AES Cougar Cheerleading

Sample Practice Plan

Coaching    Dance    Exercises    Jumps    Motions    Stunting    Tryouts   Tumbling

Here's what we do at most practices, though not always in this order and not always everything on the list. It depends on the length of the practice and how attentive the kids are that day. Normally, to help keep me organized, I use an outline format for my plans and color code each heading so that I can tell at a glance where I am at. I can also jot down notes of things I notice that need further work or sudden flashes of inspiration as we go along.

(For a list of games and ice breakers, see below. For tips on coaching youth teams, go here.)

Upon arrival
Hand out papers
Group meeting (Discuss any issues that have come up such as behavior problems, or pass on information such as competition dates or plans for the mid-season pizza party.)
Explain what we will be doing that day & post the schedule on the wall to help keep us on time.

Warm up
Team relay races: Running, skipping, leaping (grand jetes), side and front chasses. Sometimes we add crabs, wheelbarrows, and log rolls for fun. Jumping jacks, air jacks, rapid tuck jumps, high jumps, bunny hops, and candlestick jumps if we didn't warm up enough with the races.

Stretching and conditioning
(Below is only a short list of possible stretches and exercises. See the exercises page if you don't know what some of these stretches are or if you would like to try something different.)
Neck rolls and nods
Shoulder rolls front and back
Triceps pulls across chest and over head
Interweave fingers and turn hands palm out to stretch wrists
Interweave fingers behind the back, bend over and pull
Swing arms and twist waist
Spider and runner's stretches
Sitting straddles (including twists) or lie on back and pull straddles to floor
Pike stretches
Bridge rocks
Bridge leg and arm lifts
Push ups
Partner push ups (wheelbarrow style)
V-Ups and Pike-ups
Sitting toe touches
Hip rolls
Stunt top positions

Bathroom & water break

Forward and backward rolls
Handstand kicks
Handstand roll downs and back extensions
Handstand/front limber/stand up/back limber/kick over
Cartwheels (standing/running)
Round-offs (standing/running)
If there is time and the kids are ready, we review the basics of front and back handsprings and do jump backs onto a mat, handsprings over a rolled mat, and/or spotted handsprings.

Bathroom & water break

Pencil jumps with different arm positions
10 jumps with preps on each (usually toe touches and pikes at the beginning of the year, add other jumps later)
10 jumps, one prep to start and then just pop back to next jump after that (stamina jumps)

Bathroom & water break

Motion drills
Review hand and arm placement, work on timing and cleanness

Bathroom & water break

Review cheers and dance choreography

Bathroom & water break

Review safety and proper mount and dismount of thigh stands, assisted toe touches, straddle lifts, preps, show and gos, cradles etc.

Bathroom & water break

Final meeting before leaving where I ask them what they think they did well with and what needs more work. Always talk to every child and always leave them feeling good about something they did that day. Any reminders I need to give are done at this time, when the parents are there to pick them up. Occasional reminders of our goals are given if it seems like we are losing our direction: 1) Have fun, 2) Boost school spirit, 3) Reach out to the community, & 4) Prepare for High school cheering.

More practice plans and tips
Squad Practice Worksheet from AACCA
Advice from Varsity
How to run an effective practice by Pam Headridge
Seven practice principles
Organizational Chart


1)   Simon Says or Mother May I with cheer motions

2)   Switch: Split the kids into 2 groups and put them at opposite sides of the gym or field, but still close enough that they can hear you. Make a list ahead of time with questions like: Do you have a dog? Do you have a cat? Do you have a computer? Do you have a sister? Is your favorite color red? etc etc. Every time the kids would answer yes to the question, they need to run across the gym or field to the other group.

To make this an Ice Breaker instead of a warm-up have the people who answer yes to the questions raise their hands. They need to find at least one other person who has their hand raised and get together with them. People who don't have their hands raised need to get together in twos or threes as well. Try to encourage them to group together with people they don't know instead of old friends. Quickly, each person in the small groups must explain why they answered the way they did and give a short detail like "I have 3 dogs and they are all English setters. I love them because they are so sweet and funny." or "I don't have dogs because I'm allergic." The point of all this is it's a pretty fast way for people to discover who they have things in common with, which makes them feel more comfortable about talking with each other in the future. :^)

3)  Little Sally Walker

4)   Show me the mummy! Without telling them why, break the kids up into small groups and have them pick a captain. Then give them the toilet paper and tell them they need to make a mummy out of their captain faster than the other teams.

5)   Emotions: Have small groups of kids turn back to each other. When you call out and emotion, they have to turn and face each other, making the expression of the feeling you just called out. The deal is, they have to try not to laugh when they see each other. It's harder than it sounds.

There are tons more ice breakers here, but you have to sign up at the forum and then request access to the coaches' area here in order to see the thread.