There are many types of cheerleaders from school cheerleaders to all star cheerleaders. Trying out for a cheerleading team can also be a stressful and daunting time. We have provided tips below on some steps you can take to help you achieve your dream of being a cheerleader.
Before You Try Out
Decide which team you want to be on and set your goals. School cheer may only have one team and sometimes will only take athletes with more advanced skills in stunting or tumbling. All star cheer will have several teams for kids at all skill levels. Some kids want to cheer for their school as well as be on all star teams. However, the school schedules may conflict with all star schedules. Check with your school or gym to see if they will allow you to double team.
Call the school or speak to the cheer coach and find out what specific skills they require the cheerleaders to have before tryouts as well as what grade level they will need to be before making the team. Some kids will plan a year in advance to be on their school cheer team. Find out if your area has summer cheer camps or clinics. You can learn a lot about cheering and improve on your skills before trying out for a team. Some kids will gain experience through an all star team, take cheer classes at their local gym or they will take tumbling classes to learn and improve tumbling skills.
Also ask if they have more than one cheer team for the school. Each school is different, and depending on size some schools will have a dance team, a football cheer team, a basketball cheer team and/or a competitive cheer team. Each of those teams may have different skill requirements.
Some schools will ask you questions kind-of like an interview. They might want to know what you think makes a good leader, what you think are good characteristics of a cheerleader, or what strengths you might bring to their team. Be prepared to answer those types of questions.
The week before tryouts schools will typically have a "cheerleading clinic" after school where you learn a cheer, a dance, as well as work on tumbling and stunt skills. At the end of the week is when tryouts will be held.
All Star Teams
All Star teams are categorized into gym size, team size, skill levels and whether the team is made up of all girls or coed. These categories determine who you will compete against at each competition. Larger gyms may be more competitive and smaller gyms may have more of a family atmosphere. Contact the local gyms and ask if they will allow you to tour their facilities. Some gyms will also have classes you can take before tryouts or they may allow you to observe or even practice with their team for a day. This will give you a feel for the gym atmosphere and coaching styles. If you have several gyms in your area, try them all out before you decide to commit to a team to see which gym best fits you.
Ask about the competition schedules. Some cheer teams will travel to many competitions during the year in multiple cities or even states whereas some teams may only travel to close or local competitions. Travel expenses can become very costly. Having an idea of each cheer teams projected travel schedule will help you pick the gym that may fit better with your budget.
Cheer Team Expectations
Regardless of your cheer team, there are certain behaviors and conduct rules that are expected of you.
1. Display good sportsmanship. No one is perfect and no team is perfect. There will be days when you mess up, the team messes up or your team doesn't win that competition. Don't start bashing the other team, the coaches or other teammates.
2. Be respectful to your coaches, parents, teammates and cheer staff.
3. Be a positive role model and a good representative for your team or school.
4. Be careful about social media. Ask the coaches and parents before you take photos inside the gym or videotape a routine. Some coaches don't want their teams routines put on the internet. Some parents may not want their child's photo on the internet. Social media is also not the place for you to put your discontent about your bad day during practice. Remember coaches, teachers and parents will see what you have posted and in some instances it will get you kicked off the team you have worked so hard to get on.
5. Follow the rules. Make sure you wear the appropriate clothing to practice/competition. Make sure your fingernails are short, your hair is styled as requested and your on time.
6. When you travel to competitions, make sure you have a list of all that you are required to bring. There is nothing more irritating and stressful than getting to your competition and only having one cheer shoe or forgetting your bow.
7. If you aren't able to make a game, a practice, a competition or something that your coach has required the team to attend, let them know way in advance. Cheerleading is a team sport and your absence will mean that someone might have to learn your spot or the coach will have to change the routine. They need plenty of time to prepare. Last minute notices or absences will upset everyone and may keep you from getting on the squad next year or even get you kicked off the team.
8. Have fun.
Know where try-outs will be held, what building or facility and arrive early! Don't be parking the car or trying to find the gym 10 seconds before tryouts start. That just leads to anxiety and stress.
Make sure you have the appropriate clothing. Tryout day will set your nerves on edge. The last thing you need to worry about is what you are wearing. Some gyms will require a pair of cheer shorts, a t-shirt in a specific color, cheer shoes and a bow. Make sure you know what clothing your are expected to wear and arrive with your clothes and hair looking neat.
Be confident in your skills. Proper technique and form during stunting and tumbling will speak volumes. If you have learned a new skill and want to show it off, but still have some apprehension, ask a coach to spot you. Some coaches may not let you show them unmastered skills, but some coaches like to know everything you can do. Safety always comes first. Don't try something you are unfamiliar with or have only attempted once or twice. Even with a spot, you can get hurt or hurt others.
If you mess up, keep going and pick up on the next move. Coaches look for how well you can recover from mistakes and get back into it. Make eye contact and smile, this exudes confidence and coaches like confidence.
Did you or did you not make the team? The waiting game is hard. However, the coaches need time to evaluate and consider each child's tumbling skills, jump skills, flexibility, height, age, stunting positions, attitude and even past positions on teams. Not every girl or boy who tries out will make the team. That's okay. Keep your chin up and be optimistic, but don't forget to prepare for getting cut from the team.
If you tried out for a school cheer and made the team, you will probably be given information about cheer camp. Cheer camp is where you learn cheers, dances, stunts and typically lasts anywhere from 3-5 days. It allows you to bond with your teammates and is an unforgettable experience.
If didn't make the team, it's okay. Schedule a time to speak with the coach and ask questions. Find out if there is something specific that needs to be mastered before trying out the next time. Sometimes kids will take classes in cheer and tumbling to prepare for the next year's tryouts.
If you tried out for an all-star team, you will most certainly make a team, but it might not be the team you want. That's okay. Coaches will always consider safety first. They don't want to put you on a team that would force you to rush a skill for which you are not ready. Sometimes coaches will wait a month or two before finalizing teams because they want to make sure they have the right combination of kids. So don't be surprised if you are asked to switch teams before the competition season starts.
Basic Cheerleading Information
Cheerleading is a great sport. It provides opportunities for kids to work in a team environment and shows them how to work toward future goals. Whether you are beginner cheerleader or seasoned athlete, you will want comfortable shoes and clothes to help you get through those tough workouts. Check out our selection of cheer shoes, apparel and bags. We have great prices and free shipping on orders over $100. Don't forget to ask about team pricing as well! New to the sport? Check out our basic cheer information on cheer teams, what to expect from your gym, tryouts and more.