5 Things Coaches Look for at Cheerleading Tryouts

Cheerleading / Saturday, May 7th, 2016

5 things coaches look for at cheerleading tryouts

Trying Out for the Squad

Let’s be honest, I did not have the most ideal cheerleading tryout session of them all. But it’s my story, and I’ll own it. The next year I attended tryouts I was there as demonstration for the cheers and dances. Then I got to help teach the people trying out the material they’d be performing for the coach and captain. This was always fun.

Eventually I became captain and got to ‘judge’ the cheerleaders trying out. I got to decide who got to make the cut. And let me tell you something.

It’s completely nerve wracking!

Being in the position to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to someone is very difficult. Because you want to make everyone happy, you want a functional squad with potential, and you want a team of people who will mesh well together. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration.

I wanted to share some of my tryout tips for anyone who is a cheerleader or has a potential cheerleader in their life in need of some encouragement. Tryouts shouldn’t be overwhelming like mine were. I was a shy, little girl who didn’t know anything at all. But now I am an ex-cheerleader/captain/coach who has some knowledge and want to share in hopes of helping a future cheerleader.

Cheerleading is a fantastic sport because there are so many different elements to it. Dance, Gymnastics, Stunting and then the Cheering. You can be really adept at one, all, or none and still make a team. It’s all about attitude.

Even the greatest were once beginners, don't be afraid to take the first step.

Remember, I started as a cheerleader after I watched a movie. At my tryouts for a semi-professional squad I was still a technically a complete newbie. I learned everything as the years passed and my skills advanced.

I should note that on my squad we weren’t required to let anyone on the team. We could decline anyone from being on the squad for whatever reason we wanted… well, no discrimination, obviously. But let me tell you, we never said no to someone because they didn’t have a skill or know how to do the cheer perfect.

No kidding, hey? I always advertised that there was no experience necessary when trying out for my squad because I could teach it to you. There isn’t anything a dedicated cheerleader can’t learn if they want to. This is what goes through a coaches head.

And these 5 things are what coaches and captains DO look for at cheerleading tryouts.

5 things coaches look for at cheer tryouts

5 Tips

  1. A Smile. Any facial other than a frown and angry face. Look like you are enjoying yourself, because we want you to be. If you aren’t why are you at tryouts? Smile at the coaches, give them a wink and show them that you are already a cheerleader in spirit, you just need to learn the skills. No coach is going to take the time to teach a cheerleader how to smile.
  2. Don’t Give Up. If tryouts is your first attempt at cheering, ever, then chances are you’ll have said something to someone and your skill level will be understandable. However, your determination level will still be judged and if someone gives up because they can’t learn a cheer or dance, why would they make a good cheerleader? Do you know how many times a stunt group repeats the same stunt over and over because they just ‘can’t get it’. You continue working at it, not giving up. Change that can’t into haven’t. “I haven’t gotten it yet”.
  3. Practice. Is there a tryout clinic? Can you look up some basic motions online to practice before tryouts so you can follow along easier? Are you able to ask a senior team member to mentor you at all? Is there a water break during tryouts? Instead of sitting on your tush while taking a sip, take a swig and get back out there and get in some extra practice. That is the kind of worker mentality any coach would bring onto a squad in an instant. A hard worker, someone who takes the initiative to better themselves on their own.
  4. YELL LOUD! Caps because who doesn’t read caps as your little brain voice yelling? Anyone can yell, it’s a major requirement for being a cheerleader. Do you know how quickly I used to put a big check  mark on a tryout sheet when a girl actually used her voice and yelled? Super fast. Don’t be shy and think being quiet is cute, it isn’t. Be loud, and be proud. I still need to learn how to control my volume when I get excited and I’m 5 years out!
  5. Be Yourself. Show your personality and get to know who some other people are. Being friendly and showing you can be yourself is what makes a squad click. It can be scary, but these people are going to be your second family when you make the squad. Try to get friendly and realize they are regular people who are also nice. Not scary.


These are the 5 things myself and my coach looked for in a potential squad member at tryouts. It was never about skill level for us. Anything can be taught if there is enough determination and motivation. These things above though, they are things that can’t be taught, and are excellent qualities of a cheerleader. Having skills is an asset. 

If you’re trying out for a competitive team then tryout requirements will be different as you need to compete at your level. But for a brand new cheerleader at school or on a recreational team, these 5 babies will get you where you want to be. Let me know how these worked out for you, if you made it, and what your mascot is in the comments below.

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