First of all, make sure you know what you are getting into. It is important to know what will be expected of you. There is a lot more to cheering than meets the eye. Find out about practices, camps, games, competition and anything else that your school does. If you aren't willing to do all of these and give 100%, then you shouldn't be trying out. If you want to do all of these things then here are some good tips.
It is important that you start practicing and getting in shape weeks before tryouts. You don't even have to know the date of tryouts to start preparing. So many people don't start preparing until the week of tryouts. Four days they work themselves so hard that on the fifth day, the day of being judged, they are so sore, they can't give their all. Don't be one of these people. Help yourself out.
First get off your butt and run around the block a few times. Cheerleaders need to have good stamina. Three minutes of straight cheering, dancing and yelling can be exhausting.
Next, stretch your muscles. Stand with your legs apart and reach for the ground. Reach over to your left leg, followed by your right. Do some lunges and work on your splits. Stretching is important. It increases flexibility and makes the body feel good. Also stretch your arms, neck, back, ankles and wrists.
Now you're ready to build some muscle. It is essential that cheerleaders have strong stomachs, legs and arms. Stomach muscles allow for awesome jumps. Leg muscles lift stunts and give you high flyin' jumps. Arm muscles make sharp moves and lift stunts also. So, do sit-ups, push-ups and run up and down stairs. Be creative. There are so many ways to get muscles.
Some teams require tumbling ability. This is definitely not a skill that can be learned four days before tryouts. Take a gymnastics class. Don't try to teach yourself. This can be very dangerous. If the team your trying out to be on doesn't require tumbling, still learn. It can only add points to your score sheet.
An additional way to be prepared is to take an aerobics class or jazz/hip hop class. This will keep your ability to catch onto dances quickly in check.
Week of Tryouts
Go to ALL practices held before tryouts. This is when you'll learn the cheers and dance that you will have to perform.
When learning a cheer or dance, be sure that you are in a good place where you can see what is being taught, instead of just sort of getting it in the back. Ask questions whenever you don't understand something. Don't feel bad if you don't catch on the very first day. Chances are you're not the only one having difficulty.
See if you can get a copy of the music for dances. (Do this on the first day of practice). Practicing with just counts is good, but you need to get familiar with the beat of the music. If you have the music you can practice at home.
PRACTICE as much as you can. If don't have time to practice physically, practice mentally. If you're sitting in the car or class (a real boring one) imagine yourself doing all the moves perfectly in your head. Even though it doesn't sound like it will help, it really does because it helps you to be able to remember the moves without thinking about it when you go to tryout.
Every time you practice, even when you are learning, do all the moves full out and hit every motion really sharp. This will help it become natural.
Many coaches run a mock tryout. This is where each person is given a chance to perform (not being judged) in front of the others who are trying out. This may seem scary, but it is very important that, if given the chance, you take the opportunity to practice this way. It will help get your jitters out and allow you to know what to expect for tryouts.
Day of Tryouts
Get plenty of sleep the night before so that you are full of energy. Don't spend the night worrying.
Have a good breakfast and lunch that day. You may not want to eat right before tryouts. You don't want an upset stomach. Oranges and water are a good snack.
Be dressed cleanly. This means shorts (not baggy, not too short) with a T-shirt tucked in. It is important to have your hair pulled back out of your face, and remember that some make-up is okay, but don't over do it. School colors are best to wear, but I am sure that the coaches will go over what they want to be worn. If they don't, ask.
When they open the door for you to go in, run, tumble, yell and smile! Show the judges all your enthusiasm.
SMILE! The judges want to see how much fun you're having. Don't have a fake smile though! The judges can tell when you aren't pumped up, you have to show them all your spirit.
Be loud when you yell. Have sharp, clear words. Make sure that the judges can understand you.
Have confidence when you are trying out. Even if you mess up or aren't sure, don't let the judges know it. They usually don't notice if you mess up unless you freeze and yell, oh no!! Just smile and keep going.
If you're unhappy with your performance don't show it until you get outside. Don't let the judges know. Chances are, you didn't do as bad as you thought you did.
If you don't make it, don't give up on being school spirited. You can still join other school activities along with supporting your school's cheerleaders. I wish you all the best of luck.
For more help, check out the sections on motions, jumps, cheers and tumbling.
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