Cheerleading is a dangerous sport, and having a coach without a background in cheer may make parents worried that their lack of experience can be detrimental to the cheerleaders and their safety. Due to cheerleading not being classified as a sport in some states, there is no regulation on safety, and anyone can become a cheerleading coach. If you want to be a coach in any other sport, you are required to take a class about coaching, have experience, and, in most cases, also be licensed in CPR and basic first aid. Since cheerleading lies in ‘sport’ limbo, some cheer squads do not require any of those requirements before hiring a coach. If you’re an aspiring cheer coach, don’t worry! You can definitely get the position you want without being an ex-cheerleader.

Safety always comes first–the safety of the squad is the most important thing! As a coach, things can and will go wrong if you don’t do your due diligence on basic sports medicine. Most cheerleading injuries could have been prevented if the coaches where properly trained, and safety standards were put in place. There is nothing more dangerous than an inexperienced coach trying to teach the squad some crazy stunt they found on YouTube. We all know from our personal DIY experiences that on the Internet, things look way easier than they are. You may not have the capability to judge the level of skill your squad has, and want to try something that your team is incapable of doing. Yes, stunting and tumbling is fun, but you need to know how to demonstrate correct form; otherwise, someone will get hurt, and could potentially end their cheerleading career. Thus, as a coach, you need to research basic motions, as well as put yourself through your own version of Tumbling 101. If you do, you’ll know where to accurately gauge your team on their skill set and ability.

Another concern parents may have is that a coach without experience may rely too much on the squad to come up with workouts and routines, which can be unfair to the team. Try to avoid relying on the older girls on the squad to come up with new material; they want to expand their skills, so don’t hinder them with extra work that should be your job.

If you’re trying to become a competitive coach, the odds are stacked even higher against you. Competitions are where scouts and recruiters see cheerleaders. Parents don’t want their child to miss out on a chance to get a scholarship, or to be seen by another team because you haven’t acquired the right knowledge to be a cheer coach. Although harder, being a competitive cheer coach is still possible without cheerleading experience. Like any other sport, cheerleading has rules. Learn them! You don’t want your team disqualified or for them to lose points on their routine due to a technicality. Know how to enter your team into the competitions (yes, there are deadlines and hoops to jump through!) and always figure out ahead of time how to qualify.

Cheerleading is a sport, and should be taken as seriously as any other sport. It is in the best interest of everyone if you learn as much as you can about cheerleading before getting involved, or interviewing for the position. Sports should be fun and hard work, but having a coach who does not know what to do is not going to be fun: it will be potentially dangerous, and frankly, a waste of money for participants. Are there coaches out there without experience? Of course. Are they all bad coaches? No. Make sure to be the inexperienced coach who exceeds expectations, and paves the way as an example for other potential coaches to follow.

Do you think a coach is required to have cheerleading experience? Tell us your opinion in the comments below!