Team Trust is a MUST! Once you have worked with your cheerleading team to build a foundation of respect, the next step is to build a strong a lasting connection through trust. Many times, teams take advantage of trust, especially if the team has mostly returning members. An “old’ team can grow so comfortable that they might forget the time when they were giving their team mates (then thought of as strangers!) the stink eye when it came to tossing and catching. Trust has to be built through action, it doesn’t just exist, and it needs to be nurtured to grow. There are some great trust-building activities that you can do with your team to promote bonding and improve communication. Before getting into the details of those, here are some goals and tips for these exercises. Using activities that challenge your team physically will also raise their stress level. Why do you want to do that?! Raising the stress level during these exercises will help prepare your team for the pressures and demands of performances and competitions, and it will also make the outcomes of these activities more genuine. When someone see a team member pulling through despite obvious struggles, they’ll know that they can count on that person. You also create a lasting impression of your team being ‘in it’ together. Another perk to physical challenges is that they help build confidence. Even though team members might be stressing, when they see themselves achieve in spite of the stress, they will learn to trust their own abilities (and make it easier for others to trust them!). To get the best results, make sure that you pair or group people that don’t know each other that well, or better yet, people that don’t like each other. Make sure each person has a chance as the trusted and the trustee. Mix up people’s responsibilities by putting a flyer in a base situation and having a base person experience being caught. Role reversal can give people a better sense of the entire situation, and in return a higher level of comfort and trust. Trust Building Exercises I’ll Be There… Beginners: Lean Back This is the basic, and probably most known, trust exercise. Break girls into teams of two. Standing on the ground, one girl from each group will turn her back to her team mate, cross her arms over her chest, and lean back. Her group member, standing behind her, will catch her and lift her back up. Make sure every girl takes her turn at each role. Then, swap partners. Continue to have your team swap partners until all team members have worked together. Novice: Leaf On The Wind Form a circle, with one person in the middle. Have the middle person choose a starting point, close their eyes and fall back. The circle will catch them, and then pass them around the circle. Advanced: Falling Into You Have all but one of your team members form two lines (facing each other) at the end of a picnic table. They should put their arms out in front of them so that all of the arms together form a bridge. Have the cheerleader that is not in line fall backwards from the edge of the table into the “arm bridge’. Follow The Leader… Beginner: The Oracle Separate into teams of two, and blindfold one person. The seeing person holds the hand of the blindfolded person and walks them around. This exercise should start with team members walking slowing, then gradually working their way up to a fast run. Novice: a-MAZE-ing Scatter a few (safe!) objects around the floor. Separate into teams of two, and blindfold one person. The blindfolded person needs to navigate through the maze with only verbal instructions from their team mate. Advanced: Silent Ride Scatter items around the floor randomly, or create an obstacle course. Separate into teams of two, and blindfold one person. The obstacle course must be completed by having the seeing member ride piggy back on their blindfolded partner. Instead of using verbal instructions, the guide can only use thigh pressure to give directions (no talking at all!). The road the trust is long, and can be easily broken. Providing your team with the right guidance will give them the confidence to take the personal risks that they need to in order to gain and earn trust. Coaching and training them will give them the skills they need to make sure those risks result in positive outcomes. Pay attention to your team all season, and watch for signs that trust has been broken somewhere, between two or more team members. Task the team captain to watch and report as well. If you need to, take the time to revisit these trust exercises so that your team dynamic and performance doesn’t suffer. Check out the Complete Guide to Team Building Tips For Cheerleading Squads What does your team do to build and keep trust? Share with our readers in the comments section!