Tips For Competitive Cheer Teams

Entering the world of competitive cheerleading, with a new squad, can be a daunting task even for the most experienced sponsors, coaches, choreographers, and athletes. I hope the following tips and ideas will help sooth some of the nerves and frustrations that can come with the territory!

Setting goals – Cheerleading is an phenomenal sport with incredible rewards, but with that comes risk. You have to learn to balance realistic goals with pushing your limits to grow as an individual and squad. Skill progressions are an absolute must!  From tumbling to stunting, even dance, requires you start at a comfortable and safe skill set and progress correctly from there!

Being Dedicated – A lot of athletes want to throw those amazing baskets and insane tumbling passes as soon as they hear they have made the squad. Dreams are such a motivating thing, but they can also get us in trouble sometimes. Make sure to chat consistently with your athletes about how hard work and determination will pay off and keep everyone safe. There is no skill worth a major injury that can keep you from ever cheering again.

Choreography – This can be the most frustrating part for a new coach! If you can afford a great choreographer, then go for it!  Most new programs, however, cannot. With High School cheerleading, you need to be aware that judges are looking for clean, visually effective routines that help motivate a crowd to CHEER FOR YOUR TEAM! We like to see big stunts but if we can’t hear the cheer or it causes a major breakdown in pace and voice level, it is going to hurt your score far more than help it. Plus, when you are cheering on the sidelines, your crowd has no clue what a double up toss awesome tick tock to heel stretch is; they just know a girl went high into the air and is telling them to yell something. Keeping it simple and again, visually effective, is a major point not to miss!

Minimum standards per level – Please, please, PLEASE review the minimum requirements for your level and squad size. Just because you may have a smaller squad does not mean you can’t win! Find your strengths and play to them, as well as learning your weaker spots and working on them!

Team sport – When it comes to tumbling, you don’t need to have squad full twisting layouts to conquer the world (aka your division.) Group tumbling is a very big thing that judges look for! If you can send large groups of athletes across the floor perfectly synchronized, you can get within tenths of a point of someone doing really messy back tucks or layouts. The goal is to always try and have a majority of athletes do every skill. You can “recycle” athletes for certain passes, if you are short by 1 or 2, but really try and focus on every athlete accomplishing each skill.

You’ve got to want it to win it – I always tell my athletes, “If you can’t laugh at yourself, then cheerleading isn’t your sport.” This main seem a bit odd, but energy and enthusiasm do wonders to a routine that might otherwise seem a bit flat. When judging, I love to see teams giving it their all and if something doesn’t work, pulling together and finishing strong. Even Olympians have bad days, but they also realize it means they still have room to grow and learn.

So, yes, starting to compete can seem almost overwhelming at times. Keep these six points in the forefront of your decision making processes and the task will seem much more manageable. Cheerleading can easily become an integral and cherished part of your school spirit if it isn’t already. Football teams can’t live without you, and bringing home a Regional, State, or National trophy certainly doesn’t hurt your credibility in your community! This sport has taught me so much about respecting myself and others and I gladly welcome you to the international cheerleading family! Continue to check back with CheerNN for future articles written by yours truly!


Geoffrey Dudley is a well known tumbler, cheerleader and choreographer. Countries from around the world have featured his tumbling and stunting sequences as well as his original dance routines. Geoff currently resides in Austin. TX where is the founder of G Star Creative LLC.
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