New Cheerleading Coaches' Survival Guide

Becoming a new cheerleading coach can be quite overwhelming.  Most new coaches are hired either at the end of the school year or the beginning of a new year.  Either way, you probably have a lot of other issues on your mind as a teacher, businessperson, mother, etc.  Here's a guide to help you get on your feet as a new coach and a timeline to keep you on track all year long.

  • Contact your local service reps.  Your Varsity representative can help you with all of your cheerleading needs. From reserving space for your squad at camp to answering a stunt legality question, your rep is only a phone call away!  To make your first year even easier, here's what Varsity can give you: a library of cheerleading reference materials:  Advisor Manual; Camp, Competition, and One-Day Brochures; and a Summer Material Cheer Book.
  • If your team doesn't already have one in place, create an Emergency Plan.  Before you do anything, you'll need to figure out what to do in case of an emergency.  You'll need to know important personal and medical information about each of your cheerleaders, and you'll have to come up with a detailed plan of action in the event that one of them gets hurt.   Find out more and create your own emergency plan.
  • Do your best to prevent an injury from happening.  Your new squad may tell you that they want to work on stretch double-downs, but you're better off starting small.  Take them through the appropriate stunt progression, starting from the most basic skills and progressing to the most advanced.  When they show proficiency in a skill, allow them to move on to the next level (but not before that). 
    Find out more about cheerleading safety and protect yourself as a coach.  Visit the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Advisors (AACCA) website to find a safety course in your area to become an AACCA-certified coach..  Get a copy of the AACCA safety manual to learn about how to create a safe environment for your cheerleading squad and to understand your legal liability as a coach.  Visit AACCA at www.aacca.org.
  • Print these Sponsor Survival Tips and post them in a place where you can see them.  These little tips can help you be the very best coach you can be!

Now you're ready to start your year.  Regardless of when you begin, this timeline will help you stay on top of your game. 

Autumn
  1. Plan for "Back to School" practices.  You should probably have between five and seven practices to be sure the entire squad knows all of the football game material.
  2. The key to a successful year is communication.  Make effective communication with the administration at your school a priority by sending this sample letter to your athletic director or principal explaining your team's mission and safety standards. 
  3. Set aside one day of fall practice to make all of the signs for the entire football season.  Put them in LARGE trash bags and  tag them to identify which game you'll be using them at and include two rolls of tape to hang them.
  4. Plan fun, exciting pep rallies to keep school spirit up throughout the season.  You'll have 10 or more pep rallies to plan throughout the year...Here are over 40 innovative and fun pep rally ideas to get you started!
  5. Make your education a priority.  Find out the dates of fall coaches' clinics for safety and partner stunting education.
  6. Register for a fall competition.  Competition is a great way to for your cheerleaders to earn the recognition and respect of their fellow athletes and peers, and the experience itself is an exciting and team-building adventure.  Find competition information and register for a competition on Varsity.com!
Winter


  1. Attend a one-day clinic to learn new basketball cheers
    and dances.  Have a couple of practices dedicated to
    making the transition from football to basketball.  Find out more about cheering for basketball!
  2. Plan your tryout date and secure the gymnasium.
  3. Call your Varsity representative to get judges for your tryout.
  4. Decide what type of camp best suits your squad.  Whether it's becoming a more cohesive team, mastering a stunt, or learning to believe in yourself, Varsity can help you accomplish it.  All Varsity Spirit camps are staffed with top quality instructors, and our talented staff is here to help you achieve your personal best.  Every team is different.  That's why several different types of camps are hosted throughout the summer.
  5. Call your State Director and reserve your space for summer camp.  No money is due until two weeks after the tryouts, but you'll be able to present the mandatory practice and camp dates to interested cheerleaders at your very first tryout clinic meeting.  Camp dates are available online (Keyword: CAMP) in the beginning of January
Spring
  1. Get ready for a new season...It's tryout time!  
  2. Hold a mandatory parent and cheerleader applicant meeting.  Use this time to go over what your expectations are, how you will run your program, the amount of money they can expect to spend, and what dates they need to mark off on their calendars.  This way, they know what they're getting into.
  3. Give the tryout packet to your graduating senior cheerleaders to take home and learn the material to teach the applicants.
  4. Hold your clinic and mock tryouts.
  5. Confirm the names and addresses of your judges, and request their checks to have at the tryout.
  6. Make numbers for the applicants to draw for the order that they will tryout.  Don't draw for the order until right before the tryout begins -- this will prevent any misunderstandings with parents.
  7. Tryouts -- Sit back and enjoy!
  8. Announce your new team.
  9. Sign up for a one-day clinic to get the team started with the basics and bonding before you go off to summer camp.  Get ready for camp!
  10. Return to your normal cheer coach life for yet another year!
Summer
  1. The week before summer camp, have a few practices to get the girls together and ready to go. 
  2. Give out your campwear and shoes.  Encourage the girls to wear their shoes before they leave for camp to break them in and prevent new shoe pain.
  3. Have parents sign up to assist in taking the cheerleaders to camp -- and bringing them home from camp.
  4. Summer Camp -- Bring your lawn chair and your thinking cap.  You are going to learn so much in three days at summer camp!
  5. Once camp is over, give the girls a note that has all of your summer workouts to keep them in shape -- and the dates of practices for the fall and competitions that you plan to attend.
  6. Check out your state's athletic association's website for the dates of their upcoming coaches conferences and clinics.
  7. Turn off your phone, unplug your computer, and enjoy the summer with your family!

    Click here to see an example of an Emergency Plan
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