Even the off-season isn't really an off-season for cheerleaders and cheer coaches. Many cheer teams are training and practicing year-round. While there are so many different types of cheerleading teams nowadays -- All Stars, Pop Warner, sideline-only, sideline and competitive... -- there are generally standard focuses every cheerleading team should be working on each season.

Spring
Spring can either be a very busy and stressful season or a relaxed season, depending on the type of squad. For All Star squads, competition season is ending soon but, with the approach of Worlds and other major competitions, cheerleaders are busy practicing and giving their all. School squads that don't compete will have a slower spring season. Many have tryouts in the spring, which means this is a season for saying hellos and goodbyes to new and old teammates.

If you're a cheerleader, make sure you:
  • are working on your flexibility, stamina, and strength. If you don't have practice, you'll need to maintain these skills on your own.

  • get to know your new teammates.

  • stock up on practice wear for summer and camp before it's too late!

  • have any and all paperwork complete and turned in to the coach, along with any program fees that are due.


While spring may be a slower season for some cheerleaders, it can still be very busy for coaches. During the spring, coaches should be planning for the new cheer year with their new team. Coaches will be planning for camp, selecting new team uniforms, creating new routines and cheers, and, of course, getting to know their new team members and finding out their strengths and areas for improvement.

If you're a coach, make sure you...
  • have all documentation for each team member, including contact information, parent information, apparel sizes, allergies, etc.

  • have plans for camp and/or summer practice set and ready.

  • inform your new team of rules and regulations.

  • meet with all cheer parents and brief them about the upcoming year.

  • have at least a general plan for the upcoming year, including emergency regulations, deadlines for payments, etc.


Summer
It's the season for camp! School is out, which means cheerleaders can dedicate more time to practice and training.

If you're a cheerleader, make sure you:
  • work as hard as possible at camp.

  • practice smart in the heat. Have water bottles, sunscreen, and snacks always on hand.

  • ask the coach if you have absolutely any problems or concerns. You'll be learning a lot during summer and it can be easy to forget steps. Don't hesitate to ask the coach or captain for help. Do it during the summer, otherwise you'll be lost in the fall!


If you're a coach, make sure you:
  • have a plan for camp, including fun team building activities, routines, cheers, chants, etc.

  • have ordered your team uniforms for the fall season.

  • start working with a choreographer, if you think you'll need one for an upcoming season's routine.

  • have all the proper equipment necessary if your team will be stunting and performing advanced tumbling moves.

  • have your fundraising ideas and plans in place.


Fall
You know what fall means: sideline cheering! School squads will be cheering constantly at football and basketball games, at home and away at other schools.

If you're a cheerleader, make sure you:
  • stay on top of all your school work. Keep a planner and always update it so you know when you have upcoming tests, assignments due, and projects. If any school requirements interfere with cheer practice or a cheer event, inform your coach as soon as possible.

  • stay warm at evening games. Layer with body liners and wear warm-ups when you're not performing. It's the beginning of cold season and you want to stay as healthy as possible!

  • be as spirited as possible! Fall is a big season for school spirit, as there are big football games, Homecoming, and a lot of pep rallies.


If you're a coach, make sure you:
  • know the full football and basketball season schedule, including home and away games, and which ones your team is required to perform at.

  • have all the right cheer shoes for the sidelines, as well as body basics and warm-ups for chilly outside games.

  • save time to prepare for school events like pep rallies, Homecoming, and fundraisers. These may take time out of practice hours, so find ways to make up for the lost time!

  • are involved in your teammates' school responsibilities. Know when they have midterms coming up and when your team members will need extra time to study. If your cheerleaders don't make the grade, they can't cheer!

  • register and plan for competitions, if your team will be participating. This includes ensuring you have all uniforms, routines, music, and travel plans.


Winter
Even if you aren't competing, winter is a great time for your team to work on flexibility, stunting, and more advanced routines.

If you're a cheerleader, make sure you:
  • inform your coach ahead of time of any family vacations.

  • are aware of any upcoming competitions. If you are competing, spend extra time stretching and practicing at home.

  • think about tryouts in spring, especially if you'll be trying out for a different team.

  • don't just watch TV during winter break. Hit the gym, go jogging, or stretch while you watch a movie.


If you're a coach, make sure you:
  • have everything set for competition season, including uniforms, accessories, travel plans, etc.

  • know if any of your team members will be away on vacation during winter break and whether or not you'll be able to hold practice during the school break.

  • start thinking about tryouts, including when and where you'll hold them, how many team spots will be open, whether you'll require old members to tryout again, etc.

  • confirm that all of your team members surpassed the minimum required GPA to continue cheering the following semester. If any don't make the grade, plan on how to fill that team member's spot.


When you're part of the cheerleading world, there's never a dull moment. However, as long as you know what to expect each season -- and what you should plan for -- the busy schedules don't have to translate to hectic and stressful schedules.