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For other uses, see Pom-pom (disambiguation).
A pair of cheerleading pom-poms.

A pom-pom – also spelled pom-pon, pompom or pompon – is a loose, fluffy, decorative ball or tuft of fibrous material. Pom-poms may come in many colors, sizes, and varieties and are made from a wide array of materials, including wool, cotton, paper, plastic, and occasionally feathers. Pom-poms are shaken by cheerleaders, Pom or Dance teams and sports fans during spectator sports. Small decorative pom-poms may be attached to clothing; these are sometimes called toories or bobbles.

Pom-pom is derived from the French word pompon, which refers to a small decorative ball made of fabric or feathers.


Sports and cheerleading[edit]

Cheerleaders using pom-poms during an American football halftime show.

Cheerleaders use pom-poms at sports events for five reasons:

  • to attract the attention of the spectators
  • to accentuate movements
  • to add "sparkle" to a cheer, chant, or dance routine
  • to distract the opposing team
  • to spell out team's name or "go"

Most often, pom-poms are used in pairs (one in each hand), but this may vary with the particular requirements of the choreography of a dance or cheer.

Cheerleading pom-poms come in a variety of shapes, styles, colors, color combinations, and sizes. Shiny metallic pom-poms have become very popular in recent years.

A group performance using pom-poms.

Pom-poms are also waved by sports fans, primarily at college and high school sports events in the United States, Cheap, light-weight faux pom-poms in team colors are sometimes given or sold to spectators at such events. Many schools and universities have dance teams in addition to their cheerleading groups. The dance teams may also use pom-poms occasionally.


Shako dating from the Bourbon Restoration with a red company pompon.

Small pom-poms may be used to adorn hats (such as Tam o' Shanters and some styles of the tuque), socks, fringed dresses, and other kinds of clothing.

Pom-poms form a conspicuous part of the uniform of French naval personnel, being sewn onto the crown of their round cap. Belgian sailors wear a light blue version.

Traditional Italian wedding shoes have small pom-poms, as do some Turkish dancing shoes.

Roman Catholic clergymen[edit]

Roman Catholic clergymen wear the biretta. The colour of its pom-pom denotes the wearer's rank. Priests wear a black biretta with a black pom. Protonotaries and Domestic Prelates (now Prelates of Honour) have a scarlet pom on their black birettas, and Papal Chamberlains (now Chaplains to His Holiness) wear a Roman purple pom on their black birettas.

Bishops and Archbishops wear a Roman purple biretta with matching pom. The scarlet birettas of the Cardinals have no pom, only a red loop. There is no Papal biretta.

Some religious orders and congregations have unique birettas, such as the Norbertines who wear a white biretta with a white pom. Some St. Francis fathers wear a brown biretta with a black pom. Other orders may wear a black biretta with a white, green, or blue pom, or the black biretta of the secular priesthood.

A Balmoral bonnet with a red toorie.


In reference to Scottish Highland dress and Scottish military uniforms, the small pom-pon on the crown of such hats as the Balmoral, the Glengarry, and the Tam o' Shanter is called a "toorie".

The toorie is generally made of yarn and is traditionally red on both Balmorals and Glengarries (although specific units have used other colours). It has evolved into the smaller pom-pom found on older-style golf caps and the button atop baseball caps.


Fans at Australian rules football matches wave floggers behind the goals to signify that a goal was scored

In Australia, the term "flogger" is sometimes used rather than "pom-pom". Floggers are very large, heavy pom-pons in the team's colours. They sometimes require more than one person to lift them, and they are waved about when a goal is scored.

Floggers are an important part of Australian rules football culture and cheer-squads.

Toys and bicycles[edit]

Pom-poms are sometimes used as children's toys. They are a common feature at the ends of the handlebars of children's tricycles and bicycles, especially girls' bicycles.