One of our goals at Zero Deductions Productions LLC is to encourage, assist, and connect cheerleaders with college programs.
As a former collegiate cheerleader for both Weatherford College and Texas Tech University, I have put together a list of helpful tips on making a college cheer team.
Tip #1: Get to know the coaching staff, program, & school before tryouts.
Introducing yourself is the first step! This can be done via e-mail or in-person.
From there, communicate with the coach on a regular basis, attend as many clinics as you can (if offered), take at least 1 campus tour, and ask questions! Showing your dedication and commitment to a program prior to tryouts can help you stand out among other candidates.
Last, and most importantly, you need to get to know the school. Almost all junior college and university cheer programs have a GPA (grade point average) requirement to not only make the team, but to also maintain your spot on the squad each semester, and possibly a scholarship.
The number one priority in college is academics, so you want to make sure the campus, academic programs offered, and surrounding community are the right fit for you.
Tip #2: Give yourself options.
Limiting yourself to just one tryout can be risky and stressful. When you tryout for more than one college cheerleading squad, you give yourself a better chance of securing a spot on a team.
If you can only afford to attend one college cheer tryout, many programs offer a video submission option (no travel required)!
Tryout for at least 3 different schools to give yourself the best chance to continue cheering at a college-level.
Tip #3: Start preparing early.
It goes without being said that the earlier you start preparing for something, the better your outcome will be.
Exposing cheerleaders to college-level skills and techniques should roughly begin around their junior year of high school, if not sooner.
Our company, as well as many college programs, offer college cheer prep clinics and college cheer camps! These are great for learning a variety of college-level skills with cheerleaders and coaches who have the experience you are looking for.
If you belong to a local all-star cheer gym or live near one, you can inquire about private lessons with coaches who have college-level experience! Private lessons not only help athletes gain the skills they need for tryouts, but they can also be used to receive one-on-one feedback and assistance with your tryout material such as chants, cheers, what skills to throw, and more!
Tip #4: Perfect your tryout material.
Most college programs provide information about the tumbling, stunting, and other requirements prior to the tryout. Decide which skills you are going to perform at the tryout several weeks in advance, and focus on making those skills as clean and sharp as they can be.
If you belong to or live near an all-star cheer gym, you can inquire about private lessons with a coach who has college cheer experience! An experienced cheer coach can help critique your skills and assist you in deciding which skills you should perform at tryouts.
Rehearse your tryout material in front of peers, friends, and family. You want to feel comfortable and confident during the tryout, and the best way to do this is to practice your material in front of an audience. Not only can help boost your self-esteem, it can also decrease that tryout anxiety!
Tip #5: Look the part.
Your appearance is the first thing the judges and coaches will notice about you during the tryout. It's extremely important that you are wearing the correct attire. This shows the college cheer program that you are responsible and pay attention to detail.
Most cheer tryouts have some type of dress code or appearance requirement. You will want to ask the coach to confirm you have the correct clothes, shoes, and other accessories a couple of weeks before tryouts.
If the dress code is more generic, try and find some photos of the squad. How do the girls typically wear their hair? How much make-up do the girls have on? Are the guys clean shaven?
Wearing the correct tryout attire and capturing the "look" that the cheer squad typically goes for can have a major impact on your overall impression throughout the entire tryout!
Tip #6: Be Confident
It's very easy to go into a tryout and be intimidated by the other cheerleaders in attendance.
Many college cheer programs judge a variety of criteria, including presentation, attitude, grades, references/recommendations, interviews, etc. Some of the most talented cheerleaders in the world have been rejected by college cheer programs due to problems in the tryout process unrelated to the person's skills.
Don't compare yourself to the other cheerleaders trying out. Keep the focus on yourself and be confident in your own abilities.
Did you find these tips helpful? Let us know in the comments below!