For those of you preparing for college cheerleading tryouts this weekend or in the near future, I wanted to give you a few important tips to help get you through the process! I’ve been through it 4 times now and I know how big of a deal this weekend is and believe me I know how stressful it can be!
Whether you’re trying out for the University of Kentucky or a local community college, here are a few pointers to keep in mind as you attempt to make the cut and land a spot on your dream team.
1. Look the part: You will be judged on appearance, so make sure your outfit, hair, and makeup all look clean and professional. Hair should be completely out of your face (no distracting bangs/flyaways) and you should have no other distracting wardrobe malfunctions. Pick an awesome shade of lipstick to brighten up your face and get enough sleep so you look well rested. Each team has a specific “mold” that they want, so it’s important to research and find out what they desire prior to tryout day.
2. Confidence: Whether you feel it or not, look confident! There’s a good chance you’re going to be super nervous, but ‘fake it til you make it’, put a smile on. Act like it’s second nature for you to be out in front of the crowd performing. Some of you will already be naturals at this, but if you are anything like me when I first started, it will take some getting used to! Be loud and interactive in the ‘cheer’ section of your tryout, this is one of the most important parts of your tryout!
3. Be a Team Player. Smile, make friends, and be social. Remember there is no I in TEAM people! There is nothing more important than building relationships with the people on your ‘potential’ squad and learning how to work with different types of personalities (after all, these people will be like your family for the next 4 years!). Cheerleading is all about working together because the more in-sync your team is, the higher your score. Coaches are looking for team players and problem solvers.
4. Keep it Simple. As far as skills go, stick to what you are confident in performing and what you know you can hit consistently. Think about it this way – would you rather see a clean front handspring up or a double up that lands back on the ground where it started? I’m not saying do not do hard tricks, definitely show them what you got, but be real with yourself girls! Plan everything out ahead of time so you can visualize yourself hitting each stunt on the mat. Positive visualization is very helpful, I would always use this before competing or performing.
5. Be Coachable: Some of the best cheerleaders/athletes I know are the ones who are willing to learn and take constructive criticism. Girls.. college cheerleading IS NOT competitive cheerleading and you will be expected to make adjustments and adapt. There is a 100% chance you are going to have to change your technique in several of your skills when transitioning into collegiate cheer. Everyone’s situation is different, but if you’re going from all-stars to coed here are 2 tips you’ll probably hear at least 15 times this weekend: Keep your shoulders back, and stop trying to balance on your guy, that’s not your job!
6. Calm Your Nerves. Remember, your performance in the tryout is important, but the coaches will be watching you all week, so be sure to make every practice ‘tryout material’. If you do have any kind of tumbling or stunting blocks PLEASE, please avoid these at tryouts. Coaches do not like to see headcases during tryout weekend. Like I mentioned above, positive visualization is great for calming your nerves as well as good communication with all your stunt partners. (Read your favorite bible verses before performing for a little confidence boost and meditation!)
7. Mimic the Veterans. I first started coed cheerleading a few months before college tryouts, so I had close to no experience. I gained so much technique-knowledge from just simply watching the older girls who had been on the team for a while. I watched them closely when they stunted and applied the exact technique I saw them doing in my own stunts. Watch the veterans closely at tryouts and take notes! Again, cheerleading is all about symmetry, so the more similar everyone’s technique is, the better you’ll look as a whole.
8. Interviewing: Be yourself and be personable. Every squad’s interview process is different, but be sure to prepare answers to basic questions ahead of time. Why will you be an important asset to the team? What motivates you? Why did you choose to try out at ______? Think of the interview process as just one on one time with your potential coaches. Also, dress professionally. This means either a formal dress & blazer, or a skirt/pantsuit with heels (usually closed toe). Make sure you can walk normally in the heels and that your dress is at a comfortable length on your legs while sitting down.
9. Most importantly, decide if it is the best decision for YOU personally. Take this weekend to get to know your potential future teammates and coaches and decide if it feels like ‘home’ to you. I remember how on the fence I was before trying out for Kentucky, but the first day I arrived at tryouts I knew it was exactly where I belonged. It didn’t even have that much to do with cheerleading aspect at the time, it was mostly the people and the culture. Do your research on the squad, talk to veterans on the team or alumni, and make sure you’re ready for the commitment. Being a college cheerleader is a full-time job!
10. Enjoy the Experience! I’ve learned so many important life lessons through kentucky cheerleading and this whole tryout process. I’ve also learned that I can be a complete head case sometimes and crumble under pressure, but I’ve also totally surprised myself in certain performances in the past. It has definitely prepared me for other tough interviews I’ve had. The key to a successful tryout is being prepared. Have confidence in yourself and GOOD LUCK 🙂 Let me know if you have any other questions!