You did it! You planned and prepped; you posted up fliers and recruited judges; you made tough decisions and had a vision turn into reality‚ you’ve created your team! Congratulations on pulling off successful tryouts (pause to pat yourself on the back). Now that that is out of the way, you probably think that was the last task on a long tryout list. Wrong. Next season has officially started, but not before you take these crucial final steps to bridge the gap between choosing a team and building one. It’s more than just posting names of who made the cut! Obviously, alerting who made the team is step one, but here are three more steps to take in order to round the rest of your bases before you slide into next season’s home plate. Don’t judge the metaphor‚ it’s almost baseball season. 1. Meet the parents. If you didn’t host a pre-tryout parent meeting, then you definitely need to host a briefing as soon as possible to get the cheer parents on the same page. Cheerleading is no small sport to sign up for, and new parents to cheer might not know everything that is about to be required of them! In this meeting, go over next season’s schedule, next season costs, and what’s expected as team decorum overall. Parents also need to know the best way to communicate with you, and the best mode to do so (text versus call versus email). You don’t want them all showing up with questions at practices or, worse, performances! By nipping the issue in the bud now, you’ll strengthen relationships with team parents right off the bat, not to mention how it’ll save you a lot of back-and-forth communication later. 2. Meet your team. Just like meeting with the parents, host a new team meet-and-greet before plunging right into practices! This way, the newly recruited cheerleaders to the squad have a chance to meet their teammates without the pressure to perform. And, along the lines of the parent meeting, outline what you expect out of your team: what you will and will not tolerate when it comes to attendance, digital devices, attitudes, etc. Tell your team members how you want them to treat each other, both on and off the mat or field, and let them know all the fun things you have in store for next season. However, their parents already have most of this information, so make this particular get-together fun! Plan some team-bonding games and activities that could break the ice between your squad members; make them step outside of their comfort zone, since they will anyway with stunts and tumbles soon! 3. Get the information you need. OK‚ everybody now knows each other and the overall agenda. Now you need to collect on some things, most notably SIZES. Team orders need to be done in advance no matter if you’re ordering in-stock or custom cheer items, so get that hammered out now and get gear on the way before your season even starts! Even fill-in orders can cause headaches if you’re scrambling for new cheerleader sizes. So, to avoid being unprepared if you see that your favorite cheer gear retailer announces a short-term sale, include a slot for sizing information right on the contact form as part of team initiation. Hand out these forms (with a strict deadline!!) to the parents when you first meet them, and make it known that it’s high priority paperwork. What are other next steps that cheer coaches have to take once tryouts are over? What worked for your team? Tell us in the comments!
Parents. I love you all, even if I do not know you. Without you, I wouldn’t have any precious gems to coach. You are the backbone of our sport, and all that we do. However, sometimes your back just hurts.
Please bear with me on this one. It’s going to be honest, and it will be kind of long, but there are just some things I need you to understand. When I decided that I wanted to be a blogger, I went in as myself. I am honest, I am raw, and I refuse to sugarcoat. As I have stated previously, I am fueled on emotions, and I get it‚ the truth stings sometimes. Here is a prime case: we, as writers, and we, as coaches, want you to see the positive; we will tell you everything that you WANT to hear, but not everything you sometimes
need to hear. This is where I come in, and, once again, I wear my villain crown with pride.
1. Do not befriend us in hopes to score brownie points for your cheerleader(s). It’s not fair, and it is not right. I reluctantly trust everyone until you burn me one time. Fool me once, shame on you. We are here, and
we would LOVE to have a fantastic relationship with you! We want to answer your questions; we want to be able to vent to you with confidence that you understand that we sometimes say things out of
emotion. Unfortunately, we run across hard lessons in life. Those we felt were actually friends turned out to be a snake in the grass‚ only there out of convenience, and in the hopes that any flaw to their cheerleader will be masked by a coach’s “loyalty’ to the parents. These parents do not take into account that the only people we are entitled to be loyal to is our team, and our team alone. What they don’t realize is if I don’t play favorites with my own daughters, I am certainly not going to with yours!
2. We do things in the best interest of the team. Is there an “I’ in there? Am I supposed to be an “I’ in the word “team’? No, I don’t think so. As coaches, it is our job to do everything in our power to get our athletes where the need to be, and sometimes, that takes sacrifices.
We DO know what we are doing. We more than likely know about the sport more than you do, or else the roles would be reversed. We are able to see every cheerleader for everything they are‚ every fault and every strength. We put your children in the positions where they will SHINE. It’s best for the team, and in the end, best for your child. We don’t take them out of a stunt or prime spot to spite you, or to make your pride and joy feel irrelevant. They do play a very large part in their team. The team fails and succeeds as one. If you don’t understand, ask. We will usually respectfully explain anything to you in hopes that you understand. If you don’t, I mean‚ sorry??
3. Your athlete is a reflection of YOU. With every move we make as a parent, our child watches. Kids take in valuable life lessons from their parents that will set them up for adulthood. You throwing a temper tantrum because little Susie isn’t front and center is sending what kind of message? When you bad talk us, we know by the way they treat us, or by the fact that they will be the first to say, “my mom said this about you, and I don’t think you’re that bad. ” OH!
Life lessons. I love these: there are approximately seven billion people in this great big world of ours. Yes, your athlete is the sun in your life. No one is better than them‚ in your eyes. I would never put down a kid, and it’s downright frustrating when YOU do it to other people’s kids. You may not do it directly, but the message is received when you yell and holler that your kid is the best cheerleader on the team. Again, there are strengths and faults to all of the cheerleaders. We, the coaches, know their strengths, and we see their faults. We hide those faults so you don’t see them in anything other than a perfect light. Harsh maybe. But, it’s the truth. Quitting. If you choose to pull your athlete off the team a week (or a day) before a competition, you better have a better reason other than you just didn’t get your way. You’re teaching them it’s okay to quit; it’s okay to give up. It may be okay to you, but we are the ones that piece together the rest of the team that you ultimately let down. You knowingly or unknowingly put your daughter in the middle of childish behavior, because
“the big. bad coach’ said words you didn’t want to hear. You are not hurting me, you are hurting their teammates, and you are hurting your own child as they continue to see all the fun their team had without them, as well as possibly breaking any friendship they made along the way. I am protective. If you hurt my cheerleaders, you now have me to deal with me, and I will remember for future years the pain you caused them. It may be a temporary pain, because they soon realize that it will be okay, but nonetheless unnecessary pain.
4. As an adult, we have to earn everything. In school it’s the same. Guess what, it’s the same in cheerleading, as well as any other sport. It doesn’t matter if your athlete is the greatest on that team‚ their spots are NEVER secure. Remember, there is a difference between confidence and cockiness: confidence is something you work to keep, and I have found those who are cocky slack off with the mindset they aren’t going anywhere because “no one is better than them’. LOL‚ not on my team, nor anyone else’s that I speak to!
I will always reward the cheerleader that works their butt off at every practice, and the ones that you can tell went home and practiced. To me, that’s strength. They want it, they want that win, and they want to improve and prove to themselves that they can do it. How could you not reward them for it? Hard work pays off. Hard work is more valuable than “loyalty’. The only safe person is the one who fights for their spots, week in and week out. At all costs, through the tears and sweat, there are ones that never give up.
5. Realize we love your child. Again, I am only speaking on behalf of a small percentage of coaches out there, but we seriously do. We are probably more proud of them than you are. We have seen it all, seen where they started and all the progress in between. It’s just magical to watch, and be a part of it. I know I don’t want to have any problems with parents because of the love I have for your children. No good coach would ever put your child in harm’s way, or embarrass them. However, we have to think of them as
all, not just one. Please, respect us. Please come to us kindly, and ask any questions. Communicate: tell me what you don’t like, but respect our final decision if we take the time to explain it to you. Show us the same respect that we show you. Grow with us, learn with us, be a part of everything with us, no matter what. Stop stamping us as “bad guys’ because we don’t view any one child as the sun of the team. The team is a galaxy. If you deliberately choose to be one of “those parents’, take a step back and evaluate if team sports are for you. Keyword, YOU. Your child is probably more than capable of being a productive member of a team, but you aren’t. Allow them to see if they are able to, allow them to live their own life without mom or dad reliving their childhood through them. And, by all means, if you think you can do it better than us, step up and do it. Instead of being that nagging parent,
become a coach.
Can you relate? Tell us in the comments!
I have touched on the importance of sportsmanship a few times in this writing journey, but I’ve never gone into detail. The dictionary’s definition of sportsmanship is, “conduct (as fairness, respect for one’s opponent, and graciousness in winning or losing); becoming to one participating in a sport. ” Respect for one’s opponent, ya know, that enemy rival team that sometimes you beat and sometimes they beat you. That team that sometimes gives you an odd feeling in the pit of your stomach. Here’s the deal‚ you must beat the best to be the best. Instead of dreading the thought of them, and going “ugh (insert eye roll) ” the moment you see their colors, try a little positivity.
It’s easy to look for the negative, it is. True skill is searching for the positive in every negative, and once you train your mind to always recognize it, the easier it becomes. I know the excuses; I have used them myself. “If they weren’t in the competition we would have won.’ Is that winning though? Not by my book. If you are competing against no one, you aren’t competing; you are essentially an exhibition team, and where is the fun in that? Same rules apply with a team that is better than you at the present moment.
We all have the ability to be the best‚ it just comes down to the work you put into it. As you sit there, griping about how easy it comes for them, realize it probably doesn’t. They could just want it more than you, could have trained longer and more often than you. That’s a hard fact for us coaches to sometimes swallow. Yet, taking the easy road and praying for them not to be there got you where?
This sport is a competition; it’s the very air that we breathe. We live for this, train for this, and odds are, you don’t realize that your biggest competition is yourself. With that being said, why do you continue to talk negatively about other teams in front of your team? That same team that mimics your every move, your mirrors, your shadows. You, as a coach or as a parent, are sculpting their very minds, training them to be the adults they will become. Talking down on a team that scored higher than you doesn’t say anything about the other team, but it does say everything about your own character. We are all trying our best to create, mold, and shape our teams into unstoppable forces of nature. That and the love for the sport, and the passion we have is something we ALL have in common. For example, two years ago, my team was in a constant back-and-forth battle with another certain team. We broke the typical mold of our organizations, and finally decided to say, “we will get you next time. ” That next time came, we hugged it out and a beautiful friendship formed as a result. A person that I admire, adore, and am beyond grateful for started from a feud. Although she is on an opposing team, she has helped me in so many ways. We even talk on a regular occasion; her wins are my wins and my wins are her wins. We pick each other up and vent when needed. We have shared more laughs than I could have ever imagined. We celebrate victories, and strategize how to come back from defeats. It’s a journey we chose to take together, regardless of the long-standing hatred our teams share. However, our cheerleaders see how we bond and how we laugh, and it makes them do the same. Not just to each other, but other teams from organizations everywhere. It’s helping them build character, and showing them that the only person that can stand in their way is themselves. Without her, I would have gone insane, and I do wish everyone to have a bond with a rival team because at the end of the day, they may help you more than you could have ever imagined. They may just turn out to be an amazing person with a heart of gold who you can call a friend.
So, wish the group in front of you good luck. Cheer for other teams’ victories, and hug them when they’re crying because their routine didn’t go as planned. Add a little kindness to this world full of hatred. And, please‚ STOP unscrewing another person’s lightbulb so that you can shine.
What do you think about cheerleading sportsmanship? Let us know your experiences in the comments!
You did it! You and your cheerleaders finally qualified to level up on the mat. It’s an exhilarating feeling that you have the talent and drive to accomplish taking on more complicated stunts and routines the next time you head to a competition. However, after the initial victory dance wears off, you realize what exactly this transition entails‚ a lot more hard work! You’re hanging with the big dogs now, so you have to start being able to hold your own on the mat. Your cheerleaders are up for the challenge, so now it’s up to you to take your routines farther than you ever have before‚ without hurting anybody, of course! While your imagination is running wild with possibilities, here are a few things to keep in mind while you adjust.
1. You have some rules to learn. You know your last division’s rules like the back of your hand, but now, you have a different set of regulations to follow! Before you do any planning for next season, make sure the stunts you’ve always envisioned for your team are even allowed before you find out if they are doable. Obviously, most of the safety rules are going to stay the same no matter if you’re a Level 3, a Level 5, or your team falls somewhere in between; just make sure you don’t cost your team any extra points throughout the season by doing your due diligence ahead of time.
2. You just plummeted from the top of the ladder in one division, to the bottom rung of another. Even though you and your cheerleaders have earned your team’s new title, you earned it because you were just too dang good in your last division. That means, the competitions you had in the bag last year are now anyone’s game! If you’re accustomed to winning most of the time, it could be a harsh reality that you have to lose a few as you learn the ropes. Pertaining to other teams, you may have had a sneak peak watching some of them last year as you waited for your division to be called, but keep in mind that teams change season to season, and they too could have increased their skill set! Keep your eye on the prize, and remember it’s a learning process!
3. Don’t get too down on yourself. You’ve had ideas for routines for the longest time, but haven’t been able to put them in motion‚ until now! However, some things like base strength, flexibility, and just plain gravity get in the way of having your ideas spring to life. If what you thought was going to work didn’t, you have to remain positive and pull your team out of a funk by getting creative. You also may be discouraged about bouncing back after a losing streak, thinking that you should have just kept your team at the level they were at‚ why did you push for more?? At those times, a coach has to remember that without progress, there’s stagnancy, and the whole point your cheerleaders got into the sport is to push themselves to be the best they can be. It’s hard to shake off a loss, but doing so will only push you to be better prepared for next time!
4. Seek counsel from other coaches. The last thing to keep in mind is that every cheer coach started off lower on the proverbial totem pole than they are now ‚ just like you! Make acquaintances with coaches in your new division, and ask for their advice on transitioning fluidly. Who knows? You may receive the advice you need!
How else can cheer coaches adjust to a new cheer competition level? What worked for you? Share your tips in the comments!
Taking a group of sideline cheerleaders and helping them understand the world of competitive cheer is no easy feat: I’ve seen some of the best athletes question their very love of the sport once they saw the hard work and dedication that goes into cheering competitively. It could be the fact that they just watched their season go from just a few months and a few Saturday nights to almost three quarters of the year with practices and competitions. Or, that the two hour football game that they once cheered at now turned into a daylong spectacle, with preparations beginning as early as first light.
But, I’m here to tell you that it does not have to be that stressful! From a mother that had to teach her daughter to be a sideline cheerleader after five years of cheering competitively (which, for the record, I think is much harder), it’s just about setting expectations right off the bat.
First, before I even have my first practice as a coach, I always a conduct a mandatory meeting for the parents. I’ve learned that no matter what, the parents will always be the backbone for the love of the sport. If you have the parents on board, the child will be too. I walk into that meeting with a detailed layout of my expectations, practice schedules, practice expectations, tentative competition schedules, and competition expectations. I refuse to leave anything for the imagination, because their imagination is usually not as half as in depth of what the sport really entails. And, that’s where you can get into trouble: you have to remember that these parents have also been a part of their child’s sideline cheerleading experience, and they are just as used to only being at a handful of football games and transporting them to practices for a just a few months. Lay it all out on the line, and if the parents see your passion, they will follow you wholeheartedly.
Next, I get the team together. We don’t meet at the gym. We don’t practice. They don’t even have to come in sneakers. I just get them together. I let them introduce themselves, we’ll do a few team-building exercises, and then I break down what will take place for the season. I explain everything: the vigorous practices, the long competition days, the even longer practices leading up to competition days, and the passion that they will need for the sport. Most of all, I teach them to become a family. I’ve learned that if they look at each other as part of their “cheer family’, they will do everything in their power to work hard for that family and to succeed for that family. After that meeting, we no longer refer to each other as team members, but as each other’s cheer brother or sister. And, they will remain each other’s cheer brother or sister long after our season ends. Competing together is a bond that barely ever breaks!
Last season, I started out with 27 recreation football cheerleaders, and only four of them had ever stepped onto a competition floor before. We worked as hard as we could, as many long hours as we could, we built a mutual respect for one another and for the sport, and though we set a goal just to place in our competitions, our mini team wound up taking first place at local competitions and our junior team took 2nd place at a national competition‚ beating out several experienced and established teams! It all went back to setting expectations.
You will always have the sideline cheerleaders that just want to be sideline cheerleaders, and that’s okay. They enjoy doing it for the smiles, to get the crowd pumped, and cheering on their school teams. But, then you find those that want to be competition cheerleaders; they will learn how amazing this sport is. They’ll love the lights, the glitter, the hairspray, the adrenaline, and the two minutes and thirty seconds that they get to leave it all on the mat. And, if you get to win a few trophies, that doesn’t hurt either.
In the end, if you can say‚ as a parent‚ that your child finished the season because they fell in love with the sport, then you’ve done your job, wholeheartedly.
New seasons are always rough, and for coaches, there’s usually some trial and error involved. What you saw at tryouts was the first indication if your vision for next season‚ you know, the one you’ve been thinking about for the past year over LAST season‚ might actually become a reality. You will be moving and shaking up spots, stunt groups, and even skill levels; you might have to push some returning cheerleaders harder than the year before. But, bottom line, the only way to grow your team is to get innovative. A new team means there are new possibilities to consider, new options that weren’t available to you until now! However, it may be hard to get creative facing changes head-on, so here are three things that might make the transition a little easier.
1. Embrace your new members. You might have lost your top flier or your best tumbler to aging out or leveling up, but that doesn’t mean you’ve lost more than you gained. You caught a glimpse into the skills of your new members at tryouts: now it’s time to see what they really can do! Move around the floor plan. You’ve had a routine in mind‚ how can you craft it? Start small, like brushing up on the basics at the first couple of practices, and take note on which new members are sharper, stronger, and more flexible. With the right encouragement and exercise regimen, you can boost these new members into the roles you need!
2. Don’t scrap last season altogether. Just because new doors are opening doesn’t mean that you can discard last year’s team dynamic for the bigger and better. You’ve had a lot of cheerleaders carry over from last season, and they are accustomed to their stunt group, their spot, their friendships. As a coach, you want to make them the best cheerleaders they can be, but you also don’t want them to get discouraged or upset if you separate them from their team BFF. Coaches have to make the tough calls sometimes, but a good rule of thumb is, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,”‚ if it worked before, let it be! EVERYTHING doesn’t need to change.
3. Realize you actually have to adjust to two new teams. With a new group of cheerleaders on your team, that means you have a brand new set of parents to work with off the mat. Staying on good terms with parents is important, and cheer parents are especially hands-on! Make sure you let new parents to the team know when, where, and how they can communicate with you, and what they can do to help the team over the season. Cheerleading can be an intimidating activity to dive into headfirst, so make sure new parents feel welcome, reassured, and in the know at all times. Be transparent, friendly, and understanding! There’s also that moment when last year’s parents find out that their kids are no longer front and center when you’re forced to shake up the routine to include new members: stay calm, explain the logic behind your decisions, and stay true to your convictions. Whether you like it or not, you’re the team mediator in more ways than one, so always try to remain approachable for both your team members and their parents.
What else can cheer coaches keep in mind to make adjusting to a new team dynamic more fluid? Share what worked for your team!
You’re a cheer coach. You have a vision of your team, and a dream of how far they can go. You never want to acknowledge the negatives, the disadvantages, and the potential setbacks for next season‚ or, shoot, for next competition! But, unfortunately, it’s all part of the job. Yes, of course there are seasons when your team absolutely ROCKS it, and is so fluid together; that season, every part of the routine hits, and you bring home the big wins. The problem is, you never know if you have that season until it starts up, and the first indication of where your team may land on that winning spectrum is at tryouts.
Walking into tryouts, you’re going to see most of the same faces, so it’s not like you’re going to skyrocket to the top if you had a mediocre season the year before‚ but you never know! That’s why they say “there’s always next year’. Well, next year is officially starting, and the missing link to your routine may just saunter in through the door to join the team. Anticipating nothing and everything at the same time is hard‚ and, when you really get down to decision time, it gets even tougher.
Sometimes, you’re faced with choices that pull at your heartstrings. For instance, newcomers might unexpectedly outperform returning cheerleaders at tryouts: all of a sudden, these shoo-in team members are looking more like waitlisted participants. If you’ve developed relationships with these cheerleaders over time, the last thing you want to do is tell them that they aren’t going to be welcomed back‚ especially if they’ve done nothing wrong!
You really want to be the “good guy’, to make your team happy, and be able to sleep at night, but you know deep down that you have to do what’s best for the team overall. It’s your job to wear the black hat, and give spots to the cheerleaders that deserve it.
Another situation that cheer coaches face is choosing between siblings and close friendships depending on skill level. This happens a lot when cheer coaches head up two or more competitive level teams. Does this sound familiar? You had a set of siblings on the same team last year, but over the last season, one advanced their skills a little more than the other. You now want to place one your level 5 team versus your level 4, splitting the siblings up. The
parents might not understand the call, drama might spin out to other team parents, and the kid that was left on the lower level team might not understand. Tough call. In these kinds of situations, you, as a coach, have to stand strong in your convictions, and do what’s right for the success of both teams. If team parents demand explanations, remind them that you’re trying to place both of their children winning teams: the lower level team will benefit with their child as a lead, and the higher level team will give the other child exposure to what it takes to shine eventually. Break it down for them like any other sport‚ would you rather be a starter on a JV-level team, or benched on a Varsity team? Cheer routines demand perfect execution, and
the last thing you want is to jump the gun on a young cheerleader’s skill level and get them injured.
Tryouts are no easy feat, and
you’ve probably been planning them for months! The only thing you can’t plan for is your heartstrings, and you better believe that they are going to be pulled in some way or another. So, harden up that coaching shell of yours, flex those decision-making muscles of yours, and try to make the most out of drafting your next season.
What are other tough calls cheer coaches have to make during tryouts? Share your experiences with us!
Finding motivation can be very difficult for even the most driven person. Look at New Year’s resolutions‚ less than 10% of people actually keep their resolutions a year. That means that over 90% of people lose their motivation to keep doing something they really want to do, or change. If over 90% of adults cannot stay motivated, how are you going to keep your cheerleading team motivated throughout the year? Here are a few ideas on how to keep your team motivated throughout the year.
1. Use the New Year as a motivational tool. Most people make New Year’s resolutions, but fail to achieve them because their resolutions are too much too fast. Sit down with each member of your squad, and help them make obtainable individual goals for the year. Then, go the extra step by mapping out a coarse for them to obtain those goals! In doing so, it helps your individual cheerleaders grow, and your team expand their skill set. You can also create one team goal. This is great for new squads: it helps the team come together, and encourages teamwork and team-building.
2. Use the buddy system for accountability. Some of your squad members may have similar goals, which is great! Having a “buddy’ helps you stay accountable and motivated. If one member of the team loses motivation, their buddy can bring them back up, and keep them on track to achieve their goal. Your rate of success increases by having a buddy, and plus, you are having fun hanging out with your friend, so it does not feel like work!
3. Use incentives as recognition. This can be a bit controversial, for some studies out there say that incentives don’t always work. Personally, I think all of us like to be at least acknowledged for our accomplishments! It makes you feel special, proud of the work you have done, and happy that someone took the time to notice. Incentives don’t have to be money; they can be anything you want them to be! You can create awards for squad members who have completed their individual goals, and if you have a gym, create a “Super Star wall’. Some gyms ring a bell for cheerleaders who just accomplished something, and have them perform their new stunt in front of the entire squad as their teammates cheer them on. Incentives can be big or small: just keep in mind that incentives are to make your team members feel good about themselves, and what they have accomplished.
4. Use friendly competition to stay on track. Tread lightly here: if your team gets a little too competitive, this may not be the route for you. Friendly competition can quickly turn mean, and you do not want your team divided! But, if you think your team works well with a little competition, you can split your squad into two teams, and have the teams race to complete their goals first. Again, this really depends on your squad‚ you do not want your team doing risky moves, or trying stunts too quickly that can cause injury. Instead, team some of your new members up with team veterans to compete on who can come up with a new cheer routine, or new chant first. This can be a way to have new squad members meet returning cheerleaders, and in turn, learn new skills and make new friends by working with them.
5. Use a change of scenery to revamp. If you practice inside a gym all year round, take your cheerleaders outside on a nice summer day, or to the beach for a cardio day. A change of scenery can really pick up the team morale and motivation. Plus, doing something fun and new with your team is a simple way to keep them happy.
Staying motivated is difficult, but making simple changes to your normal cheer practice can keep your cheerleaders on their toes, and excited about coming to practice. Cheers to having a great year, and keeping your team on track!
What else can cheer coaches do to achieve team goals? What worked for your squad? Share your experience in the comments!
Grades can be the reason your team starts to dwindle in numbers. Coaches, and of course cheerleaders, start to feel anxiety and stress as the dreaded grade check comes around the corner, especially when a competition is fast approaching! At the school I coach for, the athletes are required to
maintain a 2.0 GPA or higher, and must not have an F on their report card to continue participation. Many of the athletes will argue their teachers did not input all of their grades in time, thus resulting in ineligibility. I am constantly reminding cheerleaders to politely ask teachers to get their papers scored, and put into the system so there are no arguments with the athletic director later. I have come up with a few ideas to lessen the burden of grade checks, possibly improve how your cheerleaders perform in school, and maintain numbers on your squad.
1. Have mandatory study sessions. This is something new my team will try in the upcoming year. Tuesdays are their early release days: the students are dismissed at 1:30PM, and practice begins at 3PM. For the first half-hour, I give them freedom to change and hang out with friends for a bit; for the last hour (2PM-3PM), they are required to get together with their teammates and work on homework in the school library. This is not only a great time for the team to bond, but also a time for younger athletes to ask the upper-classmen for help if they need it. Homework will be directly in front of them in hopes to get at least
some of it finished. Instead of over an hour and half of wasted time, they can now do something productive for both cheerleading and school performance. Captains will take attendance. Anyone who does not show up for
study time will have to take an unexcused absence, and complete it during practice, which they must attend.
2. Have your own grade check. If given permission by your school, make your own grade check template. I do not work at their school during the daytime, so it makes it hard for me to check on all of their grades. The athletic director is typically very busy and is not often available for me to go into the office for grade check meetings. Instead, I have my own chart that lists the athlete’s name, their class subject, their grade for that class, and the teacher signature. This way, if the teacher has not input all their grades but knows they are passing, he/she can write in the letter grade and sign it verifying they are eligible. I also have a place for notes! If the teacher would like to leave me a note about my athlete (maybe they are disrupting class a lot, missing class, or are often tardy), then I can address these concerns at practice and let the athlete know that school comes first, and if he/she cannot behave properly in class, they are not welcome to participate in cheerleading activities.
3. Encourage tutoring. The high school I coach for offers
tutor time after school for students who need it. I have, many times, encouraged my athletes to take up this opportunity. Often times, they develop a great relationship with their teacher and watch their grades improve as a result.
4. Give incentives! This year, we plan to use a merit/demerit system. After each grade check, the athlete who maintains their GPA of
2.0 or higher will receive a merit. If the athlete has A/B Honor Roll at the time of grade check, they will receive two merits. At the end of each season, the athlete with the most merits will receive a gift card to the place of their choice.
Talk to teachers. This is important! Having open communication with teachers will help you stay up-to-date on your athletes’ progress in class. By knowing if an athlete is failing because they are simply not finishing or turning in homework, you can offer better advice and can possibly end the problem. If you know a student is failing because they are legitimately struggling in the subject, then you can offer help or advise them to seek tutoring. Knowing your athletes is the best way to help them. Get to know the lazy ones from the o
nes who try but are just struggling. Understand what motivates them to maintain those grades, and what options they have available to them.
Grades are important. As coaches, we not only have the responsibility to run effective practices, maintain team unity, and look good during performances, but also we need to encourage our leaders to perform well in school. Getting bad grades will affect them in many ways‚ including cheerleading. Ultimately if the student cannot pass a class, they cannot be on your team. It will affect you and the whole squad in the end.
How else can cheer coaches encourage their cheerleaders to perform well in school? Share your tips in the comments!
Competition season doesn’t end. We all know this. And, it’s no cakewalk for anyone involved‚ be that the parents, the coaches, the judges, and especially, the cheerleaders themselves! Coaching cheerleading means juggling a lot, and in the depths of competition season, things can get out of whack quick. Coaches traverse a tightrope for their teams, with their sanity swaying in the balance, in efforts to accomplish everything that needs to be done in a timely manner. From ordering, travel, finances, routines, scheduling, community events, practices, and everything in between, we wanted to know what is the most challenging part of coaching competitive cheer.
We asked in our January poll just that. Here’s what real competitive cheer coaches said:
- Winning by a landslide, at 37%, is the fact that competitive cheer coaches have to keep “thinking of new routines “. And, it’s not like the other teams didn’t JUST SEE YOU perform your routine at the last competition; unique cheerleading routines and motions are hard to come by, and even harder to protect. Stealing is a big issue in cheerleading, so for the coaches that put in the time and effort to think of creative new ways to present your team on the mat, we commend you!
- Coming in at second place, at 19%, is the fact that competitive cheerleading lands smack dab in the center of a coach’s life. Therefore, “juggling it with my job/family ” is a common woe for most cheer coaches. It’s hard to divide your time in such a way that not all parties suffer: if you are spread too thin, you are not really present for anyone‚ let alone yourself and your loved ones! Make sure you take the time to cherish your relationships in the midst of any competition season, if you have to schedule time with others like you do your team practices.
- Voted in at third most challenging competitive cheerleading aspect is the fact that cheerleading isn’t cheap! Attending competitions means including a large travel and accommodation bill to any cheer coach’s budget. So, getting creative is key, and that’s probably why 18% of cheer coaches voted “fundraising to keep the team afloat “.
- With all the ups come the downs, and sometimes, a competition just doesn’t go your way in the slightest. 17% of voters know this all too well, and chose “dealing with a loss ” as the hardest part of the job description. Don’t worry, you’ll get it next time!
- The least chosen answer was “traveling ” at 9%. Traveling to some, especially the some that still needs to fundraise, can really cause a headache. And, that’s before you board a bus or plane alongside a team of young, nervous, excited, sugared-up athletes. But, traveling isn’t all that bad‚ especially if your destination is Disney World!
See the full results of the poll below, and don’t forget to vote in our February poll that is now live on our blog homepage!
Did the results surprise you? Tell us your thoughts!