannot separate the shoe from the cheerleading of yesteryear.

Shopping for the Right Cheer Shoe

Whatever kind of cheer shoe you're shopping for, here are some basic tips for choosing the right pair.

Cheer shoe trends have tried on and tested the classic canvas and saddle shoe sneakers with much success. It seems the times have teams opting for an all-around athletic shoe today. Since cheer involves a variety of athletic movements, an all-purpose sport shoe is the logical choice. Generally what you'll be looking for in a good athletic shoe is a design that offers comfort. An excellent design will minimize injury while maximizing performance. The wrong shoe may cause ankle, shin, knee, back and hip injuries. And remember, if you're in between shoe sizes, choose the larger shoe and wear thicker socks. For the best prices on discount cheer shoes, shop online at Epic sports.



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