Activities Sports & Athletics 6 Tips for Coaching Tiny & Mini Cheerleading Teams Or, How To Not Pull Out Your Ponytail When Coaching The Under 8's Share PINTEREST Email Print Getty Images Sports & Athletics Cheerleading Cheers Baseball Basketball Bicycling Billiards Bodybuilding Bowling Boxing Car Racing Cricket Extreme Sports Football Golf Gymnastics Ice Hockey Martial Arts Professional Wrestling Skateboarding Skating Paintball Soccer Swimming & Diving Table Tennis Tennis Track & Field Volleyball Other Activities Learn More By Christy Mitchinson Christy Mitchinson is a longtime cheerleading coach with advanced certifications. She has been writing professionally about cheerleading since 2000. our editorial process Christy Mitchinson Updated May 15, 2017 Coaching younger cheerleading teams is one of the most rewarding experiences a cheerleading coach will ever have. It can also be one of the most difficult. Little ones are well known for having boundless energy and they don't always follow orders well. This can make keeping a gymnasium full of excited, chanting, chattering cheerleaders under control next to impossible. But there are ways to survive a tiny or mini practice. First off, understand that they are not trying to make your head spin, they are just little. Whatever you do, do not take their behavior to heart. Know that they don’t always know that what they are doing is bad or unacceptable. So the next time your team gets out of hand, don’t hand in your poms or pull out your ponytail, take a deep breath and try one of the following methods for regaining control. 1. "Straight Up!" – At the start of training each day for a few weeks, show them how to stand “Straight Up”. This means standing straight in position with their arms down tight to their sides and hands in blades and their feet together. This is an important position for them to learn with regards to formations and being ready for stunts, tumbling, or choreography, but it also is an excellent way to rein them in when they become giddy. If your team is in position, but is getting rowdy, use the shout out “Straight Up” to signify that they need to stand in this position without talking. On hearing this, they should quickly return to their spot on the floor and stand ‘straight up’.2. Shout Back – This is similar to ‘Straight Up’, only once you shout to them they will shout something back to you. For example, if they are in a line and are distracted or talking, you can initiate this command by saying "Hands on Hips”. They in turn will move into the ‘hands-on-hips’ position and say "Smiles on Lips!" They can also be in formation, where they should be standing in a straddle and you can shout ‘Feet Apart’ for them to answer ‘Ready to Start’. It's fun for them and brings their focus back to you. 3. Be firm - If they won't listen, try talking in a firm voice. As cheerleaders first, and coaches second, we can be a little too soft, especially when dealing with our little ones. Let them know that you're the boss by the tone in your voice, but be careful not to shout or come off as mean. It is important that your team respect, but never fear you. 4. Eye contact - Always look them in the eye when talking to them. You can get the point across without having to yell if you can hold their attention. If you need to, get down on the ground so that you are eye level with them and be certain they maintain eye contact with you while you are speaking. 5. Sit Out – Just like granting time outs, have them sit down out of the way of the practice. Set a chair to the side of the floor where you can watch them without leaving the rest of the team unsupervised. Start by sitting them out for about 5 minutes. Increase it in 5 minute increments if they continue to misbehave. 6. Run - Have them run 2 or more laps around the room. Think of it not as punishment, but as conditioning, after all, cheerleading is a sport that requires a certain level of physical fitness and endurance. Running laps will wear expend some of their energy and get them focused. Above all, remember that they are just excited to be at practice, with their friends, and doing something they love. We need to encourage that excitement. The minute they don’t enjoy cheerleading anymore, they won’t come back. And who knows, the overly-excitable seven-year-old on your mini team may just be the next Kiara Nowlin.