A cheer squad is a family. This is one of the best things about cheerleading, but it makes changing teams or joining a new team especially hard. You probably feel like you’ll never get to know your new teammates as well as you did your former ones or that you’ll never fit in with the new teammates who are already close to each other—but that isn’t true! We all start as strangers. You were once at square one with your former team, and you’ll get to know this one just as well. These three tips can help you speed up the process so you’ll feel like part of a cheer family again in no time:

  1. Open up. The feeling of comfort you get from a close team comes from not feeling like you have to put on an act. Your old teammates know you because you are comfortable enough around them to be yourself. Show your new teammates who you really are. Even if you are naturally shy, try your best to open up to your new friends. Tell them about yourself, voice your opinions, and act like you do around close friends. This will speed up the process of becoming so close you’re family!

  2. Show interest. Getting comfortable with your new team isn’t just about you. Getting to know your teammates is just as important! Plus, showing an interest in them will show them that you care and want to be a part of the team. Ask them questions about themselves to help you get to know them. You can also show them that you care about getting to know them by being attentive. Giving them your attention when they speak, whether at practice or just hanging out, will let them know they are important to you and that you value what they have to say.

  3. Put in the time. Cheer practice is important, but being friends outside of the gym will help you as a squad and speed up the bonding process so you can go from strangers to family as fast as possible. When your teammates invite you to go out for frozen yogurt with them or to join them on any other fun outings, go if you can! It may be outside of your comfort zone at first if you are just meeting them, but it will help you get to know each other. Initiating a bonding experience can be a huge help, too. Hopefully your coach or captain will plan a team bonding event at the first of the season, but you can also invite your new friends over to your house or ask if anyone wants to meet up somewhere after practice or on a weekend.

Have you ever switched cheer teams and had to get to know your new teammates? What helped you?