Tips and Hints to Help You Become a Cheerleader

What You Need to Know and How to Prepare

Cheerleader with megaphone cheers for her football team
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So, you want be a cheerleader? Where do you begin? Cheerleading is more than just trying out and being picked for the squad. It's about seeing yourself in a certain way, building physical skills, and presenting yourself in a positive light. It's also about teamwork, memorization, and training.

Cheerleading Is a Way of Life

Cheerleading is as much about who you are as what you are. A cheerleader is a leader, a role model, a friend, and an athlete. At times they are a teacher and at other times a student. They can be considered a sports participant or a spectator, depending on where they are and what they are doing. They are looked up to by many and put down by others. It's not always easy being a cheerleader, but the rewards are many. The skills you learn will not only carry with you throughout your lifetime but will help shape who you are or what you become. 

Cheerleading Qualities

Cheerleaders are, by definition, positive people. They are also:

  • physically strong and energetic (it takes a lot of hard physical work to become a cheerleader)
  • confident (cheerleaders are out in front of crowds all the time, and need to project positive confidence in themselves and their team)
  • good team players (cheerleading is all about working together)
  • disciplined (you'll be learning and practicing routines that you must learn by heart)
  • hard-working (you'll be practicing long, hard hours)
  • willing to play by the rules (cheerleading competitions are all about following very specific rules to the letter)
  • able to take constructive criticism (you can only improve if you're able to respond positively to criticism from coaches)
  • eager to learn new things (you'll be learning new moves and cheers all the time)

In addition, a good cheerleader must have:

  • a good strong voice for cheering
  • a healthy lifestyle (eating and sleeping right and avoiding drugs and alcohol are key to being a strong athlete)
  • the ability to manage multiple demands at the same time (cheerleading takes a lot of time and energy, but you must also be able to complete your schoolwork and handle other responsibilities)

Learn What It Takes to Become a Cheerleader

The road to becoming a cheerleader starts with education. Learn all you can about every part of cheerleading and you'll be off to a good start. Here are some tips for collecting the information you need:

  • Talk to the coach or adviser of the squad you're trying out for and find out the requirements. If possible, talk to current cheerleaders.
  • Attend a performance of the squad you're interested in. Watch them closely and observe their skills and abilities.
  • Get to know the cheerleaders in your school. If you can become friendly with some of the girls, you'll learn more about what it takes to join the squad; at the same time, you'll also have friends eager to support you during tryouts.
  • Watch tryouts. If you're allowed, go to tryouts the year before you plan to try out yourself. Watch to see what the coach is asking for and take notes.
  • If you don't know something, don't be afraid to ask questions.
  • If you'll be cheering for a sport, learn about that sport. Know when to cheer and when not to.

Get in Shape

Cheerleading is physically demanding; in fact, it can be tougher than some varsity sports. That's because cheerleaders must be as strong and flexible as gymnasts, as graceful as dancers, and have the lung capacity of runners. What's more, while athletes can grimace and sweat, cheerleaders must always have a smile on their faces and look their best.

To get in shape, enroll in some classes, or attend a camp or clinic (this might not always be possible as a lot of camps/clinics are for squads only). Check local gyms, recreation departments, and colleges for cheerleading, gymnastics/tumbling, and dance classes to take.

Learn as much as you can from sources like books, videos, friends, cheerleaders, and the internet. Take some time every day to practice moves until you feel you're ready. Below are some areas to concentrate on: