Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Kinesiology and Sport Sciences (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Arlette C. Perry

Second Committee Member

Kevin Allen Jacobs

Third Committee Member

Bobby Lee Robertson

Fourth Committee Member

Soyeon Ahn


Baton twirling is a competitive sport that has grown in popularity throughout the United States and around the world, with the hope of being recognized by the International Olympic Committee as a sport worthy of Olympic competition. Unfortunately, a paucity of research exists on physical characteristics of sport baton twirlers. The present study examined anthropometric, physical, and psychological characteristics of sport baton twirlers (n = 18) in comparison to competitive cheerleaders (n = 20) and modern dancers (n = 18) between the ages of 12 and 23. An Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) with a Tukey’s post hoc test for the significant effect showed that sport baton twirlers were taller than competitive cheerleaders (p = 0.011) and demonstrated a trend toward weighing more (p = 0.063). Upon controlling for weight and height, an Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) with Fisher’s least significant difference (LSD) post hoc test showed that sport baton twirlers completed a significantly higher number of alternate hand wall tosses than competitive cheerleaders and modern dancers (p < 0.001 for both), scored higher on the Harvard step test fitness index than competitive cheerleaders (p = 0.028) and modern dancers (p = 0.003), possessed greater right handgrip strength than both competitive cheerleaders and modern dancers (p < 0.001 for both), and possessed greater left handgrip strength than competitive cheerleaders (p = 0.010) and modern dancers (p = 0.07). The same analysis also showed that modern dancers had significantly greater hamstring flexibility than sport baton twirlers (p = 0.007) and performed significantly better than competitive cheerleaders in the push-up fitness test (p < 0.001). ANCOVA results showed no differences in self-reported questionnaires for psychological measures among the three sport groups. Our findings showed significant differences in anthropometric and physical characteristics in sport baton twirlers compared to modern dancers and competitive cheerleaders. These finding may have important implications for training and conditioning requirements specific to the three athletic groups. Furthermore, these differences observed among the three sport groups may be due to different types of training.


sport baton twirlers; competitive cheerleaders; modern dancers; physiological; psychological