A new cheerleading season has officially begun. Summer practices are starting, camp is a few weeks away, and if you are like the high school team I coach, your first football game is only 91 days away. While that may seem like a whole bunch of days, remember practices may not be that regular due to summer vacations. Your team has 91 days to perfect every cheer and sideline that will be utilized during a game, to make sure all stunts are hitting consistenty, and start preparing for your homecoming assembly.
As an ex-college cheerleader and coach, I spent five years of my life trying to enhance the game-day environment. As you start preparing for your season, I hope that you will find the following list from Varsity beneficial:
• When you decided to cheer you signed on to be an ambassador to your school. It’s important to keep a clean, friendly, approachable appearance.
• Wearing proper, uniform practice and game attire impresses upon the fans that your team is organized, disciplined and can be counted on to represent the school well.
• Light make-up, no jewelry and no visible tattoos.
• Cheerleaders should be at the game a half hour or hour prior to kick off. Everything that is going to be done during the game needs to be warmed up before the game.
• Arrive on time and in uniform or team warm-ups. If you’re supposed to show up in uniform, that includes shoes, socks, bows, etc. Not finishing your ponytail on the sideline and walking in with flip-flops.
• In proper lines, with hands on your waist, behind you back or right hand over your heart, cheerleaders set the example of how to properly stand for the National Anthem. Everyone does the exact same thing.
• Absolutely no talking, swaying, or gum chewing of any kind until the final note is sung.
• Whether tumbling out in front of the team, making signs to crash through or two lines to run in between, your job is to get the crowd on their feet for the team. The focus is on the team/players, not how well we can stunt or tumble.
• We cheer for our team during introductions not against the other team.
• Maintaining good manners is important, as the cheerleaders are the welcoming committee for the visiting school and their fans. They are the guests and cheerleaders are the hosts.
• Absolutely no “trash talking” of any kind.
• One suggestion is to take a cooler of water bottles over to the visiting team’s cheerleaders before the game. You can also send over your captains to invite them over for a light snack at halftime.
Scores and setbacks
• If you want the crowd to get involved, you must be involved. Appropriate cheer and stunting throughout the game. Leave the competition stunts on the competition floor.
• The crowd will notice if you smile and are genuinely happy to be there.
• Touchdown traditions are carried out after every score.
• As long as the team has to play, regardless of the score, cheerleaders happily encourage the team to the bitter end
• If there is a bad call and the crowd begins to “boo” do not join them. Counter it; the best you can, with a traditional chant to change the crowd’s focus.
• Throughout the game, there should be minimal talking on the sidelines. People will notice if you’re interested in the game or more interested in talking to a friend.
•Repeat your sidelines for as long as your crowd is willing to yell with you. Your crowd is intelligent when they are individuals, but a group of people needs to be led. This your only job during game day.
• Take a knee, where you are, and stay quiet until the player (of either team) has left the field. • For a prolonged injury, you may gather as a group. This is not a time to discuss future plans.
• Clap as the athlete walks off.
Know Your Role
• As your school’s most visible athletes, remember it’s not about you -it’s about building a sense of community and school spirit at your sporting events and within your school. Whether cheering at games, running a pep rally, organizing alumni functions, hosting visitors, or competing, etc. always conduct your self in a manner that brings enthusiasm to your school and unity to your community.