Earning your cheerleading uniform and making the squad is a great feeling. It takes hard work to get there, so you should be proud of yourself! Being on a cheerleading squad is also a big responsibility though. Your actions can affect the whole team now, not just yourself. Here are five things to know about being on a team:

  1. When you miss practice, everybody suffers. You can't help being sick (other than by making sure you are getting enough sleep, water, and healthy food), but skipping practice for other reasons is not cool. You hold everyone else back because cheer is the ultimate team sport. Your stunt group can't practice without you, and the team  can't work on full routines or perfect timing and transitions without every person there. Don't join the team in the first place if you aren't going to keep your commitment! Even if you're sick or injured, ask if you can come to practice (as long as you either keep your distance or aren't contagious) to watch so you don't fall behind. Your support and dedication will mean a lot to your teammates.

  2. Pushing through injuries helps no one. You might think you are putting the team first by sucking it up and going through practices without telling your coach about an injury, but really you are hurting the team. The team is at its best when you are at your best, so it's much better for the team to have you watch from the sidelines or limit your participation while you recover. That way you will be there for the team when it really counts.

  3. You don't have to be a star athlete to be an asset to the team. A valuable teammate can be someone with amazing tumbling skills, but she  can  also be someone who inspires others to be their  best. In fact, some coaches keep capable but less athletic cheerleaders on the team just because they can count on them to perform their part every single time and they have a calming effect on their teammates. When this cheerleader is on the floor, everyone just performs better and has more confidence. When this cheerleader has to sit out for a competition with an injury, the performance suffers more than if you were missing your star cheerleader.

  4. Being close to your teammates outside of cheer will help you with cheer. You know how you can look at your best friend and know what she's thinking? Or have entire conversations where you never even have to utter a complete but she still knows exactly what you mean? Well, being that in sync with your teammates will make you a much better cheer squad. It will help with overall attitude and team morale, but it will also help with things like timing or adjusting to stunt issues. Knowing each other really well will do wonders for your performances, so spend time together, take care of each other, and have fun!

  5. You can set the example for your team. You've probably heard the saying: Attitudes are contagious. Make sure yours is worth catching. This is especially true of being on a team! Set the standard for how cheerleaders at your school or gym conduct themselves. Don't miss practice unnecessarily, only speak positively to and about your fellow cheerleaders, and always, always, always work your bow off! Be the best cheerleader and teammate you can be, and everyone else will follow your example.

What do you think cheerleaders should know about being on a team?