With programs struggling to support their basic needs, fundraising becomes the first topic at team meetings. It takes more than rummage sales and car washes to make up the difference to help parents pay for the cheer activities their kids want to participate in. The amounts parents have to raise varies: are you raising funds to just pay for athletic gear, or are you trying to raise funds to compete out of state? Often times, teams and coaches have to make sacrifices. And, as coaches, we usually pick the “easy ” fundraisers, yet those fundraisers do not yield high profits. We choose the fundraisers to just get them done; they become time-consuming as a result. Ask any coach‚ fundraising is the quickest way to burnout. Bottom line, it’s time to rethink fundraising, and get creative. To help ensure your fundraisers are successful, here are some things to consider when planning out fundraising events. Purpose/goal. Before doing anything else, you must decide what the purpose or goal is. Is your fundraiser set for individual athletes or team needs? What is the amount needed? These areas are all common and basic, but there is another purpose to consider when planning fundraising events: gaining publicity, or reaching out to a new network. Many events have more than one goal. Figuring out the details for your event will depend on knowing what goals you are trying to achieve. So, what is your financial goal? How much money are you trying to raise? The amount you choose should be what you hope to net‚ that is, the amount you plan to raise after expenses are deducted. Look for profit margins that balance out the amount of work that has to be done. Volunteers/profit. Having the right people helping with your fundraiser can make or break the event. Not only will your helpers actually be running your event, but are integral to ensuring that you reach your fundraising goals. Do not be afraid to ask for help, as well as accepting help. With that out of the way, there really is only one thing that can make or break the success of your event‚ what to sell. What will be the product that sends your event into the rafters? Selling candy in a neighborhood that is surrounded by schools might not be successful or profitable, as there probably are half a dozen programs doing the same thing. Look at your geographical area to figure out what will work for you. Selling discount cards will not work in outlying rural areas as they would in the inner city. If you are going to use online funding groups, make sure you do your research on how much they keep, as in hidden costs. Once you find the perfect product for your program, it is time to start setting up your event. Marketing. After all your planning and research to host the “perfect’ fundraising event, without good marketing, all that work would be for nothing. Getting the word out about your event is what will make your event a success. You need to convince your supporters that your event is worthy of their time and money. Draw up a marketing plan for the event, or how you are to go about “getting the word out’. You do not want to advertise too early, or too late. On average, 2-3 weeks advance marketing is a good rule of thumb; just make sure that you are updating or changing out any advertising as you go. Saying thank you. Often, one of the most heard complaints from fundraising contributors is, “They never even said “thank-you.’ ” Ditto for your volunteers. Make sure to take the time to send thank you notes to everyone who was involved in your event. Keep your donors happy‚ you’re probably going to be asking them for another donation sometime down the road! I’ve talked with coaches from all over the U.S.‚ representing programs in rural areas with absolutely zero funding, to ones who coach inner city programs that are funded, but still have little resources‚ and there is one common statement that I have heard over and over again. What is it, you ask? “I have run out of creative ideas for fundraisers, ” or, “I need a fundraiser that no one has done before. ” I have done it all‚ selling products to candy to discount books, I have found there to be more work than reward. Running car washes, I have found that the kids like these more than the coaches or parents. These types of fundraisers can be good team events, but small reward for individuals. Let me share some fundraising ideas to spark some creativity in you as you choose your next fundraising event: Reserved parking spaces. Selling parking spaces for football games works great for most parents! Make signs with the sponsors’ name on them, and putting them up before game time will make fundraiser participants happy they donated. Now, obviously, you will want to work with your athletic department and get permission to do so. But, what a great thing for anyone to have their own space to park in‚ Rent an athlete. This can be a tricky one, but can often result in additional donations. Rent out your athletes to do odd jobs for donors, just make sure you set standards of what they will and will not do ahead of time. Local marathons. By far one of the easiest events to do, with little work and a good return, is participating in local marathons. Connect with companies that host marathons, and often times, they pay volunteers to work their events. Or, host your own! Jamba Juice. This is a great fundraiser for schools, and you make 50% profit! Jamba Juice helps teams and schools reach their fundraising goals. What’s even better about this option is that smoothies meet school nutrition standards, and let’ be honest, kids love them‚ Get creative, ask for help, plan out your event, but most of all, make it fun for your athletes and families! Do you have other fundraising ideas? Let us know what worked for your team in the comments!
One of the biggest challenges that many coaches and parents face at the start of every cheer season is overcoming unexpected budget cuts. Usually, cheerleading has little to no funding from schools, which means participation is mostly out-of-pocket at the expense of the parents. When the small amount of money that is afforded to cheer teams gets sliced even further, team sacrifices have to be made. Coaches have to really weigh decisions, like canceling cheer camp (or changing its location), shopping around for the most affordable cheer gear deals, getting a cheer custom look without the custom price tag, and really upping team fundraising efforts. As stressful as all of this sounds, there are many ways to work through budget cuts. Knowing where to cut corners and save a few extra bucks is all about making a solid game plan, starting early, and shopping smart.
Setting a realistic budget and knowing how much you can spend for the year or the season is something you should be brainstorming about well before the cheer season even begins. Your budget should always be in the back of your mind while shopping. It will help deter you from making any impulsive purchases. Making a list of the items you need versus what want not only will help you stick to your budget, but will also assist in keeping you well organized. One of the best parts of making a list of your wants and needs, is that once the items that are absolutely needed are purchased and taken care of, you already have your list of extra accessories and wanted items on standby.
When shopping around for deals or promotions, keep an eye out for companies who offer packages. From uniforms to warmups to practice wear, some companies offer package deals. By buying more, you can spend less and actually save! Usually a package includes at least one whole “look’ or outfit‚ a full set of warmups, two sets of practice wear, a uniform skirt and top, and bodyliner. Additionally, a package may include a free gift, like socks or briefs, or some other item as incentives for purchasing packages as opposed to individual items. Packages are great options for coaches purchasing for an entire team. Some popular packages are camp wear packages, accessory packages, uniform packages, and, of course, warmup packages.
A great way to save and have a completely custom look without going over your budget is opting for sublimation. Sublimated uniforms and warmups are completely customized to fit your needs. Everything from the design, to colors, to logos are completely customizable. Some companies even offer introductory specials and packages for these items as well. A good way to get some insight on these promos and deals is to shop companies that guarantee the lowest prices; companies that offer such a guarantee will list the details on their website, or even their social media accounts. You can also try signing up for email clubs. That way, you are immediately notified when deals and promotions are announced!
Lastly, I cannot stress enough the importance of fundraising! Fundraising is an important aspect to any cheer squad. Being creative while also picking the best time to fundraise will gain you the most earnings for your squad. Many squads use fundraisers such as, scratch-off donation cards, and have had a lot of success with them! Fun”d”2Raise makes cards that supporters scratch off to reveal how much they will donate to your squad. The amounts range from $0.75 to $3.00‚ which is convenient because many people will have that amount in their pocket! It might not seem like a huge amount, but each completed card brings in $250.00 for your team, and they only cost $5.00 each. You could do these on their own, or use them at another fundraiser you already have planned‚ like a car wash or bake sale.
Bottom line: don’t let budget cuts ruin your next cheer season. You have options!
Have you worked through budget cuts? What are your tips for other coaches or parents who are facing budget cuts? Share your story in the comments!
Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful. We get so caught up on everyday routines and stress that we tend to simply overlook everything that is in front of our face. Coaching is rough. It’s just as easy, if not easier, to forget all the amazing things. So, here’s a list of things that makes me thankful to be a cheer coach, even if I don’t verbally say it all year-round.
1. The balance. With all things in life, there is balance. You take the good with the bad, the loud with the quiet. The crazy with the easygoing. Of course, there is
a negative side to coaching. Do not let the bad overshadow the good! While you focus on what is going wrong or the fact that your expectations sometimes aren’t reality, take a look around you. Odds are, while you’re sulking in depression, frustration and a cloud of stress, you are missing out on some laughter. Missing out on the fact that although it wasn’t perfect, the cheerleaders for once gave it everything that they had. Remember that balance, and look for the beautiful in the ugly.
2. The parents. Oh, parents. They all have that capability to push buttons worse than the cheerleader’s themselves. We sometimes forget that
they don’t understand all the behind-the-scenes that goes into the sport. We also forget that they are just human. Parents may make mistakes, not read things over and sometimes nothing in this world could make you happy. Yet, through it all, they are the reason you are here, doing what you (hopefully) love to do. They created that life and are raising that athlete standing in front of you. They trust you enough to teach their child everything we have to offer. Respect that. Parents are the backbone of this sport.
3. The routine. Gosh, I wish making this up was easy. To some, it just flows. It’s just natural. To others, well, that’s what they make choreographers for. Whether you teach it or have it taught, it falls on the coaches. Fixing the little things, fixing that stunt that just doesn’t want to seem to stay up. When the cheerleaders hit the mat, that routine is your baby out there‚ in every sense of the word. It keeps you up all night, has you counting to eight so many times you actually forget how to count past eight, and sometimes has you ready to lay on a practice mat for all of eternity. (Come on, I am not the only person who does this.) That same thing can leave you prouder than you have ever felt. You taught that; you coached those athletes who are completely owning it; you created
what the judges loved enough to leave smiley faces on your score sheet.
4. The competition.
Sportsmanship is a huge thing with me. Want to be the best? You have to beat the best. Without friendly competition, you would never EARN the places you receive. Be thankful for the other teams, even if they are not so friendly. It’s an amazing example of everything you do not want to be, and everything that you and your team are. Those who are not kind are more than likely the reason that you are.
5. The fellow coaches. Give thanks to coaches everywhere, whether they are with your same organization or not. We, as coaches, can get wrapped up in the cheer world. The title can sometimes send us on a power trip, and pride is often a hard thing to swallow. Take a step away from that deadly sin and realize additional input can never hurt you. Extra eyes can observe more than just yours can. No one said you have to follow that input, but you should definitely consider it. If they were willing to take time away from their life to offer assistance it should not go unnoticed on your end. Those same people will pick you up if you’re being stubborn and you fall, they will encourage you, and honestly, fill your head up after you have done a great job.
6. The cheerleaders. The pains that they are, and the ones who have lazy days, and the ones who frustrate you when you just don’t understand how they can’t do something that comes easy to you. The only people in this world who can make a giant bow on the top of their head look completely fierce are your cheerleaders. They may stress you out to the ends of this earth, but at the end of the earth, you will find them cracking up laughing. That laugh that can erase any horrible run-through. Cheers to the group of girls who are
lazy at practice and then pull off a miracle when their time comes that leaves your jaw on the floor. Cheerleaders, who don’t realize their own strength and tell you that they “can’t’ do something. Those same ones who finally stop resisting your every push, and in fact, do what they said they can’t. Those athletes who smile when in tears, who push through the pain and who make life so much brighter. They may drive you absolutely crazy, but you know deep down, you wouldn’t want to imagine a moment without them.
There are so many things that you should be thankful for, these just skim the surface.
What are other things that make you thankful to be a cheer coach? Share in the comments!
There’s one question I am constantly asked: “why do you coach? ” I am asked that from friends, family, and random strangers.
There are countless reasons why someone would ask why we coaches keep going, and I completely understand why they ask why. The fact that we aren’t paid, and the amount of hours we put in; the commitment and the “lack of social life’; the drama and the crazy parents;
the stress and the pressure‚ it all sounds crazy to an outsider. I have complained countless times to my assistant coach (bless her soul), and other coaches or trusted parents (I have very few of them). I may have said, “I quit ” probably hundreds of times. The ones who really know me always respond, “shut up, Brit, no you are not. ” They are correct. I say it because I am stressed.
Maybe the practice didn’t go well, or what the routine I had imagined just doesn’t look like it should, or my parents drive me absolutely up a wall. The truth is‚ I am just venting. My “I quit’ is my personal pity party, and I think we all deserve them from time to time. I complain because I want to hear what I already know‚ it’ll be okay. I complain because I want to hear if I am being completely irrational, and I complain because I have to just get it out.
Yes, coaching is stressful; yes there is always drama in one way or another; yes the pressure can get to you. I have a board to answer to: directors, parents, and cheerleaders all observing my every single move. Most are completely unaware of how many hours I actually put into my teams. Most don’t know what it’s like to count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, a bajillion times. Most don’t know what parents put me through. They don’t see my nervous breakdowns, the tears and the frustration from putting your everything into your teams, putting your heart into growing athletes that you are molding and responsible for. And,
that crushing feeling if they don’t win. It DOES fall all on us. So, yes, it is very stressful.
But… it all comes down to these two things: passion and love. The love I have for those cheerleaders is what keeps me going. The passion I have for the sport is what drives me to want to do better. To you, it may not be worth it. The relationships that I have built with parents, coaches, directors, and board members will last a lifetime.
We are a family. When my back is against the wall, I know an army will be right there by my side. We fight, we laugh, we cry. My kids are friends with their teammates, and those friendships will stand the test of time. They have a village behind them; my team moms and my assistant coach are their “aunts’. The joy on their faces when they see each other is reason enough to never leave. My lack of social life depends on your definition of what a “good time’ is. You may enjoy going out with friends or family. I do that. It may not be your ideal fun time, but it is mine. There’s nothing like being at a competition surrounded by your team and your family. The stress and pressure. That’s life, you can’t escape it, and you can’t out run it. I don’t get paid‚ it’s volunteering for most of us! We did know that going in, and if it bothered me that much, I would have never volunteered. The reward that I get for coaching is something money will never be able to buy. The amount of love that I get in return from everyone involved, and the amount I laugh while I coach is something I wouldn’t trade.
Being a part of the future generation is important to me. Making memories with my children is very important. Sometimes, kids have less than ideal home situations, and if I am the reason a kid puts a smile on their face and knows what real love is, than I did my job as a mother, as a coach, and as a member of society. The world is full of negativity. The nurturer inside of me wants every single kid in the world to know that they are beautiful, inside and out; that they are strong, and to know love.
Coaching allows me to do that more than wishing on a star would. My heart is as full as my schedule. So, for all of you that ask me why I do it, the answer is simple‚ you just wouldn’t understand.
Why do you coach cheer? Share your story with us in the comments!
Competition season is a cheerleader’s prime time, but they aren’t the only ones working hard day in and day out. The season doesn’t work without the extreme, almost fanatical dedication of the coaches. Being a competitive cheer coach isn’t a job to take lightly; the success of the team depends on an organized, motivated, and dependable leader! Being a competitive cheer coach, you definitely have more weighing on your shoulders than you originally signed up for, and sometimes literally when standing in the line of crumbling stunts! Needless to say,
a cheer coach experiences competitive season a little differently.
1. Competition season never ends. Period.
Off-season? What off-season is this that you speak of?? The minute one season ends, another begins — you have tryouts, introduction practices, parent briefings, camp, clinics, summer practices, and then BOOM, the season is here. Flash forward through fall and winter-long practices, travel excursions, and countless community events between actual competitions, and before you know it, it’s late April and it’s time to start all over again. Good thing far-away competitions give you time to plan next season while in transit.
2. Dear brain: just stop. For one night.
You already are juggling your day job, your family, your team’s agenda, and your almost non-existent social life, but then you spy several motions in the routine that need changing. Oh, and there are a couple cheerleaders that are going on family vacations. And, your gym is closed for maintenance on‚ what day again? And, you need to place a team order before a certain date to get your items in time‚ when was that?? Halfway through the season, you realize that your personal journal has segued from daily rants to a running team to-do list. With your mind racing around the clock, you still manage to get it all handled. Thank you day planners, bulletin boards, phone notes, sticky notes, clipboards, notebooks, and your last shred of sanity!
3. Anxious? Drink more coffee, and calm down.
Competition season is high-stakes cheerleading, so a coach that wants to keep a “low-profile’ and is in it “just to have fun’ is doing it all wrong. Your cheerleaders are putting their lives in each other’s hands every day, and it’s your job to keep them from breaking‚ both physically and mentally. And, that’s not to mention making sure your cheerleaders are safe on the road, maintaining their attention enough to make progress at practice, and handing them over on time to competitions and community events. Cutting through a cheerleader’s sugar high is hard enough for any person, let alone the person who’s responsible to deliver the trophies. Bottom line: competitive coaching is not for the weak of spirit. Cue caffiene.
4. Despite the stress, coaching competitive cheer is the most rewarding feeling.
Some people volunteer to make a difference. You mold athletes on the mat, and help younger generations develop to be better adults. And, watching the routine that you thought up come to life and get recognized with awards on the mat is a feeling that money can’t buy. You are proud of your team, obsessed with their success, and every time you see them perform you want to cry. But, that’s fine: you let your emotions fuel you forward season after season.
How else do competitive cheer coaches view competition season? Share your experiences in the comments!
We are all get a little tired of the same old same old stuff, and life can sometimes get into a routine. When it comes to your team getting their routine down, that is great, but
when your team starts getting complacent, it is time to change things up. What better way to change it up than to switch up your practice location? Even gym rats, who love working out, get bored at the gym after a while. Here are some new ideas for alternative practice places.
1. The park.
No matter where you live geographically, there will be a park. A park is a great way for your team to get outside, get some fresh air, and feel rejuvenated. And, there’s nothing like a breath of fresh air to bring life to your team! Not only does being outside improve you physical health, it also improves your psychological health. Having a happy team improves performance and overall attitude, which makes your job as a coach that much easier. So, get that team out of the gym once a week, to practice outside and have some fun in the sun! If you are normally a team that works out at a gym, don’t forget to look at the care instructions on your cheer shoes: some shoes are not meant to be worn outdoors, so keep that in the back of your mind when scheduling an outdoor practice.
2. The beach.
This may not be possible for some teams, due to a beach not being close to you. If you are close to a beach, I encourage you to have a beach practice. It is hard not to love the beach. Sometimes, I forget how much I love it and every time I go I say to myself, “Why don’t I go to the beach more often? ” Stop thinking‚ just go! Sand does get all over the place, but it also makes for a challenging workout. Have your tried running in sand? It is not like what you have seen on Baywatch; it is near impossible to look remotely cool or cute, but it is a lot of fun! Too bad Zac Efron won’t be there‚ I was starting to feel a bit faint. Biggest word to the wise with working out at the beach: bring plenty of water and sunscreen! It might seem overcast and cool, but there is a lot of sun reflecting off that water, and you will get sunburned and dehydrated. I can tell you with confidence Zac Efron will not be there, nor will Dwayne Johnson, as much as we wish a lifeguard would be like that‚ chances are they will be more life a David Hasselhoff, so drink plenty of water!
3. The city.
If your team is in a small town or a rural setting, hit the streets of a major city and do some practicing or some impromptu performances. Be sure to be careful and not do major stunting on concrete‚ you don’t want anyone to fall and hurt themselves! If have access to a van or truck, you could bring mats to be on the safe side. You can perform for fun, or do a street performance. Street performing is awesome and if you have shy teammates, this may help them come out of their shell in a fun way. This is also a great way to spread the word about your team, and possibly even land you donations! Getting out in the city Is always a fun time.
What are other alternative cheer practice places? Share your practice stories with us!
a new year with a new team, and, of course, that means a new budget! The economy continues to improve year over year, and people are spending money, but not as much as they were before the 2008 market crash. This means you might be working with a little less than the high price tag attached to cheerleading. We all know cheerleading can be an expensive sport, and with parents and authority figures not being as charitable for recessional activities, you might have to start getting creative with fundraising to make your season work. If a school employs you,
you may have noticed budget cuts, or maybe you finally have a budget due to cheerleading being classified as a sport! Whichever the case, more or less money, the first thing you need to do as a coach is prioritize where the money needs to go.
Making a list of all expenses is a great way to start. List out all team and gym costs: new mats, uniforms, transportation, competition costs, etc. If you have enough money to cover all the things you want/need, awesome; if not, you need to make some hard decisions. Look at your list, and prioritize what is a “want’ and what is a “need’. For example, do you
need new mats this year, or can you hold off for another year?
Now that you have your priorities in line, do you have enough money to cover all these costs, or do you need to make additional cutbacks? If you do need to make some cutbacks, look at your priority list and see where you can start getting creative. If transportation is big part of your budget, think outside the box. Can you have parents drive instead of chartering a bus? If you are renting gym time, talk to other gyms, work out agreements to possibly cut costs, or talk to a gym about a potential sponsorship. You can also talk to your team about fundraising.
Competitions can be very expensive with travel cost, like flights and hotel rooms; call the airlines and hotel and see if the offer group rates to help with costs and check out deal website to see if you can find cheaper rates.
Competitions are really where you do not want to cut cost.
Your team works hard to compete in these competitions, and you want your team to have as many opportunities to compete. However, sometimes money is tight, and you have to make the hard choice to cut back on the number of competitions this year. Ask your team to rate the competitions from 1-10, and then budget out the top competitions your team chose to compete in. Let your team know the deadlines for registration and cost for the other competitions, and try and fundraise to come up with the cost before the deadline. You can use social media to get the word out about your campaigns, and as those competition deadlines near, see if you raised enough to be able join.
Budget cuts are hard on everyone. You want to do what is best for your team, and making cuts to dealing with a tight budget is a necessary evil. Just keep organized, and really look at your list of expenses. You want your budget changes to affect the team as little as possible. As the coach, you do
have to make the tough choices, but take a fresh look at your expenses and consider cheaper alternatives, as well as more effective fundraising techniques.
How else can cheer coaches adjust to new team budgets? Share your cost-cutting tips in the comments!
Sisters and cheerleading go hand-in-hand. Whether your team is made up of your cheer sisters, or if you’re lucky enough to cheer with your actual blood-related sisters, sharing a sport that you truly love is a gift in itself. Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of coaching sisters, coaching my own sister, and coaching with my sister‚ and it’s not an easy feat. But, I’ve learned to focus on what makes these relationships special, and it has helped me to successfully navigate that aspect of the sport.
First, teach them to work together from the start. Let’s face it‚ sisters are family, and families butt heads. If you are expecting to have two sisters on your team and never once hear them utter a peep, then you are in for a surprise. I’ve seen sisters who are the best of friends outside of practice get so competitive when they get on to the mat, that suddenly, they’re bickering nonstop. It could be that one sister is a little more experienced or outspoken than the other, or it could just be their nature. Your responsibility as their coach and mentor is to teach them to work as a team. Try putting them in a stunt group together; I’ve done it, and I’ve seen it work! You may need to keep one eye on the group to make sure everyone is working as one cohesive unit, but you will see that when tasked with the responsibility of keeping another member of their team safe, they will put all their personal issues aside.
Find their best qualities. Everyone has their own quirks and qualities that make them who they are. Focus on the qualities that make sisters on your team shine, and you will always be one step ahead of disagreements that could ensue. You would think that after years of coaching with my sister‚ both of us sharing head coaching duties‚ that she and I would have let our differences get to us, but we have learned to focus on what makes us great, and we roll with it. My sister is one of the best choreographers that I know; I can say that with confidence, because whereas I hear music and immediately imagine putting motions to the music, my sister can watch a routine and break it down count by count without batting an eye. I trust her completely in her ability, and with that, we have fostered some pretty amazing routines together!
Finally, let them have their moment. Whether good or bad, when it comes to sisters, you have to let them have their moments. I’m not saying allow a full-out yelling match in your gym, but let them respectfully work through their dilemmas. One thing about sisters, no matter how many times they fight or get under each other’s skin, they will always get over it. They’re family, and families don’t hold grudges. Before you know it, they will be right back to having each other’s back, and, that’s what’s important in this sport. If you can’t have your family’s back, whose back can you have?
My daughters have been on the same team on and off for the last few years. I’ve watched the two of them bicker. I’ve watched the two of them teasing each other nonstop when the other one gets corrected, but most of all, I’ve watched the two of them rooting for one another. They’ve learned to see how important this sport is to each other, and having someone like that on your side is one of the greatest gifts of being part of a family. Sisters will always be an important factor in this sport, but so is family, and when you put on that uniform or share that mat, we are all family and we all have to learn to work together.
What else is important to keep in mind when coaching sisters? What tips do you have? Share your experiences in the comments!
Feel like there is not enough hours in the day? You have SO much to go over with your team, and yet, the length of practice stays the same. With competitions or big sideline performances looming, you need to maximize your practice hours and really get down to the nitty-gritty‚ but how? Going into practice with improvements in mind is a great start‚ versus just winging it‚ and the more you have outlined in your mind, the better! However,
being a master of practice is more than just coming in prepared. Here are four expert practice tips to up your coaching game this season.
1. Anticipate that your plans might not measure up. Knowing that your practice can segue off course at any given moment isn’t something to stress over‚ it’s something to embrace! This sounds contradictory to keeping your team on track, but until you see your plans in action, you never really know if what you had in mind will work. You probably head into practice with adjustments to the routine that you mentally solved since the last time your team got together,
but will it actually work?? That’s the real issue, and the number one thing that could derail progress‚ reality. Maybe your cheerleaders need to work on a certain area to pull off a stunt or tumble, or maybe your original idea for a dismount is more challenging than you envisioned. No problem, just scale it down to your team’s ACTUAL skill level for the first performances, and work on progressing toward that stunt by the end of the season.
2. Expect parent interruption. In an ideal world, parents wouldn’t have access to practice spaces. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. Parents will always have something to say about the team, so the trick is to not have those comments/concerns/questions/etc. eat up practice time.
When the season starts‚
and throughout the season‚
remind parents that they can always reach out to you via email to discuss any issues or ideas that they may have about their athlete. If necessary, you may want to set up a 15-20 minute session to further discuss anything, but avoid doing it around practice times, so that they receive your undivided attention. In doing so, you not only strengthen your relationships with the parents, but the lack of distraction might even lead to opening up your mind to alternative things you might not have considered. The parents of your cheerleaders have been there, overseeing their progress since they got into cheerleading‚ and they also see them practicing at home! Whether you realize it or not,
they can provide valuable insight on the exact skill level of each individual team member.
3. Ease off the drill sergeant approach. You have a lot to accomplish in a small amount of time. Noted. But, holding practice just for the sake of improvement can lead to you overworking your cheerleaders. This can be problematic in two ways. One, your cheerleaders can become overly fatigued in practice, causing their actual performance to suffer; and two, the morale of the team can plummet from
the “all work and no play’ feeling. Either way, stressing perfection over progress will backfire. You’re right: you can only do so much in one day, so acknowledge and appreciate the minor victories as you baby step toward the finish line. Just take a deep yoga breath, ease that anxiety level a tiny bit, and tell yourself that your team will get there! Your cheerleaders will perform better next time walking out of practice after having a few minutes of fun, too.
How else can cheer coaches improve cheer practices? Share your coaching tips in the comments!
It can be hard to work with people, and as much as we try, sometimes you are partnered up with someone you just cannot get along with. Being able to work as a team is a skill that many adults struggle with in their daily lives, especially in the workplace. As a cheer coach, you know that working with a group of teenagers means that conflict is inevitable. Do you remember being a teenager? It sucked! All those hormones, emotions, and the constant pressure to fit in makes even the simplest tasks challenging. As a coach, you know problems will arise, so here are some tips to help you be prepared to cross that bridge when you come to it.
1. Strike first. Even before conflict arises, take charge, and let your team know drama will not be tolerated. If you make it clear from the start that that type of behavior won’t fly on your team, it holds your cheerleaders accountable. Some gyms have fun signs, saying “leave your bags, and your drama at the door. ” You can make it fun, but from the start, you need to make it clear to your team that certain behaviors are not acceptable or allowed in the gym. In the end, conflict will only affect the team as a whole‚ a team that works together, wins together.
2. Nip it in the bud. Conflict usually starts between two people when they disagree on something, but if you let it get out of control, more people get involved: they start taking sides, and you will eventually have a very unhappy team who cannot work together. It is easier to resolve a situation when it first arises instead of letting it grow. Talk to both cheerleaders to see what the issue is‚ most times, the conflict is a simple disagreement, or misunderstanding! Especially with teenagers, rumors can be a big problem. Have your cheerleaders talk it out, and your cheerleaders might find some common ground, or even a simple solution.
3. Call in the captain. Sometimes, your cheerleaders might have a situation that they don’t feel comfortable talking to the coach about. That’s when you enlist help from your team captain. It is true‚ people would rather talk to someone their own age about an issue. You picked your team captain because they showed leadership skills; let them help with conflict resolution, and maybe that’s all it takes for your cheerleaders to squash their beef.
4. Encourage team building. Try and build a strong team that works together. When you start hearing some potential grumblings or conflict, set aside a practice for just for the sake of team building. There are a bunch of games and exercises online you can turn to, too! You can host a day with your team at a theme park in your area, or another activity where your cheerleaders get out and have fun together. If you have access to a gym, you can put together a lock-in or a slumber party for you team, so they can hang out and bond.
Cheerleading is a team sport, and requires a lot of trust. With any team, there are going to be disagreements, but as long as you act quickly to solve the issue, your team should work in harmony. As the coach, you know what works best for your team, and not all cheerleaders are the same. Some resolutions may work for one cheerleader, and not for another. Cheerleading requires a lot of trust, and a team that does not trust each other can cause injury. Teamwork makes the dream work, and the only way a team can win is if they work together. Sometimes, having a common goal is the best way to get a team to work together!
What else can cheer coaches do to resolve team conflicts? What worked for your team? Share your conflict resolution tips in the comments!