How To Coach Youth Cheerleading: 10 Tips

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Cheerleading is a dynamic activity that can help kids and teenagers build confidence, get exercise, and have fun. For many former cheerleaders, coaching youth cheerleading is a dream come true! But being an effective coach requires a lot of dedication and hard work. Whether you’re the only one on staff or overseeing several coaches, there are a few things to consider when you think about how to coach cheerleading. These ten coaching youth cheerleading tips can help you build a winning squad.

1. Set Yourself Up For Success

As you begin coaching cheerleading for beginners, set yourself up for success by considering your goals when learning how to start a cheer squad. Are you simply providing training or will your squad compete? Will they cheer for youth sports teams? Develop a plan and establish an age range to target.

From there, set up your space and purchase all of the equipment necessary for a safe practice. Tumbling mats, mirrors, and music speakers are all must-haves if you’re coaching youth cheerleading. Once your facility is up and running, host a clinic! This is a great way to build interest ahead of tryouts (keep reading for more on that topic).

person typing on a computer

2. Nail The Tryouts

Hosting cheer tryouts is key to creating successful cheer squads. This is the best way to divide everyone up by ability level, which leads to safe and productive practice sessions. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Organize and plan how long tryouts will run
  • Advertise with an eye-catching flyer
  • Share important details with parents in the form of a welcome packet
  • Register your cheerleaders in order to gather important information
  • Create an easy routine for cheerleaders to perform during tryouts

Need more info? See our post about cheer tryouts for examples of score sheets, flyers, and much more.

a cheer team

3. Consider Your Ability Levels

When you organize a schedule for your classes or teams, it’s important to divide them up by ability level. Coaching cheerleading for beginners will look different from coaching a high school squad. Beginners need more attention as they try to master the basics. As you think about how to coach cheerleading for this group, consider jumps, kicks, and basic tumbling. You may also start to introduce short dance numbers. 

On the other hand, those who have been cheerleading for a while should continue to hone their skills while also advancing. Choreograph more sophisticated and complex routines. Tumbling and stunts may be intermediate to advanced. This may open the opportunity of open a cheer tumbling classes for different skill levels in the future.

ribbon dancers twirling ribbons

4. Put Together A Cheerleading Practice Plan

A practice session is most productive when there is structure in place. With this in mind, it’s wise to have a cheerleading practice plan for each of your classes. It doesn’t have to be anything formal. Jot down a sequence of events to keep everyone productive and on track.

While every practice will be unique depending on age and ability level, consider the following flow:

  • Warm-up with stretching, conditioning, and a short jog
  • Jumps and kicks
  • Tumbling
  • Stunts
  • Choreography that combines all of these elements in a routine

As always, don’t forget to cool down at the end of practice! This can be another sequence of stretches while you talk to your squad about any important announcements.

a cheerleading class on a mat demonstrating a routine to a teacher

5. Stay Positive With Feedback

One of the best things about cheer is that it’s all about staying upbeat! After all, you still see the squad rallying a crowd, even when the team is losing. It’s important to model this type of behavior by maintaining a positive attitude.

When you’re coaching youth cheerleading, it’s your job to help your squad perform to the best of their abilities. That means providing constructive feedback on a regular basis, whether or not they need improvement. Approach feedback individually to make it effective for each member of your squad. Remember, a one-size-fits-all approach usually doesn’t work!

Above all, motivate and inspire your squad to keep smiling and you’ll have a group that thrives during every practice.

a mother and a daughter looking at a mobile device together

6. Focus on Safety First

Safety is one of the most important aspects of coaching youth cheerleading. First, set up a space that lends itself to a safe practice. Common flooring materials include rubber, foam, and cork. While some gyms use carpet or vinyl to save money, these options are less durable. Cheerleading safety mats will be another important purchase, regardless of age or ability level.

Further, emphasize the importance of a good warm-up. When your muscles are warm and flexible, you can reduce the risk of an injury. Remember to use a spotter when necessary, especially if your cheerleaders are trying to master new stunts or tumbling maneuvers.

To dive deeper into this topic, commit to taking a class. USA Cheer provides a Youth Safety & Risk Management Course, as well as a basic Coaching Young Athletes course. The NYSCA Coaching Youth Cheerleading program also provides many resources for coaches.

a cheer leader with their hand in the air

7. Create Consistent Rules

There’s nothing more distracting than people walking in late or ditching practice altogether. Lay the groundwork for a productive and successful practice with some important rules. Cheerleading is a team sport that depends on each person, especially when it comes to stunts and other activities.

Develop guidelines regarding tardiness and absences to keep everyone on task. Find a way to enforce the rules while still acknowledging that life happens. People get sick and issues come up. Try to provide framework without becoming unreasonable.

cheer tumbling practice

8. Challenge Cheerleaders At Practice And Competitions

Being a cheerleader means always being up for a challenge. As you think about how to coach cheerleading (with this in mind), find ways to push your squad to the max. That means giving them brand new routines, stunts, and maneuvers that will keep them on their toes. This is the best way to hone current skills and learn new ones.

As your squad gets better, consider entering them into a competition. This gives them a goal to work towards and a reason to stay motivated at each practice! Expand on their skills and keep them excited about trying new things.

dance competition performers on a stage

9. Provide Plenty Of Inspiration

Sometimes all it takes is a little inspiration to really light a fire! Watching other cheerleaders at the top of their game can help encourage your squad to shoot for the stars.

Whether it’s the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders or a high school squad winning every national competition, observation can do a lot. Host a watch party and let your cheerleaders discuss.

cheerleaders on a field

10. Be Prepared From The Start

While you chose this career because you love the sport, coaching youth cheerleading is still a business. Start from a place of organization to ensure your success.

Studio Director offers unique cheerleading management software that can help you automate and streamline administrative tasks. From marketing emails to online registration forms, Studio Director makes it easy to run your business. Other key features include:

  • Recurring or one-time online payments
  • Uniform management
  • Competition registration
  • Newsletters
  • Class schedules

Our solution makes the business of running your gym easier. This will help keep you out of the office and on the floor with your squad, right where you want to be.

Join Our Newsletter and Stay Up-to-Date

As a cheerleading coach, especially if you’re a new cheerleading coach, staying updated on the latest trends and techniques in the industry is paramount. Subscribing to our newsletter about Coaching Youth Cheerleading gives you access to ongoing lessons that can help you excel in the youth coaching world.

We understand how important it is to make practice fun for the kids while ensuring a safe environment, and as parents sign their kids up, they look for a great coach who knows just how to do that. Our newsletter can provide advice from other coaches, inspirational cheerleading quotes, and examples of how they keep things fun while teaching a new skill.

Being a cheerleader coach is a big deal, and one thing that sets apart a good coach from a great one is the ability to introduce a new skill in an engaging manner. So, stay connected with us and stay ahead in your coaching journey.

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