Cheer Coach Tips
These progressions are referred to many times in
cheerleading. They are also found in the Spirit Rules book from the
National Federation. NO partner stunt should be attempted until each
individual skill in the progression is mastered.
- Step – up drills
- Double – base thigh stand
- Double – base shoulder stand
- Single – base shoulder stand
- Extension Prep, step off dismount
- Cradle drills
- Extension prep, cradle dismount
- Press Extension, return to shoulders, cradle
- Press Extension, cradle dismount
- Full extension, Step – up Liberty
- Ground up Liberty
- Braced liberty – tick tock
- Skills to cradles (i.e. toe touches & twists)
- Basket toss drills (“rides”) – remember these
must be done on a matted surface
- Basket toss skill execution (i.e. toe touches) –
must be done on a matted surface
Importance of Stunt Progressions
love to stunt! The best reward I could give my cheerleaders was time to
just work on stunts and come up with new ideas and sequences. However,
most of the older ones wanted to immediately jump in to basket tosses
before the new squad members had mastered basic skills. This is where
teaching stunt progressions comes in to play. Cheerleading stunts
should be taught in progressions from easy to hard and low to high. If
a base can’t catch an extension, then he/she has no business trying to
catch a basket toss. Most athletes have thankfully never been seriously
injured or have seen others seriously injured, so they don’t always
realize the potential danger involved with sports. As coaches, it is
our responsibility to make sure everyone is educated about safety, that
we determine the proper ability level of our squads, and that we decide
when it is safe to move on to more difficult stunts. We have a legal
duty to provide a standard of care when supervising our squads, and
stunt progressions are an excellent way to document that you have used
reasonable care when educating your squads.
you do start? The Basics!
Building a level of trust is essential for a successful cheerleading
program. No one wants to fly on bases that aren’t consistently
successful, nor do bases want to work with a flyer that doesn’t execute
skills consistently. Cheerleaders have to consistently react
immediately and accurately during stunting. Each time a person comes
down in a cradle, the bases need to automatically respond quickly and
correctly, so that everyone is safe. This development of movement
memory is best done through repetition of skills.
cheerleaders may object to starting with basics such as thigh stands.
However, it is important for all of those involved in the stunt to
develop movement memory, and thigh stands incorporate skills for both
bases and tops. Bases have to have their hands placed correctly, just
as flyers have to know how to hold their weight correctly to make the
bases more comfortable in their positions. Back spots need to know how
to adjust to changing situations just as they do in a basket toss. Once
they have mastered basic skills, they can move on to the next level.
As a coach you can best protect your cheerleaders and yourself by
having written documentation of the skills progressions of each
individual cheerleader. I created a chart that had each skill with each
cheerleader’s name. I then would check off the skill if the cheerleader
could successfully perform the skill at least five times consistently
(10 is better), and I would check off what position the cheerleader
performed. The differences between being a side, a front, a back, or
the flyer can be significant, so I also keep track of which position the
cheerleader has successfully and consistently performed. Once these
basics have been mastered, the cheerleaders can then move on to the next
skill. FYI - These check off sheets need to be kept in your files along
with other important documents for five years after graduation.
Instead of listing a progression list, I have copied the skill
progression lists link recommended by Varsity, COM. There are other
lists out there that you can use as well. Just be sure take in to
account the ability levels of your squads. Remember, safety is the
Back to top
By Jeanne Ehn
following ideas are tips for cheer coaches and their cheerleaders to
keep crowds going in a positive way at games.
TO THE CHEER COACH:
- Teach &
Practice expectations by working through game situations at practice.
The cheerleaders won’t know your expectations until you teach them.
Figure out cheers to use in certain game situations, then have the
cheerleaders rehearse it at practice so it won’t be new at a game. If
the situation comes up during the game, they should use the
appropriate cheer. Note the ideas to the cheerleaders below – again
talking through situations and practicing the ideas help your
cheerleaders know your expectations.
- Educate your
student body about
expectations at a game. Work with your AD/principal with this if
possible. Set up a special pep rally for “fan education,” or better
yet, make fan education a part of every pep rally. Teach the students
call back cheers, the cheer everyone should do if there is a
“disagreeable call,” and good sportsmanship tips. Ask your
administration to tell students what will NOT be tolerated like
jumping on the bleachers or taunting the opponents or officials.
- Educate your
parents about expectations
at a game. This will work at a community pep rally or even at a
pre-season parent’s night practice. Be sure to talk to the head coach
to get permission to do this, or ask your AD to arrange it for you.
Ask parents to be leaders in the stands; this is something everyone
can work on improving.
- Keep it
simple. Cheers that the
crowd loves can be repeated often.
TRADITIONS. By doing the
same thing before the game starts, or at certain points in a game,
will help your cheerleaders develop traditions that the crowd enjoys
and participates in. This keeps the crowd following your lead and
demonstrating great team support and sportsmanship.
- Teach the
following ideas to your cheerleaders.
You as a coach cannot cheer for them,
but you can guide them in how they cheer.
- Have a Game
Plan. Meet at halftime to
make improvements the second half.
TO THE CHEERLEADERS:
- Know the
Rules of the Game for cheerleading AND the game in which you are
rules are laid forth for your safety. Respect them. You will gain a
lot of respect from your team and your crowd by doing the appropriate
cheer at the appropriate time. I.e. – Don’t do a defense cheer when
the team is on offense.
professional. Chewing gum,
talking and laughing with each other, ignoring your job (cheering &
leading the crowd) will turn a crowd off. They will decide you don’t
care enough, so they won’t follow.
approachable to the crowd.
Be at the game early to warm up and be prepared. Take time to talk to
them or explain a new chant before the game begins. Tell the crowd
when they’ve done well and followed you.
- Use strong
voices & make eye contact with the crowd.
This shows confidence. If the crowd can’t hear the cheerleaders, they
have no reason to follow. The same goes for eye contact. Look at
everyone in the crowd. Not just a small group of people such as a
group of friends. The crowd will feel ignored if you just cheer to a
- Use signs &
ponpoms. Use the poms and
their colors as if it were a sign (raising one color in the air and
then the next) if you would be doing a chant with your school’s colors
in it. Poms can attract a lot of attention and can be fun to help
get the crowd fired up. Use signs so the crowd knows what to do or
- Repeat each
chant at least 3-4 times.
It takes that many times for the crowd to catch on to what you are
doing. Once they start chanting with the cheerleaders, continue 2-3
- Chant while
the team is in the huddle during football.
Starting a simple chant like “Go, Go, Go…” when the down is fourth and
one and the team is in the huddle will have a lot more impact than
during the play itself.
- Start a chant
before & while taking the floor for a time out
during basketball. Valuable time is wasted if cheerleaders
wait, plus the emotion may have peaked and that is the opposite of
what you want to have happen.
- Cheer often:
at least every other play. This will not only keep you mentally in
the game, but your crowd is more likely to follow. You should cheer
between EVERY play when the game is very close or momentum is starting
- Let anyone
start chants when necessary.
During a game many of the chants are probably started by a captain
or someone with more experience, but when the game is at a pivotal
point, the most important thing is keeping the chanting going so
anyone should be able to start a chant: even if you repeat chants.
Practicing/Rehearsing this in practice will help everyone be ready for
- Urge the
Crowd by talking to them.
“Yell with us!” “Louder!” “I can’t hear you!” And then
remember to praise the crowd when they follow your lead – thumbs up,
clapping above your head, “Good job, Comet fans!” (use your mascot)
IF SOMEONE BECOMES UNRULY:
can be the eyes & ears for administration.
While it is not the job of a cheerleader to remove someone from a
game, they certainly should notify/alert administration or the cheer
coach if someone is getting out of hand. It is not the cheer
coaches’ responsibility to remove someone, but they are adult and
verify what the cheerleader saw to the administration.
- Start a
traditional chant or a crowd favorite
when the call goes the other way and the fans disagree. This is where
your crowd education pays off from a pep rally. Everyone being vocal
in their own way only creates frustration for the crowd, the
officials, your team & coaches. If the crowd follows the
cheerleaders with a positive chant, the team knows the crowd is behind
them, the officials move on (lose the frustration), and the voice of
the crowd is still heard. This can be a challenge, but if everyone
can buy into this idea, it really works.
positive. It is NEVER
acceptable for a cheerleader to talk back/yell or make obscene
gestures at an official, someone from the other school, or someone
from their home crowd.
Back to top
Cheerleading is a busy sport, and a cheer coach
has a lot on his or her plate at the beginning of each season. Not
only do you need to juggle to demands of scheduling practices,
arranging transportation to games and events, and taking care of
administrative work, but you also have to get to know your squad. A
cheerleading handbook is a beneficial tool to use as you begin your
season. It explicitly lays out guidelines for your cheerleaders, and
states the school and coach’s expectations for the cheerleaders
throughout the season. The following is a suggested table of contents
for your handbook.
contact information and schedule (if the coach is a school employee)
of Cheerleading at your School
and Expectations (ICCA and Coaches)
and Event Schedule
Care and Expectations
for Failing to Abide by Conduct, Attendance, and General Rules
– the parent and cheerleader sign and date that they have read and
agree to the conditions of cheering at your school. This
form gets returned to the coach.
Always make sure to get your handbook approved by
the athletic director or administrator at your school so that you have
their support as you start your season. By creating this handbook and
requiring your cheerleaders and parents to sign and agree to it, you
are ensuring yourself a successful season. Cheerleaders and parents
will know exactly what to expect of you as a coach, and you will know
exactly what to expect of the cheerleaders. The handbook is a great
way to establish yourself and your dedication to the squad from the
very first day.
Back to top
By Kenna Johnson
"The best coaching jogbs are in orphanages because there are
no parents there."
Any coach who has not had to deal with a difficult parent is a
LUCKY one! In our own minds, we can all picture that
"difficult" parent; while that description may vary from
situation to situation, there are a number of strategies that
may help out the situation, taking that parent from "difficult"
If you are confronted by an unhappy parent, consider taking the
* Avoid discussing the problem at the game.
This is not the place for confrontations as emotions typically
run quite high.
* Agree to meet at a more appropriate time and place. Find
a mutually convenient time and place to meet. This way it is a
one-on-one conversation without others observing or adding fuel
to the situation. It also allows the emotions to cool, along
with allowing you a little time to prepare for the situation.
Face to face communication is best as phone conversations often
get one-sided. Also, include another person in this parent
meeting to help keep the meeting on track.
* LISTEN! Do
not interrupt the parent. Simply allow them to state their case;
this will help the parent understand the situation is important
to you. Do not interrupt! Interruptions tend to inflame the
* Don't become defensive. Allow
the parent to state their entire case. Also nodding and/or
taking notes may be helpful.
* Show understanding for the parent's position. Statements
like "I'm sorry that you feel your child has been treated
unfairly" are appropriate.
* Clarify the situation and offer a range of situations. Focus
on the problem, stick to the facts, and avoid being caught up in
unrelated issues. Then find out what the parent truly wants.
Avoid making promises you cannot keep. Instead explain to the
parent what you can and cannot do. If there is no resolution,
let the parent know that it may be necessary for their child to
find other activities to engage in.
* Obtain closure. Leave the parent with a
closing action statement, giving the parent a timeline of
seeking a solution. Thank them for their interest and set up a
follow-up meeting if necessary.
* Leave the door open. Invite further
communication if desired.
Most importantly, you cannot be too careful these days. Make
sure to establish a good
system of communication as early as possible, making clear
your expectations, requirements, etc. For an individual and a
team to succeed, parents and coaches must work together. We're
all here for the student athletes, so everyone must get along!
Keep the lines of communication open and everyone will have a
Back to top