How to Prepare for Cheer Tryouts
Trying out for cheerleading can be a daunting prospect, especially if you have never cheered before. As a former high school cheerleader and cheer captain and a current certified cheer coach, I am able to offer some advice for cheer hopefuls who would like to tryout for a team.
Is Cheering Really for You?
Before you decide to sign-up for tryouts, you need to think long and hard about why you want to become a cheerleader. What is your motivation? If your motivation involves any of the following, you may want to reconsider your decision.
You want to be popular
The fact is, cheerleading is not a sure way to become popular. When I cheered, I wasn't even very good friends with the majority of my teammates and they certainly were not the girls that I confided in and spent my free time with on the weekends. With that being said, sure, cheerleading can be a way to make new friends. But, you need to keep in mind that you may not get along with these girls, but you will be required to present a united front when you are in uniform. I want to issue a caveat because joining a squad for this reason alone is likely to backfire on you. If you are trying to join to befriend girls that usually ignore you, chances are they will not welcome you in to their group even if they deal with you as a teammate. This is a harsh reality. Girls can be mean.
You want to look cute prancing around in a uniform
The problem with this is that if your main goal is to look cute, you probably shouldn't be cheering. Cheering is a huge commitment. Don't expect to put on a uniform and be a good cheerleader. It doesn't work that way. You may look cute in your uniform until you have to actually demonstrate some kind of cheer talent. No one looks good messing up routines in front of an audience; it doesn't matter what your wearing, you will still look a mess and you will feel embarrassed.
You want to look well-rounded on your college applications
This is a good goal, as long as you also genuinely want to be a cheerleader and have a measure of spirit for your school. But, if you are thinking that cheerleading is an easy, less time consuming sport for your record, you are wrong. There are many other activities you could consider, especially if you don't have a lot of time. Cheerleaders practice a lot. The practice schedule will get in the way of other activities you are involved in and cheerleading will take away your personal free time on the weekends.
Do You Have the Personality?
In general, cheerleaders have immense pride for their school and want to see their peers succeed on the field and court. Cheerleaders need to be loud, somewhat outgoing, and unafraid to perform in front of large amounts of people, including their peer group. If you are worried that your peers or the audience will make fun of you or talk about you when you perform than you may want to reconsider trying out. If you are having fun and cheering for your team and you are outgoing, than you shouldn't care about what anyone else thinks. The fact is, performing in front of people, especially your peers, takes a lot of fearlessness.
Cheerleaders also need to be able to get along with girls that they may not particularly like. This is good practice for adult life when you will be required to work in a professional environment with colleagues or bosses that you may not like. No one likes every person they meet, but learning to get along with everyone is a valuable skill.
Preparing for Try-outs: Tips for Success
If you have decided that cheerleading is for you than you have your work cut out for you! The first thing you need to do is find out what skills are required for the tryout and how much time you have to prepare those skills. Usually, a coach will have a mandatory meeting for girls who want to tryout. In other instances, a coach will simply have girls come to practice sessions where they will learn tryout material.
My Tryout Tips
- If tumbling is required and you can't do at least a standing backhandspring, you may want to take tumbling classes and work on your skills and try out the following year.
- If you are required to come up with original material and aren't a great choreographer, find someone who can help you or look online for ideas.
- If the tryout material is taught at practice sessions, make sure you go home and practice after each session so that you remember the material.
- Take a notebook to practice and write down the words to any cheers and descriptions of the motions.
- If allowed, video tape on your cell phone any demonstrations of routines and cheers.
- Make sure you stretch to improve your jumps before tryouts.
- Make sure that you know what each motion is called in case you are asked to demonstrate them to the judges.
- Practice facial expressions in the mirror. Make sure you look excited and happy to be at tryouts!
- Do not tuck your thumbs in to your fingers. Tuck your thumbs over your fingers.
- Squeeze your nails, which should be short and unpainted, in to the palm of your hand when making a cheer fist, this well help sharpen your motions by making your arm muscles tighten.
- If you mess up during your tryout, try to jump back in to the routine as quickly as possible, drawing as little attention as you can to your lapse. Everyone messes up sometimes, even on cheers they've been doing for years. Make sure you keep saying the words if you really can't remember the motions and keep smiling!
These tips are meant to help someone who has never cheered before. For more detailed information I recommend the book This book is full of information. This book has step by step pictures that will guide you through the motions for jumps. Stunting techniques are explained as well. You will also find tryout tips, The Ultimate Guide to Cheerleading: For Cheerleaders and Coaches.