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Game-Time Cheerleading 101

Now that cheerleading is a highly competitive sport that includes stunts and gymnastics, it is easy to forget why it was even created in the first place—to lead the crowd during events! Leading the crowd is still a huge part of cheerleading, especially at the youth and high school levels, and getting in front of hundreds of people is no easy task. Here are some pointers for how to pump up the audience and have fun doing it!

Remember Why You're There

Leading the crowd is still a huge part of cheerleading, especially at the youth and high school levels, and getting in front of hundreds of people is no easy task. Here are some pointers for how to pump up the audience and have fun doing it!

Lead the Crowd in a Pre-Game Cheer

There is nothing more motivational for the athletes than a crowd who is pumped up for a game from the very beginning! It is best to arrive at least 30 minutes before the start of a game in order to get the fans ready. Try playing a popular, upbeat song or perform cheers that encourage the audience members to get out of their seats and move around—do whatever it takes to get them energized and excited!

When the players come onto the field or court, lead the crowd in a short, powerful chant that the players will be able to hear. Make sure that your crowd is louder than that of the opposing team to show your players that you are rooting for them!

Actually Watch the Game

It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of a packed Friday night game, but remember to always keep your eye on the game. In order to lead accurate cheers, you have to know what is going on with the score and the players on your team. Since you are right in front of the stands and the players, both will be able to tell when you or your squad aren’t paying attention, so ALWAYS watch the game!

Part of your job as a cheerleader is to know game rules and terminology. If you aren’t familiar with football and/or basketball in particular, start doing your homework. Talk to the athletes and other cheerleaders until you understand the game and the terms used.

Hot Tip: Know When to Be Silent

Yes, it is true. Cheerleaders do need to be quiet sometimes. At certain points in a game, players will need both the audience and cheerleaders to be quiet so that they can concentrate. You must know when to cheer and when not to. For example, if a basketball player is getting ready to make a free-throw, the last thing you want to do is yell and distract them before the shot. Wait until they make the shot and then start cheering!

Interact with the Crowd

One of the best ways to get the fans involved is to interact with them during a game. During time-outs, half-time and other breaks in the game, go into the crowd and lead them in cheers. Keep the cheers short and simple so that the crowd can easily join in. You can also have younger members of the audience come to the front and cheer with you. Try to make it a fun experience for everyone.

Crowd response chants are also a great tool for getting the audience pumped up. For example, you say “Let’s Go” and ask the crowd to follow by yelling “Trojans.”

Use Props

In front of a large crowd, the cheerleaders can look like ants jumping around since they are positioned so far below some of the stands. To call more attention to the cheers, use props like pom poms, megaphones, signs, banners or even enlist the school mascot to help. These attention-grabbing props will get the crowd interested and raise the overall energy of the game.

Pom poms were invented in the 1930’s and were actually called “pon poms.” The name has been officially changed because of the frequent mispronunciation.

Shine at Half-time Performances

Half-time is your time to shine! You want to give a stellar performance that will make your school proud and the crowd excited. Pick a song that is popular and upbeat, so that the crowd can sing and dance along. No matter where you are performing, remember that you are representing your school. Give it your all and put on a great half-time show!

Basketball Games:

  • When performing a half-time routine at a basketball game, remember that space is limited. The basketball court isn’t very large, so keep your formations tight.
  • Take advantage of the close quarters and include some chants in your routine so that the crowd can feel involved!
  • Be careful when tumbling or stunting since the surface of the basketball court is very hard. If you have the option of laying out mats for half-time, do it!

Football Games:

  • The good news about performing on a football field is that you can spread and out and incorporate tumbling passes into your routine.
  • Unlike a basketball court, a grass field is soft and won’t hurt your hands when you tumble.
  • The football field is far away from the crowd so your routine has to be a real attention-grabber.
  • During the rainy season the field can get very muddy, making stunting and tumbling more difficult. Always keep the weather conditions in mind when putting together your routine.

Have Fun!

The most important thing you can do when cheering for a game is to have fun. If you aren’t enjoying yourself, the crowd will notice and that is no way to pump them up for the game! Don’t be afraid to let yourself get pumped up by the crowd, the school band and the overall experience of game-time cheering. Let the energy of from all aspects of the game motivate you, which in turn will help your team play their best!

Leading the crowd is still a huge part of cheerleading, and getting in front of hundreds of people is no easy task. Here's a handy guide on how to pump the crowd up.
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