So you want know how to be a cheerleader? Here's a beginner's
Cheerleading should be about having a
positive and supportive attitude, school spirit and enthusiasm. No
question about that. But there is also a tremendous physical aspect to
it. The pages listed above will give you the low-down nitty gritty
step-by-step how-to on the most essential elements
that every cheerleader from beginner ankle biters on up to adults should master.
Trying out soon?
The number one tryout question is, "What do I need to know to make
the team?" The only person who can accurately answer that is the
team coach; so don't be shy, go find out. It would be heartbreaking
to show up for tryouts only to discover that a back handspring or back
tuck is required and you don't have one yet. So get the information
ahead of time so that you know what to work on. If you want to see
generic score sheets,
go here and look at some of these. But again, only the team coach
knows exactly what your team needs for tryouts, so go
ask. (For all-stars, you can
see the skill levels
here.) If you have never been a cheerleader and don't know what to expect,
you can watch videos of kids trying out for various teams, and teams
preparing for competition. For online viewing just go to the following website and look for
the episodes about cheerleaders:
"MADE". (Check with Mom
and Dad if it's ok to watch these videos, which are made for teenagers.
Some episodes seem to be missing, so check back now and then to see if
they have been added. Tips for making YouTube more
Please review before watching videos.)
"Cheerleader Nation" and
"Cheerleader U." also encapsulate the tryout and
As far as requirements go, generally speaking if it is a very athletic and competitive
squad you are trying out for you will want to sign up for a
tumbling class; and nearly every day do tumbling
and conditioning for strength, endurance and flexibility; and
work on motions and jumps as well.
If you don't have tryouts until late summer or fall, a summer camp is a
great idea. You can learn a lot about cheering and get a feel for how
tryout clinics work by going to one. To find a camp check with your
local universities and see if their teams are doing clinics, or if you
are in the USA go here:
http://varsity.com/camps/ (In the banner at the bottom of that last
link are icons for different cheering companies. You can click those
icons, find their section on camps, then click the link to camp search
or camp finder. It will bring up a search form so you can check your
state and others nearby. You will have to contact the camp, however, and
see if they have a "camp team" available for individuals who are
attending without a team of their own.)
A word to the wise, if you are going to be a cheerleader
you need to grow a thick skin!! If your coach
comes into your house and straightens out a crooked picture hanging on
your wall, would that make you cry? Of course not! And the same should
go if (s)he or another team member straightens out your high V, or toe
touch, or dance moves. Don't take constructive criticism personally, but
please do listen to it and learn from it.
Finally, as important as all of the cheer skills are, don't ignore the academic side of things if this is a school
team. Make sure your grades are good enough to be allowed to try out.
Before and during the clinic and tryout, visualize yourself
performing all of your skills successfully.
Have someone video you doing your skills, so that you can see
what the judges would see if you tried out today. Then fix anything
that doesn't look right.
If you are the type to get nervous performing for a crowd,
practice with an audience of friends and family watching you so that
you get used to being in front of people. On the day of tryouts,
when it's time to go out in front of the judges by yourself, try
taking some deep breaths and then do your thing like your best
friend is standing beside you, and there's no one else around.
(And remember, your body doesn't know the difference between
nervousness and excitement. The physical processes are the same. So
any time you feel nervous, try to convince yourself that you are
actually excited by listing things that really get you pumped up.)
Have all your signed waivers and permission forms in your hand
ready to turn in when the coach asks for them.
When tryouts come you should wear a tee shirt or tank top and
stretchy shorts or skort in school or gym colors. (Do not roll the
shorts up a million times until your bum hangs out.) Comfortable
sneakers with white socks, a ponytail with a hair bow. Very minimal,
clean, natural-looking make-up if you are an older student. Just
clear or light-colored NON-frosted lip gloss if you are younger.
When spiriting onto the floor, don't yell, "Woooo!" Coaches
really don't like that. Instead, try saying things like, "Let's go
Cougars! Cougars, Number one! Go Big Green!
All right!" and make sure you are
projecting with a loud, low-ish
voice from your stomach instead of screeching from your throat.
Smile, smile, smile! Show that enthusiasm and pep!
Keep your motions tight, and
snap them into place.
Be enthusiastic about trying new things. "Can't" is not in your
vocabulary, but "I'll try" is. (Unless it would be
dangerous, such as throwing a back tuck when you have never done
If you don't understand something, ask!
If you make a mistake, pick up the next move and keep going!
Make eye contact with the judges. Exude confidence!
Don't forget, coaches aren't just watching you for your current skills, they are also looking to see if you have the potential to grow. And they are keeping an eye out for how well you work with others, too.
No coach wants a diva, crybaby, whiner, or Miss Bossy joining the squad
and ruining all the fun for everyone. You might have great skills but if
you have a lousy attitude it will definitely count against you!
Some schools will ask you to answer interview or essay questions.
Some examples of those are:
In what ways would you be a good leader?
What is the role of a good cheerleader? What
characteristics should (s)he possess?
If you were asked to try something new but weren't sure if you could do
it, what would you do?
What are your strengths as a cheerleader? (Tumbling, stunting, dancing,
jumping, crowd leading, dedication, positive attitude, kindness,
well under pressure)
What skills do you most hope to improve this year? (Tumbling, stunting,
dancing, jumping, crowd leading etc)
Cheerleaders are school ambassadors to the community. They also boost
school and team spirit. Which one do you think is most important?
As a cheerleader, you should be proud of your school and community and
ready to bring them together through volunteer work and other acts of
goodwill. What community volunteer work would you suggest the
cheerleaders do this year?
Do you have any thoughts on pep rally themes and activities to use
during the next season?
What other spirit-boosting ideas do you have?
Please make an example of a spirit poster and bring it to