Sideline season is finally here after months of anticipation! You’ve been busy getting in top cheer shape, working on your cheers and routines, and preparing for pep rallies, but a few small mistakes could take away from all your hard work. Here are five common mistakes to avoid when sideline cheering:

  1. Under exaggerating. As a sideline cheerleader, you have to exaggerate certain things to an extent to make sure they’re seen—like facials, for example. At a football game, you are going to be a ways away from the crowd, after all. Facials, makeup, and accessories like bows, socks, and poms should be bold to draw and keep the crowd’s attention. The same holds true for basketball, but you can go less bold than you would for a football game since you won’t be as far away from the fans. 

  2. Skipping the warmup. It may sound unnecessary—you’ll be warm after a few minutes of cheerleading anyway—but a proper warmup really is key for an injury-free game. You’ll be able to perform better, too, so it’s a win-win. Show up to the game early if you have to. Just make sure you get a sufficient warmup in. Your warmup can be jogging, running in place, doing jumping jacks—whatever it takes to get your blood pumping a little bit before you start.

  3. Neglecting to conduct a safety check. This can be brief. Just scan the area where you’ll be cheering for anything that could get in the way of your planned cheers and routines. Look for trash, pebbles, a sweatshirt discarded by another athlete, etc. If there’s something big, like a bench or boulder that you can’t move, make sure to point it out to your teammates so that no one accidentally backs into it while you’re cheering.

  4. Not knowing the rules. Even if you rely on your captain to call out the cheers, a basic understanding of the rules of the game can go a long way toward being a great cheerleader. A captain needs to know how the game works in order to decide what cheers are best for the occasion, but every cheerleader can benefit from a little knowledge of the game. Following the game will make your excitement and enthusiasm authentic and even more contagious. 

  5. Being too quiet. This one sounds obvious, and it is—but if you’ve ever been at a game where a team’s cheerleading squad can barely be heard, you know how important it is. And it happens more often than you’d think! Project your voices. Using a megaphone can help a lot, especially for outdoor sports, like football. Nothing kills spirit like near silence during a game. Now, if you have gotten the crowd so loud that you can’t even hear yourself think let alone cheer over the noise, that just means you’ve done your job! In this case, you can use megaphones, signs, and banners to lead your eager fans in cheers.

What other mistakes should cheerleaders avoid on the sidelines?