Trying Out to Be a Cheerleader

Cheerleaders are more than just girls who can kick high and yell loudly. As with most extracurricular activities, cheerleaders are expected to maintain a minimum grade point average to remain on the team.  What's more, many schools consider the cheerleaders to be the ambassadors of the school — at games and events, the cheerleaders are likely the first school representatives that other people see; they are expected to be friendly, extroverted, and respectful.

The cheerleading season might last from the first football game in August to the last basketball game in March, and then you might participate in tryouts for next year's squads. It's a long season, and a huge time commitment. During the season, you might practice for several hours, several days a week. If you'd rather be involved in other activities or get a part-time job, cheerleading might not be for you.

The cheerleader's skills

A good cheerleader is confident and skilled in the following areas:

  • Stamina: Cheerleaders not only stand for the entire game, they do a virtual aerobics routine that lasts from up to 30 minutes before the game until the last buzzer sounds. You have to be in great shape.

  • Strength: When performing pyramids and other complex moves, the cheerleaders at the bottom need to be strong enough to support the weight of those on top. Male cheerleaders have to have strong enough arms to lift their female partners over their heads.

  • Flexibility: You'll see good cheerleaders kicking their legs higher than their heads or going from a jump straight into the splits. Obviously, you need to be limber and flexible to avoid injury (and pain).

  • Precision: A good cheerleading squad performs their movements in unison. You have to be able to memorize the moves and perform them with your team.

  • Gymnastic and tumbling ability: Cheerleaders do back-to-back handsprings, long series of tumbles, and jumps that rival a gymnast.

  • Dance: Many cheerleading squads combine dance with cheering. You must have natural rhythm.

Before the tryouts

When you first hear about cheerleading tryouts, find a minute to approach the coach (most likely it's a teacher) and let him or her know you're interested. If you've never met this teacher before, introduce yourself. Ask what he or she looks for in putting together a successful cheerleading squad. Ask for tips about tryouts. Be outgoing and enthusiastic and show your interest.

Next, practice. If the cheerleading season is still going on, go to a game and sit as close to the cheerleaders as you can. Study their moves and memorize their cheers. Practice your yells, your flips, your tumbling, and your kicks. Be prepared.

Do some homework. Know the history of your school, from when it was built to how many state championships it holds. As previously stated, a good cheerleader represents the school; the more you know about and care about your school, the better your chances.   

Trying out

Most schools hold cheerleading tryouts toward the end of spring, so the new squad will be chosen before the summer vacation and, in many instances, so they can attend a summer camp. At the tryouts, remember these tips:

  • Before you try out, make sure to warm up. You want to get your blood flowing and your muscles limber.

  • Be enthusiastic. Push your nervousness aside and be energetic, make eye contact with the judges, and keep smiling.

  • If you forget your cheer, don't freeze or stop cheering. Consider yelling your team name, "Defense!" or "Take that ball to the end zone!" Whatever works for you.

  • Be loud. Don't scream, but remember you need to lead the screaming crowd, so you have to be heard by them.

  • Don't be afraid to look stupid. While you might feel like a fool standing by yourself, kicking and yelling your heart out in front of a teacher or upperclassman cheerleaders, if you want to get on the cheerleading squad, you have to play the part.

Boys can cheerlead, too

Increasingly, cheerleading squads are co-ed. The boys assist the girls in lifts and even lead cheers of their own. If you're a boy interested in cheerleading, inquire about tryouts, and don't be ashamed. Cheerleading is hard work, and you might be surprised to discover that the male cheerleaders are as physically fit as the football players.