Cheerleading underwear are the clothes worn by cheerleaders close to their skin while performing their routines. In line with uniforms as a whole, a cheerleader’s underwear is regulated.
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Any garment worn close to the skin and under other garments is considered underwear. Traditionally, this refers to panties, briefs and boxers. It also extends to socks, stockings and bras. Shorts, t-shirts and nightclothes, when worn with no other clothes underneath, are also considered forms of underwear. Such clothing can be purely practical or, like with lingerie, decorative.
Since the early 1900s, the cheerleading uniform has represented schools and teams. Their color schemes would be designed to fit that of the school or team the cheerleaders belonged to. The uniforms would also bear the school’s logo. Modern cheerleading underwear is sometimes also stamped with the school's logo.
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Cheerleading underwear first became important during this era for two reasons: the shorter skirts and the ever more complex routines. Shorter skirts made the more complex routines safer, but tricks such as high kicks and toe-touches revealed what the cheerleaders were wearing underneath.
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Garments worn under the skirts are the most controversial element of cheerleading underwear. Briefs tend to be made out of spandex or polyester and are alternatively known as lollies and spankies. Professional squads have their own rules and a greater variety of underwear. Other types of cheerleading underwear include sports bras and socks. Such bras provide better support for breasts during strenuous exercises. The crossed straps at the back also reduce pressure on the shoulder muscles.