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Cheerleading Tryout Preparation and Tips

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Let's face it. It's one of the scariest things you can do in school, tryout for the cheerleading squad.
Especially if you're new to cheerleading. Every cheerleader has experienced the anxiety. So let's make it a little less painful, shall we?

Gather information.

First and foremost, every cheer coach conducts their tryouts a bit differently, so it's important to know what to expect and what is expected of you. You may not know what questions to ask, but after you read this article you should have a pretty good idea. If you do have questions, don't be afraid to reach out to the coach, but here are some things to remember before you do. 
  • Speaking as a coach, I don't mind questions at all, but make sure you use other resources as well. Do not ask questions that have been answered on the flyer or in any other communications, that's a red flag for a coach. 
  • Ask previous cheerleaders your questions before reaching out to the coach.
  • If you have more than one question, ask them at once, but clearly separate them for easy reading (numbering is best.) If you send one or two emails each day as you think of your questions it will not give a good first impression!

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Be prepared.

This part should be easy. Afterall, you've already gathered all of your information, but I'll help prepare you a bit more. Here are a few things that you may need to prepare. 
  • Tryout outfit. This is an important one. A lot of coaches have specific rules on what you need to wear for tryouts. Below is a list of what would be required of you as one of my prospective cheerleaders.
    • A plain white t-shirt (no logos or decals)
    • Shorts that are solid school colors (no spandex)
    • Athletic shoes (preferably cheer or white athletic shoes)
    • No jewelry or watches
    • No distracting painted/extra-long nails or overly done makeup
    • Hair up and out of face
    • Bow (as long as it is plain solid school colors and not a previous team bow)
  • Tryout material. It's also important to know what material will you need to know for the tryouts. If a back tuck is required to make your team and you're a cartwheel kind of gal, well, you might want to skip tryouts this year and take some private lessons first.
  • Will there be a judges panel or will the coaches be evaluating and choosing the team? More and more coaches are choosing to hand-pick their teams. There are a few reasons for this, but a main reason is that coaches are usually more willing to keep an athlete that needs help with skills, but has a wonderful attitude rather than a joy-kill athlete with attitude that has nearly perfect skills. 
As I mentioned, each coach's rules are a little different, so be sure to do your research ahead of time and know what is expected of you. Here is a cheerleading tryout checklist that can help prepare you for the day.


Take the time to work on your skills. In fact, see if your school or any local gyms offer a skills clinics prior to tryouts for some extra help. 

Stiff/sharp motions, clean jumps and tumbling with good technique (pointed toes, arm placement, etc.), and dance skills will certainly be the most helpful to your score. However, some commonly overlooked skills have nothing to do with the height of your jumps or the strength of your tumbling. For example, smiling, facials, and voice volume and control can take you a long way. They can show your fun personality and your entertainment factor. Cheerleaders are entertainers, don't forget that when you're trying to impress the judges. They want to see you having fun and if they do, it will show on your scoresheet. Unfortunately, if you don't entertain them, that will show on your scoresheet as well. Practice your smiles and facials in front of a mirror as well as your motions.


Believe it or not, the judges are rooting for you. I've been a judge and I've been the cheerleader on the other end. Chances are, your judge was once in your situation and they feel for you. They love to see you do well and they hurt for you when you don't. 

I guess what I'm saying is, don't make them into monsters in your mind. They've been in your shoes and they want to see you succeed. So, take a deep breath, relax, and give them your best!

"But what happens if I completely mess up a skill during tryouts?!" As I said, your judges are human and they want to see you nail every skill. If you make a mistake, simple say, "I apologize, may I try that again?" I've never heard of a judge saying no, so take that chance to get it right. (Just don't ask to redo every skill if it's clearly just lack of ability - they will see right through it!)

Final thoughts. 

Honestly, I could write for hours on how to prepare for tryouts, but this is a blog post and nobody wants to read a blog post that long. So, I will list a few more things to consider as you prepare for tryouts.

  • Get plenty of sleep each night. 
    • As a society we do not get enough sleep. Allow your body to rest and repair itself.
  • Drink water!
    • Make it a goal to drink one ounce of water per pound of body weight. So, if you weigh 120 lbs, you should drink 120 oz of water (10 12 oz glasses.)
  • Eat well. 
    • Do not try to skip a meal to make your abs look better. Those abs need fuel! Eat nutritious food and a balanced diet to get the most out of your workouts.
  • Condition your body.
    • Focus on building whole body strength.
    • Our partners at RitFit have some great conditioning tools such as resistance bands, jump boxes for vertical height, dumbbells for strength training, and rollers for muscle tension and added flexibility. Use this link for 10% off your first order!
  • Practice, practice, practice!
    • Mirrors and videos are your friends! You can "feel" like you're nailing a motion, but a little self-reflection might show you otherwise. Judge yourself as if you're judging someone else.
  • Don't try a new skill.
    • Tryouts are not the right time to debut a new skill. Often the judges are looking more at how you execute a skill rather than how difficult it is. Don't get me wrong, they look at both, but if you have a beautiful back handspring, but you just "learned" your tuck (and you fall to your knees 50% of the time) stick to the back handspring and nail it (unless the tuck is required and you have to go for it.)
Well, the fact that you're still reading this article shows me that you're willing to do what it takes to make the team so, continue to put it the hard work and go for it! I'll be here for you so if you have any questions just reach out! Best of luck!

Keep shinin' and keep smilin', Sisters!

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