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Practice Discipline: Demerit System

This post is a new addition following my previous discipline system post. You may have read my post about the three strike discipline system, if not, you can read it here.

I fully believe that the three strikes discipline system is effective, however, you must also consider the age group of those you're coaching. I used the three strikes discipline system as a youth coach and it worked perfectly during that time. However, as a high school coach, sometimes we need to spell things out a bit more. High school cheerleaders are in that strange stage between being a child and a young adult. They want to be treated like adults, but they're not always ready for the consequences associated with adulthood. Therefore, I created a demerit system for discipline. A primary reason that I created it is because I pride myself on being fair. I will not have favorites and I will treat everyone the same. Unfortunately, some cheerleaders have to receive demerits before they understand that I will follow-through with consequences should they misbehave or fail to follow the rules. Parents even joke that they are going to buy me a demerit stamp, but one thing is certain, they know I will hold their cheerleaders accountable for their actions and I will be fair with everyone. 

Here is the breakdown of my demerit system as it is written in our high school cheerleading handbook. 


Demerit Record

• The record will be established for all cheerleaders (varsity, junior varsity, and freshman.)
• The record will record infractions for the entire school year, as identified by the cheer coach.
• Demerits cannot be worked off or retracted.
• The record will be maintained solely by the cheer coach and must be kept confidential. A cheerleader may view her/his own record.
• When a demerit is recorded on the record, the cheer coach will initial the entry and ask the cheerleader to do likewise.
• When a cheerleader receives a total of 5 demerits, the cheer coach will personally counsel with the cheerleader.

10 Cumulative Demerits = Notice

• When a cheerleader reaches a total of 10 demerits, the cheerleader will be placed on notice and the Coach will notify the cheerleader and her/his parent/guardian.
• The notice status will be documented in writing by the coach and signed by the athletic director. The notice statement will be provided to the parent or guardian.

15 Cumulative Demerits = Suspension

• When a cheerleader reaches a total of 15 demerits, she/he will be suspended for a 3-week period. The cheerleader is prohibited from performance activities and wearing uniforms. They will continue to practice.
• The suspension status will require the coach to meet with the cheerleader and her/his parents. The suspension will continue until the meeting takes place.

20 Cumulative Demerits = Dismissal from Squad

• If a cheerleader accumulates 20 demerits, the cheerleader will be dismissed from the cheer squad. A written notice and copy of the demerit record will be prepared by the cheer coach and signed by both the cheer coach and the athletic director. A copy of the notice will be given to the student’s parent or guardian.

Free Download!

If you're interested in implementing my demerit system, you can download a copy of the demerit record here. I created the document after researching many other programs that also have a demerit system. Of course, you are welcome to create your own based on my template as well. 

One of the most important things to remember is to be consistent and communicate your strategy effectively. Even if one of your best cheerleaders walks into practice with a necklace on, she must receive a demerit. Not only will it help her in the long run, but others will see that you follow your discipline system no matter what (or who). In addition, if you have properly communicated this system and your expectations, you might not have to deal with as many issues in the long run. I can tell you that it will NOT be easy the first year that you switch to this system, but it will help you so much as you continue to use it over the years!

Best of luck and be sure to let me know if this system was sucessful for you. If not, please share your ideas. It will only help us all in the long run.

As always, keep shinin' and keep smilin', Sisters! 

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