Even experienced cheerleading coaches need to get a few things straight before they begin coaching at a new school or cheerleading organization. Here are five questions to ask before the start of the season: What is my budget? If you’re at a school, find out how much money you get to buy uniforms, warmups, poms, and other gear as well as any other costs you’ll encounter‚ like competition fees and travel costs. This way, you’ll know how to prioritize your wants and needs and how much you’ll need to fundraise. If you’re on a rec or competitive team that isn’t associated with a school, you’ll still need to find out what kind of budget you’ll be working with so you’ll know how much to fundraise and whether you’ll need to let parents know they’ll have to cover some costs. What are the team dynamics at the school? Do other teams look down on the cheerleaders at this school or are they generally supportive? Cheerleading not getting as much respect as the other sports doesn’t have to be a deal breaker, but it’s a good thing to know going in so you aren’t surprised by it and so you can go in with the intention of changing that perception. You can ask the former coach, the athletic director, returning cheerleaders, and parents. What is the season schedule? Knowing the schedule and whether it will fit in with any other obligations you have is something you should do before accepting the position. Obviously, you can’t be the coach if you have another job that will conflict with practices, games, competitions, and other events. Aside from that first step though, having a general idea of the games and practices will help you create the rest of your schedule, like what competitions to register for and when to plan fundraisers, pep rallies, and other team events. What are the school or team rules? As the coach, you’ll need to know both the rules that apply to you and the rules that apply to your team members. For instance, is there a dress code you need to keep in mind when you order uniforms and team practice wear? At some schools, cheerleaders can wear their uniforms to games, but they aren’t allowed to wear them to school on game days. Find this out at the beginning so you and your cheerleaders won’t be surprised if you have to wear your team warmups or t-shirts instead of uniforms to school. There may also be rules on school colors. For instance, you might want to order uniforms or warmups with black on them in addition to your school colors. Some schools only permit their sports teams to wear their school colors on official team gear. Find this out before you order black warmups that you won’t be able to use! For your cheerleaders, find out what the grade requirements are to participate so you can check in on them and make sure they remain eligible. There might also be rules about school attendance, such as that if an athlete misses school that day, he or she cannot attend practice either. Make sure you and your team members are aware of these rules! Who is in charge? You need to know what you have the final say on and what you need to get approved by school administration. Do you need to clear practice schedules with the athletic director? Does a school administrator need to approve your uniforms before you place the order? Find out who the point person is for issues you may face and who you should contact with questions. What other questions should cheer coaches ask before the season begins?