Cheerleading tryouts have been around since the beginning of cheerleading organizations, allowing teams to find the best of the best! This process is meant to ensure that members are dedicated and ready for the upcoming cheerleading season. Each participant is responsible to show off their skill sets, usually ranging from tumbling, stunting, jumps, and cheer or dance routines. Over time, cheerleading tryout methods have changed to accommodate newly developed skills, rules, and regulations evolving in the cheer world. With this season’s cheerleading tryouts right around the corner, it is important to know the history and how the process has changed over the course of years. Tryouts Begin! For over 100 years, cheerleading tryouts have been part of the process when making the team. Originally, cheerleading tryouts were based off of the candidate’s physical ability, personality, crowd appeal and acrobatic instruction. In the 1920s, tryouts formulated as a selection process. It was now more than choosing a casual volunteer to be a member of the team, cheerleading was becoming more and more competitive. Holding tryouts meant you were qualified and ultimately competing for a position on an athletic team. Cheer started at the college level, so judges usually consisted of faculty or physical education department members. In the 1950s the system was changed to student voting and required trying out in front of the whole student body! How nerve-racking would that be? An important component when determining if a candidate would make the team was whether or not they portrayed a cheerleader personality. A cheerleader’s job was to inspire the crowd by rallying and showing team support, which is why personality mattered so much when looking to fill that spot on the squad. Cheerleading started attracting athletes of all ages, and as the sport grew tryouts became more restricted. Schools developed elaborate procedures to recruit, train, and elect possible team members. By 1975, more than 500,000 students around the US, from grade school to college level, were part of a cheerleading team. To become a member it was now beyond just personality; competitive qualifications were required and written rules were established. Tryouts Present Day Naturally, guidelines of the cheerleading tryout process has been updated and continues to evolve with changing times. Requirements for present day tryouts have become even more competitive with more difficult standards for a cheerleader to reach, and now also include the more glamorous professional cheer squads – some of which can be followed through reality television programs. The judging process has become more personal and takes place in a more private setting. Usually the judges consist of professional cheerleaders, competition judges, or previous squad members. Skills that judges are looking for have become more advanced in all areas: Tumbling at an advanced level and being capable to perform a backhandspring or backtuck is sometimes vital to make a team Stunting has changed with new techniques, tricks, and skills compared to what it used to be. Stunts have progressed and become more complicated. Cheer and dance have been altered with different music and fashion trends, and techniques in the movements and motions. Crowd involvement is probably the one aspect of cheerleading that has not drastically changed. The goal is to still gain crowd appeal and judges look for that enthusiastic personality in a cheerleader during tryouts. Tryouts are a very important time of year for a cheerleader, keep this information in mind when you step in front of the judges! Good luck!