It is that time of year again! Cheerleading tryouts are coming, and it is time to start preparing to make this year’s tryout the best one ever. Whether you are a seasoned veteran or a complete novice, there are several things that you can do to ensure that you get on the team you want this year. Cheerleading tryouts can be a time of great personal pressure and stress, but it is important for you to focus on self-care and managing your expectations. Great performances come from a place of calmness and control. Finding that tranquil head space can make a huge difference in your outward appearance during tryouts. This instantly makes you a more attractive candidate in your program; whether recreational, high-school spirit squad, or a competitive all-star program.
An Ounce of Preparation is Worth a Pound of Cure
Nailing that tumbling pass, or hitting a perfect switch-up is not easy – it is the product of hundreds, even thousands of hours of work. Make sure that you have done your work before you come to tryouts, and be honest with yourself about your abilities. If you have never thrown a back-handspring on your own, tryouts is not the time or the place to try it for the first time. Even if you do not have access to a cheerleading or gymnastics gym, there are a lot of exercises you can do to help get yourself into top shape before tryouts begin. Jumps are a major part of cheerleading, regardless of your level.
Enter With No Expectations
A lot of times the teams we make in all-star cheer are determined by our skills, especially tumbling. However, just because you can land a back-handspring or a tuck does not guarantee that you will make a level 3 or 4 team. One of the most important things you can do at tryouts is come in without a predetermined definition of success. Instead, come in and try to have fun and enjoy the process. Putting too much pressure on yourself to meet unreasonable expectations will not only make tryouts a lot less enjoyable, the pressure may be detrimental to your performance during the tryout period. Rather than saying you must be on the Senior Level 4 team, or make Varsity at your high school, go in with an open mind and no expectations or pressure on yourself. Once you relax and focus on just doing your best you might be surprised how well you do!
Put Your Best Foot Forward
The pressure at cheerleading tryouts can be relentless. Even if you have come in conditioned and ready to show off your skills, negative attitudes of the coaches running the tryouts or the other people competing for a spot might make it hard for you to stay positive. It is easy to get caught in a trap of comparison, and lose sight of yourself in the process. You must shake off all the stress and just focus on yourself. Come into tryouts with your head high and full of confidence, even if you are not feeling it. From the very first moment you enter the gym or walk onto the field the judging process has begun. Being a positive voice with a can-do attitude is a highly attractive quality for any coach: be the cheerleader who is there to be part of the team from day one!
Be Ready to Try New Things
You may have spent your whole life as a back spot and suddenly they are asking you to main base, or maybe you’ve been working on your flexibility and body positions, but suddenly they ask you to be a back spot. Rather than pouting, or being upset, accept the challenge and do your best. There is nothing wrong with being honest and letting them know you do not have experience in that position, but it is critical that you let them know you are willing to do whatever it takes to be on the team, and you are coachable. Your team needs an equal number of fliers, mains, sides, and back spots, and being willing to take on a vacant position makes you a more attractive option when the coaches are making their final decisions. If there are 6 people who are fliers and fliers only, but only 3 back spots, an athletic that is willing to back becomes a solid choice for the judges.
You may not realize it, but everyone is feeling stressed during tryouts. Coaches are worried that they won’t have a strong team the next year, the judges are concerned about making poor decisions, and the other athletes are all worried about their placement and performances. Focus on having a positive attitude and trying to help everyone around you. You would be amazed how many athletes shut down from the pressure of tryouts, and come across as being mean or spiteful. These are not attractive qualities for a team that has to work together all year. If you come in and are willing to unroll the mats before practice, or stay late to help someone review the dance afterwards, the coaches notice this. They know that those sorts of actions are what build a better team. Be the cheerleader that you want to cheer with at games or competitions!
There are many things you can do to help show a positive attitude and make yourself an attractive candidate during cheerleading tryouts. Little things like punctuality and kindness can go a long way. Don’t forget to have your paperwork in early, and be ready to take on any challenge the coaches offer to you. All the little details like eating healthy and getting enough sleep will also help put you in a place where you can be your best self. Most importantly, accept the decisions made once tryouts are over, even if you did not make the team you wanted to make. Try to get constructive feedback, and start working on improving for next year!