Cheer Tryout Tips To Make Your School’s Squad

How To Make The School Cheer Squad

Cheer tryouts are exhilarating. Even for seasoned cheerleaders, it’s an exciting and stressful experience. If you’re new to cheer or wondering whether or not you should tryout this year, absorb the information in this article before talking yourself out of what could be a life changing opportunity.

Any cheerleader will tell you that some of her best years were the ones she spent with her cheer squad. The friends you make, the confidence you build and the discipline you develop will all shape you into a well-rounded person. Whether you go on to a leader or a pivotal team player, you will take your cheer experiences with you through the rest of your life!

Should I tryout for cheerleading?

Too often girls on the fence of joining cheer get stuck in this simple paradox of not feeling confident, athletic and/or flexible enough to do cheer. However, the best way to get good at cheer, is to cheer! If you know you want to do something, there’s no sense in putting it off.

Utilize sites like this and YouTube to get familiar with beginner cheer moves and tips and follow these basic cheer principles to safely and successfully start your cheer journey.

Remember, trying out this year (even if you don’t make the team) will get you that much more ready for future tryouts!

When are cheer tryouts in high school?

From grade school on up, cheerleading tryouts can vary greatly from the summer before the initial start of fall sports (football cheer) to as early as January. Each school district will have its own process in terms of mandatory meetings, clinics, camps and tryout dates and times. In order to ensure you’re eligibility to tryout for your local squad, reach out to your local school district or cheer director for all necessary dates and times to ensure you have plenty of time to prepare!

What to bring to cheerleading tryouts

If you don’t want to show up in cheer apparel, you’ll want to bring a backpack or gym bag to carry your essentials as well as appropriate cheer wear. You will definitely want a water or other refreshing drink to stay hydrated and keep your throat clear and ready to cheer.

What to wear to cheer tryouts

For cheer tryouts, it’s best to wear form fitting shorts and tees/tanks and a sports bra to give you the best range of motion and flexibility. You will also want to be wearing cheer specific shoes to give yourself the best traction for your performance.

Carefully read over all provided information or check with the organizers to ensure adherence with all color requirements (ex: black shorts, white shirt, white cheer shoes, hair in ponytail, etc.)

Tools to prepare for cheer tryouts

While you don’t need to be a flexible yoga master, it does help to be flexible when it comes to cheerleading. If you can’t do the splits yet, you should use something like this door strap to help stretch out your legs.

And you’re going to be doing a lot of tumbling. A LOT. Landing on your ankle the wrong way, or twisting it a little, can take you out of the running for your squad. Build the strength in your ankles and wrist with this nifty tool. It will help make them stronger and less susceptible to injury.

Cheerleading tryout tips

At all levels, there are steps you can take to prepare for a successful tryout. When you only get one shot, you can never be too prepared. Depending on the level of competition, you will likely want to start preparing your mind and body months in advance. The more confident you are in your strength, flexibility and routine, the better you will perform. Always make sure to stretch before a tryout, hydrate to keep your body and throat ready to cheer and relax to come off happy and confident.

Junior High

At this level, unless you know you are in a competitive cheer group, it’s best to focus on easy cheerleading motions, performing each movement cleanly and executing confident and exuberant cheers.

Remember to always smile and that the judges don’t know your routine, so if you mess up, they likely won’t notice if you just keep going!

High School

It’s time to take your preparation and commitment up a notch! If you are serious about cheer, you’ll want to start stretching, exercising and eating right months before a tryout (if not full-time). You also need to nail your routines. Always smile through missteps, but put in the advance work to easily memorize cheer routines to avoid costly mistakes.

Another tip is to take notes. What separates the great from the good isn’t physical attributes, it’s the extra work they put in to studying the art of cheer. Treating cheer like a class is the best way to perfect your movements, your spirit and each individual performance.

Work on your spirit entrance. Coming into your tryout confidently with spirit will avoid a dreaded awkward entrance and help you hit the ground running for your tryout. Make an amazing first impression and don’t stop impressing by practicing your cheer tryout entrance.

Solidify your performance by perfecting your cheering. What to focus on to perfect your cheering:

  • Be loud – Don’t focus on singing. In the noise and energy of an event, it’s your responsibility to not only be heard but to add to the energy.
  • Be positive – Big smiles and great spirit is what coaches are looking for when putting together a cheer team (in some cases, more so than technique and skills). Bring a big smile and a lot of positive energy to your tryout to win over the judges.
  • Show your personality – Through your cheers and mannerisms, you want to make the judges feel, how the judges want their fans to feel.

College

– For college tryouts, it’s all about nuance. All college cheerleaders will likely have a similar physical and technical skill set, so it comes down to the little details that separate the girls that do or don’t make the cut. This doesn’t mean it’s not important to take the basic steps to prepare yourself as best as possible. Start stretching, exercising, eating healthy and memorizing the routine(s) months in advance.

Other steps you can take include:

  • Introduce yourself to the cheer staff before your tryout. The more exposure a coach can have to you, the more opportunity you have to convey your personality and talents. Look to network with members of the squad, coaching staff and athletic department. 
  • Ask questions. You can never be too prepared or too informed. Going out of your way to ask questions about the squad, school, coaches and tryout particulars, can give you an edge.
  • Pay attention to the team’s game day “look” (hairstyle, makeup, accessories, etc.). Limit any barrier possible to your judges seeing you on their squad. If that means watching game film or asking questions to find out their teams game day look, that’s exactly what you should do to show that you’re the perfect fit for the squad. 
  • Set yourself up for success by overly preparing the night before so that you can come in relaxed and confident. Have your outfit and everything you’re going to take with you to the tryout ready the day before. Make sure you have the time down and have reliable transportation to the tryout location. Get plenty of sleep and be sure to eat and drink soothing foods and beverages that won’t upset your vocal cords. 
  • Let your personality shine. Whether you have an interview or you can express yourself in your intro and performance, these little details are going to set you apart from the rest.

What to expect at cheer tryouts

All cheer tryouts are different, so gathering all of the necessary information early will help eliminate any barriers to a great performance.

The typical cheer tryout will be held in the evening when coaches and judges are available. To avoid any potential weather issues, most tryouts are held indoors at a school gymnasium, but others may occur on a track or field. Getting to know the surface with which you’ll be trying out on will inform you where you should be practicing your routine.

Tryouts are judged typically by the cheer coach. Other judges can include team captains, assistant coaches, athletic directors and others involved in the cheer program.

Tryouts can take a few hours and parents are not always aloud to attend, so it’s best to be prepared to be dropped off and picked up within a 1-3 hour time window.

You may be taken to a separate room to audition or you may be performing in front of all aspiring cheerleaders.

Tryouts can be intimidating, but utilizing this information and taking the right steps to prepare for cheer tryouts will give you everything you need to successfully make the cheer squad with no experience.


Willis is the founder and inventor at Stunt Stand. When he's not thinking of new ways to help cheerleaders train safely, he's hanging out with beautiful white kitty Pearl.

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