Power-lifting. High-flying gymnastics. Through-the-roof jumps.
Cheerleading is the sport that’s making scads of you switch from dance,
gymnastics and track (to name a few) to shouting it out full-time. When
we heard how many GL readers were rah-rah-rah for cheerleading, we knew
we had to provide an all-out guide to doin’ it right. Here are tons of
tips for making the team, upping your skills and getting along with the
By Katie Abbondanza
STEP UP YOUR SKILLS
There are a couple of months left before summer camp and eons before
football season kicks off. So now’s the time to start your training.
Keep on reading for some cheer-tastic tips. Your coach is definitely
gonna notice your over-the-top improvements!
IMPROVE YOUR OUTLOOK
Whether you’re a rookie or the team captain, put last year behind you.
Take time to get to know this year’s squad—there might be lotsa fresh
faces—and to practice some new skills—the latest routines, cheers and
chants. “Be open to change,” says Misty Hodges, University of
Louisville’s all-girls cheerleading coach. “It takes time to learn the
SHOW OFF BETTER FACIALS
Cheering is all about getting the crowd pumped, whether you’re rooting
on your school’s basketball team or competing in regionals. So, um,
you’ve got to look like you’re having a blast. But between all the
mental gymnastics (5, 6, 7, 8…where the heck am I supposed to be now?)
and the super-physical stunting, it can be tough to look like you’re
genuinely stoked. So rehearse your game face in the mirror before
brushing your teeth. Your smile will be bigger, and you’ll perfect that
’tude-filled head toss. Wink!
GET HIGHER JUMPS
“Flexibility will allow one to improve the height of her jumps,” Coach
Hodges clues us in. Make some time in your schedule for a stretch sesh.
Feeling crunched for time? We won’t tell anyone if you limber up in
front of the tube. When asked how she gets her jumps sky-high,
Samantha, 14, whose rec squad won major competitions last year, says,
“I stretch every day to stay flexible, which really helps. Leg lifts
MAKE YOUR MOTIONS KNIFE-SHARP
If your coach has told ya once, she’s hollered it 100 times: Keep those
arms rigid! It’s time to grab a pair of free weights for curls, or drop
and do some push-ups. The more toned your arms are, the easier it’ll be
to make those high V’s sharp. Make it a point to really practice
them—don’t just mock the motions when you’re rehearsing a cheer. Going
full-out will help you be more prepared come competition time.
ROLL WITH IT
If you really want to impress the masses, kick your tumbling skills up
a few notches. Your round-off might have cut it in the past, but now
the team is attempting to stick back handsprings. “Always learn the
proper technique before moving on to more difficult skills,” Coach
Hodges reminds us.
Adds Kate, 18, who has been cheerleading since she was just 7 and is
now a squad trainer, “During the summer, I practice my tumbling on the
trampoline, which helps a lot for when the season starts up again.” No
more throwing those tucks…and hoping to land safely, especially on the
hard floors of the gymnasium. So let’s hear it out loud: Three cheers
for soft landings!
Have about a million questions before you face the judges? We’ve got
answers. University of Maryland’s cheerleading coach Jarnell Bonds
tells you how to ace your audition.
I’ve never cheered before. How can I prepare for tryouts?
All squads are different, so you’ve gotta go right to the source.
“Communicate with the coach and current team members about what the
team is looking for. Focus your prep based on their feedback,” Coach
Bonds tells us. That way, you’ll know whether you should double up on
dance or make the most of your motions. E-mail your coach to ask if you
can watch a practice or two.
What will make me stand out from the crowd?
“I always prefer the athlete who shows the strongest desire to join the
team. They’re the ones who’ll work the hardest,” says Coach Bonds.
I can’t really tumble. Do I still have a shot?
“Strong tumbling is essential,” Coach admits, “but no more important
than stunting and showmanship. All-star teams value these categories,
as well. Many times, high school squads don’t have as big a focus on
their score sheet for tumbling.” Show the coach what you can do—safely!
What should I wear?
“Wear a practice uniform that mimics something you have seen current
team members in—look like you are already part of the team. This helps
the coach picture you as a future team member,” Coach Bonds informs us.
I haven’t worked out in a while. How can I condition?
Coach Bonds recommends push-ups for core strength, as well as lunges
and squats to give ya a good base for stunting. Flyers should work on
core muscles (think crunches!) for stability in liberties and
scorpions. Don’t forget to do cardio three to four times a week so you
can get through a 3-minute routine (it’s waaay longer than it sounds!).
Be the girl who makes the cheerleading squad!
The competition looks fierce? Don’t hide behind your pom-poms. Real cheerleaders spill their tryout secrets.…
GET A STUNT PARTNER
“I got the guts to try out for cheerleading through my friend Kayti.
She was cheering and really enjoyed it. Next thing I knew I was trying
out for the team. I was nervous because I had never cheered in my life.
Tumbling classes helped me out a lot. Give it your all, and leave them
with a lasting impression.”
“Smile and show off your personality as much as your cheering ability.
I followed this advice and made the squad. When we had tryouts, I was
always my bubbly, friendly self. I also put all my energy into cheers
and stunts, and I kept smiling through it all. Now, I’m a smiley,
enthusiastic, spunky cheerleader!”
“One thing my coach said stuck out to her at tryouts was my attitude.
Being able to twist and flip is important, but those things can be
taught. I had a very positive attitude, and that helped. And be honest
about your weaknesses. Coaches are looking for girls who are confident,
cheerful and full of energy!”
Be A Top Gun Teammate
Being a cheerleader is a year-round commitment, even if you only cheer
for one season. Between camp, homecoming, fundraisers, pep rallies and
competitions, you’ll be logging major hours with the team. Here’s how
to be a total squad all-star!
RAISE YOUR VOICE
Spending time together outside the gym is key for squad bonding. Have
the girls over for a cheer film fest, or suggest everyone claps it up
for the softball girls. It may be a li’l tough to break the ice at
first, but the team’ll follow your lead. Next time, Ashley may step up
and invite everyone to her pool. For now, be cool being the girl who
brings everyone (not just squad faves) together.
The squad is stoked—matching duffels arrived just in time for camp.
Now, um, which is yours? Break out the poster board, markers and
stickers to make cute name tags for the bags. Laminating paper from the
craft store will make them extra sturdy. Punch a hole, thread some
string through, and they’re ready to roll.
IT’S A CHEER EMERGENCY!
So you can’t heal a twisted ankle. But you can be prepped for any other
mini-disaster teammates might face. Your girl’s cool new cropped ’do
won’t stay up? No prob. You have bobby pins and plenty of hairspray.
Keep a Cheer 911 kit in your bag. Stuff it with tampons, glitter, hair
elastics, deodorant and extra socks. Toss in some energy-boosting trail
mix, too! You’ll def be the go-to girl.
Cheerleading camp is the ultimate experience. Where else can you talk
about double-downs and people actually get you? GL searched the
country, and we’re giving out our first-ever honors for the best cheer
camps. Gimme an A-W-E-S-O-M-E!
Crowd Fave UCA Summer Camp, varsity.com
Right-on if: Your squad’s spirit is legendary!
Raves: GL readers can’t stop gushing over the camp’s exciting
atmosphere, not to mention the staff’s commitment to cheerleaders at
every level. “There are always amazing instructors who help each girl
individually,” Katie, 12, tells us. “They really know what they’re
talking about. It’s a week of non-stop cheer-mania!” This camp has
locations all over.
Miss Congeniality Pine Forest Cheer Camp, cheerleadingcamps.com
Right-on if : Your squad loves, loves, loves the idea of a woodsy, old-school getaway.
Raves: You’ll bunk deep in the Poconos and do all sortsa
traditional camp activities (night swimming! talent shows!), in
addition to days filled with cheering.
All-around Award NCA Summer Cheer Camp, varsity.com
Right-on if: Your coach has put the kibosh down on any shot at going to sleepaway camp.
Raves: NCA sends counselors to you. Says Sarah Kate, 13, “We learned awesome cheers, chants and killer stunts!”
Grand Champion Panama City Beach Cheer Camp, panamacitycheercamp.com
Right-on if: The team is looking for an amazing vacay and camp seems like a fab excuse.
Raves: We’re swooning over visions of practices on the beach. You’ll share a condo with your crew!
POSTED ON 3/19/2008 6:45:00 AM