Trying out for cheer for the first time can be scary and nerve-racking, whether you’re trying out for your middle school squad or are going out for the high school team.
You must be prepared for tryouts in order to make the team.
Know What to Expect
Before you can start preparing, you have to know how the tryout process works and what the coach will expect you to know. What’s the best way to find out? Ask! Approach the cheer coach, or a current cheerleader already on the squad, and ask about what you should know and how you can best prepare. They can give you the inside scoop, or at least a few pointers that will help out.
Whether you’ve only just learned a cartwheel or you’re a master tumbler, stretching is one of the best ways to practice for tryouts. Stretching is the foundation of flexibility, which is needed for all stunts, tumbles, and jumps. You can’t do a scorpion, back tuck, splits, or herkie without being flexible!
If you’re not flexible, start slow. The worst thing you can do is push yourself too hard. You can’t tryout for cheer if you pull a muscle! A common mistake cheerleaders-in-training make is forcing the splits or trying to master the splits within a few days. While it can be frustrating to stretch daily for several months, you must be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day and the splits take time.
If you feel like you’re not increasing your flexibility, take out a ruler! Each week, measure how far you can reach or stretch. It will help you see that you are improving, even if it is inch by inch.
Master Basic Tumbling Motions
If you’ve never taken a tumbling or gymnastics class, your tumbling skills probably only include cartwheels and handstands. This doesn’t mean you can’t make the cheer squad! There are plenty of cheerleaders who didn’t know how to tumble when they first made the squad. A coach isn’t expecting you to be perfect; it’s all about potential and having the basic building blocks needed to learn stunts and tumbles.
While you shouldn’t try to learn back handsprings and other advanced tumbling on your own without a spotter or instructor of some sort, there are some stunts you can familiarize yourself with. One great resource is our Guide to Tumbling. You’ll learn tips, tricks, and information on all the basic tumbling moves needed as a cheerleader.
Get in the Spirit
You can’t just move like a cheerleader; you’ve got to cheer like a cheerleader! A big part of being a cheerleader is getting the crowd excited with spirited cheers. It’s important to shout cheers loudly, but coherently. Practice enunciating and cheerfully shouting short cheers.
Look the Part
Now that you’ve got the moves and attitude of a cheerleader, it’s time to look like a cheerleader! Wear a form fitting practice tank and shorts. If possible wear your school or cheer squad colors! Make sure your shoes are clean and white, and preferably specifically for cheer. If you really want to look spirited, wear a cheer bow in your school or team colors and matching makeup. Just make sure that if you do wear makeup, keep it simple and natural.
Go to bed early and get a full night’s rest. Pack your tryout clothing, accessories, and other necessities so you don’t forget anything the next day. In the morning, eat a healthy breakfast and pack a water bottle and healthy, energy-boosting snacks, like granola bars, fruit, veggies, trail mix, or a sandwich. If you have time, do a few stretches. Don’t forget a notepad and pen to jot down any notes you may need to remember during tryouts.
Ready, Set, Go!
The time has come to hit the stage and show the coach what you’ve got! Arrive early and stretch for at least fifteen minutes before you tryout. Make sure you’ve filled out any and all forms. Don’t concentrate on being perfect; it will only cause more stress. Instead, focus on smiling and acting spirited. If you mess up, smile and act like nothing happened! After, thank the coach and ask when decisions will be made. Once your tryout is over, breathe a sigh of relief and be proud of your accomplishment. You did it!
Reader Tips: What I Wish I Knew Before Starting Cheer
We asked our readers to pass along the knowledge they gained from their cheer experiences. Keep these things in mind.
Don’t underestimate the power cheer can have over your life! If you love it, which you probably will, you may find yourself going far like our reader Erica. She wishes she knew how far she would go, because she would have prepared her skills better by taking tumbling classes.
Beverly warns that you need to have a grasp on how much time is involved. Unlike other sports that have seasons, cheer can be a year-round commitment. You don’t just attend practice either, you may be asked to take outside training like tumbling and dance.
Miquelda wants to remind new cheerleaders that those stunts you see are actually harder than they look! Sure, the experienced stunt groups are making it LOOK easy, but they’ve been training and practicing for a long time!