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How to Ace Cheerleading Tryouts

At most cheer tryouts, the prospective cheerleaders are required to dance, cheer and tumble in front of a group of judges. It is completely normal to be both nervous and excited during tryouts, but if you come fully prepared you will be able to channel your emotions into a stellar tryout performance. Below is a list of ten tips that will help you ace cheerleading tryouts!

1. Know the Requirements

It is crucial to know what is required of you during tryouts. There are typically informational meetings held beforehand that layout what each prospective cheerleader must do in order to make the team. Be sure to take note of the skills you will have to perform and get info about the overall procedure of the tryout.

2. Practice Makes Perfect

Once you know what is required, practice as much as possible! There is usually a clinic prior to the tryouts where you can learn the dances, cheers and tumbling that you will perform for the judges. Simply learning the routines during the clinic will not be enough, so you must go home and practice until you are completely comfortable with the required skills—learn the routines inside and out.

Hot Tip: See for Yourself

Video tape yourself practicing and then watch the recording with a critical eye. Sometimes it is hard to know what you need to work on, but if you watch a tape of yourself you will be able to see where you excel and where you need to improve.

Don’t have a video camera? No problem, just practice in front of a mirror or have your friends watch you and give feedback.


3. Workout

You will want to be in the best shape possible during cheerleading tryouts, so try and start a workout routine at least one month in advance. Coaches want someone on their team who is athletic and takes good care of their body. Cheerleading is very physically demanding and judges will look to see if you are in the proper shape to endure the challenges of the sport.

4. Talk to People

Before trying out for a cheerleading team, you should talk to former and/or current cheerleaders to learn what exactly you are getting yourself into. Get details about practice schedules, competitions, costs, and commitment (among other things). You don’t want to waste your time preparing for tryouts if you aren’t even sure you want to be on the team.

5. Do Your Homework. . . Literally

Most cheerleading teams require their members to have passing grades or higher—in fact, most judges award extra points for a high grade point average. Joining any sports team is a huge commitment, and coaches want to know that you can keep up your grades even with a demanding schedule.

6. Have a Positive Attitude

The judges are looking for someone who seems upbeat and energetic. Walk into tryouts with a smile and your head held high. A positive attitude goes a long way.

7. Don’t Beat Yourself Up

Tryouts will probably not go perfectly, no matter how well you prepare or how hard you try. Don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake—it happens to everyone. Judges will notice if you get upset and it will probably reflect poorly on your score. If you miss a dance step or bobble on your tumbling, just keep going and keep smiling!

8. Learn How to Tumble

Tumbling is a huge part of cheerleading. Most teams require at least the basic skills, but the more difficult the tumbling skills you can perform, the better. That is not to say that if you can’t tumble, you won’t make the team, but it is definitely an advantage. If you know about tryouts in advance, enroll in a weekly tumbling class. Get yourself familiar with basic skills and aim to learn a round off back handspring.

If you already know how to tumble, spend time before tryouts perfecting your skills or try out some of the more advanced maneuvers.

Remember to always take safety precautions. Do not tumble without a spotter and always practice on mats. To ensure that you are learning the correct body positioning, go to a gymnastics or cheer gym for lessons.

Incredibly ... 98% of all female cheerleaders are former gymnasts.


9. Come Prepared

On the actual day of the tryouts, come prepared.

  • Have you hair pulled back out of your face
  • Wear proper attire and be sure to avoid bagging clothing because the judges need to see your motions and body positions. Clothing should be athletic in style and fitted
  • Do not wear jewelry or anything else that could be dangerous while tumbling or stunting
  • Warm up
  • Keep makeup to a minimum
  • Remember to bring the necessary forms and paperwork
  • And last, but not least, don't forget water. . . tryouts can be grueling!

10. Be Confident

As a cheerleader, your #1 job is to lead the crowd, something that takes a lot of confidence and self-assurance. The judges and coach must be able to tell that you are confident and comfortable in front of people.

Not sure how to show confidence?

  • Be assertive, smile and maintain good posture
  • During tryouts you will have to cheer, so make sure your voice is heard
  • Make eye contact with the judges
  • Pretend like the judges are the crowd at a football game and your goal is to make them have fun and enjoy the game

Own it!

Basically, walk into the tryouts like you were born to be a cheerleader! With practice and preparation, solid skills, self-confidence, and a good attitude, there's no reason why you cannot make the squad.

But if you don't make it the first time, remember that it's not the end of the world. While you sit the year out, you can take dance and gymnastics lessons to brush up on your skills. If cheerleading is your dream, don't let anyone get you down. Come back the next year, stronger and better than before.

This guide gives you a list of ten tips that will help you ace cheerleading tryouts. Tryouts can be nerve-wracking, but with these tips, you'll be ready to impress.
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