Whether your team voted for you or the coach selected you (or if you're still in the process of trying out!), becoming captain of your cheer squad is a big deal. You were selected because you represent a cheerleading role model; as a captain, you have a lot more responsibility than just knowing your routine and stunts. You're there to lead your fellow teammates by example; to help your coach; and to always be the motivator, the inspiration, and the spirit-booster. In order to be a great captain for your squad, you should have these five key leadership skills:

  1. Passion. This is a must-have. You have to be passionate about cheerleading in order to succeed as a captain. As a cheerleader, you already dedicated endless numbers of hours to cheer. As a captain, you'll spend even more time doing and thinking about cheer, after and before practice, with the coach, and at home.

  2. Organization. Every leader needs to be organized. You should always have practice, game, and competition schedules memorized or on hand. Keep a daily planner with you (or download a planner app on your phone) and update it often. If a holiday is approaching, make sure you know if the coach plans on still holding practice. If any payments or paperwork is due soon, remind your teammates. As a captain, the coach is expecting you to help her with her tasks and reminders.

  3. Responsibility. As a leader, you are ultimately responsible for your team. If your coach thinks the team is slacking, it is your responsibility to motivate them to pump it up and work harder. You can't point the finger and blame individual teammates; take the responsibility and show your coach that you get your squad back in tip-top shape!

  4. Communication. A great captain is an honest communicator. Is the rigorous practice schedule taking a toll on the squad? Are a few teammates falling behind in school? Has the coach been harder than usual on the team? Many of your teammates will come to you for advice and solutions. You're one of them so they may feel more comfortable talking to you than the coach. While you might be intimidated yourself, it's ultimately up to you to speak with the coach and let her know the truth. Let her know if the practice schedule is too hectic or if some of the teammates are worried about grades.

  5. Ability to Inspire. It's up to the captain to keep the team positive, upbeat, and spirited! Take a few moments to speak with your squad before or after practice or a game. Inspire them with motivational words of encouragement; let them know when they're doing a great job; congratulate them on achievements. This can greatly boost your team's morale and, in general, make practice a lot more fun!

What other traits do you think makes a great captain? Have you ever been a captain or are you hoping to become one?