When a season's practices begin, cheerleaders new and old look to their leaders as they kick off the new season. If you're a captain, that may sound intimidating but it doesn't have to be. Think about the captains you've had on your squads, or maybe the kind of captain you'd like to be. Leading a cheer squad is different from leading any other team. What qualities make a great cheer captain?

Depending on the squad, there could be a thousand answers to that question, but here are some of the most important cheer captain traits for any leader, also known as the Captain's Code.

  1. I will embrace my role as a representative of my squad, my school, and my city.
    Cheerleaders have a reputation for being positive sources of encouragement and spirit. Beyond that, though, cheerleaders are also representatives of sportsmanship and leadership. The uniform you proudly wear is a constant reminder that you are part of a high-profile group people associate with your school or city. Your actions reflect on everyone around you. Be the best role model you can be not only for your teammates but for the coaches, volunteers, and fans supporting you.

  2. I will treat every cheerleader, teammate or rival, with respect, dignity, and compassion.
    The ideas, opinions, andmost importantfeelings of your teammates should matter to you as captain; make yourself available to them whether they're looking for advice, help, or just to chat, cheer-related or not.

    Never forget that every squad is made up of girls as special as the ones cheering beside you. Always show rival squads kindness and respect, both on and off the mat. Positivity goes a long way.

  3. I will respect coaches, referees, judges, volunteers, and fans at every cheer event.
    Captainship is a big responsibility, and the adults around you will expect you to act with maturity. Don't let them down! Coaches aren't the only ones who will look to you as the representative of your squad and expect you to lead. Listen to what adults have to say and treat them with respect, and they will do the same for you.

    If you need to approach one of these adults with a problem, first discuss it with a trusted adult such as a parent or coach, and if you agree it's best for you to address the situation, approach that person calmly and show that you want to work together to find a solution. Tantrums and bad attitudes accomplish nothing, especially from a captain.

  4. I will never skip or be late to practice, a game, or a competition.
    This applies to all cheerleaders, but if the captain isn't taking the squad seriously, who will? Show that cheer matters to you, and make attendance a priority. There are always exceptions, of course, so be sure to call, text, or e-mail your coach (not your teammates!) if something comes up.

  5. I will lead by example.
    If you want to lead a fierce squad, you're going to have to turn up your own fiercenessand not just when you cheer. Even more than members of the squad, the captain sets the tone for how others will perceive your team, and maybe even your school or city. Work hard at practice, make an effort to connect with your teammates, coaches, and fellow athletes, and remember the importance of respect and a positive attitude. With a captain like that, squad success is only naturaland so is having fun cheering.

Can you think of some other rules captains should lead by? What do you think makes a great captain? Do you look up to and respect your current captain? Comment below with your thoughts!