Running Effective Pep Rallies

Pep rallies are the essential part of spirit leading for any school program. It is your team’s moment to AMP UP the crowd and sets the tone of crowd involvement for game time! Pep rallies are some of the most difficult and stressful tasks of a school coach. Whether your obstacles are logistics, the willingness of the crowd to stay involved or simply the amount of time slotted to motivate the crowd to cheer on the team. Whatever your challenges, there are key components to help your pep rally become successful.

MARKET YOUR RALLY – Choose a theme for the rally and spend your week promoting the rally on the announcements, through signs and make a “PEP RALLY TOMORROW” t-shirt for your team. Marketing the rally is important to the “buzz” surrounding the rally and will promote excitement and participation before the big day.

STAY ORGANIZED – Have a pep rally agenda and send it to coaches, sponsors and group leaders. Plan your rally down to the minute. Some clubs host a pep rally meeting the day prior to the rally including all of the sponsors and club leaders. Having the input and buy in from all involved will alleviate stress on the day of the rally and will help make all participants feel more at ease during the event.

KEEP UP THE ENERGY – There are a few things that will contribute to the overall energy of the rally. Have a STUDENT emcee to lead the rally. Pick a student leader on campus that is energetic and someone other students will follow. Don’t allow any down time or pauses in the rally. Using a “runner” to make sure each piece of the rally is running on time and the next presenter/club or speaker is ready to go is important to avoid awkward pauses and lulls in the pace of the event.

INVOLVE EVERYONE – Find clubs that are new and different to present their talents at the rally. Feature the color guard, the step team, and the choir! During your games or contests, find students who would not normally be called up the front and feature their club or event in the rally. This strategy will include everyone in the school even outside of sports to promote support from the entire school.

CLASS COMPETITION/CHANTS – Have your spirit team come up with a chant that each class can yell at the rally! At the end of the rally award a spirit stick or an award that is given from one class to another at the end of each rally for the class with the most spirit!

ESTABLISH ORDER IN CHAOS – Keep your cheerleaders organized and professional. Many times in rallies you will see the cheerleaders clumped up in a group or they might seem uninvolved when talking during band cadences or not sure of what to do during down time. Remind your team the cheerleaders LEAD the rally. If they are out of formation or are not enthused, the crowd’s energy will decline. The crowd will feed off of the organization and inspiration of your team. Ensure you have a CROWD LEADING cheer with signs and simple motions and stunts. During band cadences, prepare an exciting transition or pyramid and execute it as soon as the music begins. Have a pre plan on who is tumbling, stunting and throwing spirit items. This makes your team appear organized and together, which establishes leadership and crowd buy in.

Using all of these organizational tools will help your pep rallies remain full of energy and involvement!

Hillary White has been involved in coaching cheerleading for over 20 years. She is currently the owner of Ovation Cheer and Dance Choreography. Ovation caters to choreography of all types across the United States. For more information on Ovation Cheer and Dance Choreography click on this link: