New Coaches’ Survival Guide

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Becoming a new cheerleading coach can be overwhelming. Whether you were hired at the end of the school year or the beginning of a new year, you probably have a lot on your mind as a teacher, businessperson, mother, etc. Here’s a guide to help you get on your feet as a new coach and a timeline to keep you on track!

  • Contact your local service reps. Your Varsity Spirit Fashion Representative can help you with all of your cheerleading needs. From reserving space for your squad at camp to ordering your new uniforms or camp wear, they are your local expert! Find your Varsity Spirit Fashion Representative here!
  • If your team doesn’t already have one in place, create an Emergency Plan. Before you do anything, you’ll need to figure out what to do in case of an emergency. You’ll need to know important personal and medical information about each of your cheerleaders. You’ll also need to come up with a detailed plan of action in the event of an injury.
  • Do your best to prevent an injury from happening. Your new squad may tell you that they want to work on full ups, but you’re better off starting small. Take them through the appropriate stunt progression, starting from the most basic skills and progressing to the most advanced. Don’t allow them to move onto the next progression until they show proficiency in a skill.
  • Find out more about cheerleading safety and protect yourself as a coach. Visit the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Advisors (AACCA) website to find a safety course in your area to become an AACCA-certified coach. Get a copy of the AACCA safety manual to learn about how to create a safe environment for your cheerleading squad and to understand your legal liability as a coach. Visit AACCA at aacca.org.

Now you’re ready to start your year! Regardless of when you begin, this timeline will help you stay on top of your game.

Spring

  1. Get ready for a new season…It’s tryout time!
  2. Hold a mandatory parent and cheerleader applicant meeting.  Use this time to go over what your expectations are, how you will run your program, the amount of money they can expect to spend, and what dates they need to mark off on their calendars. This way, they know what they’re getting into.
  3. Contact your Varsity Rep to schedule your Consult and Fitting!  Early planning means that you can share new designs, upcoming costs and the required Fitting date with your parents and prospective new team members!
  4. Give the tryout packet to your graduating senior cheerleaders to take home and learn the material to teach the applicants.
  5. Hold your clinic and mock tryouts.
  6. Confirm the names and addresses of your judges, and request their checks to have at the tryout.
  7. Make numbers for the applicants to draw for the order that they will tryout. Don’t draw for the order until right before the tryout begins — this will prevent any misunderstanding.
  8. Tryouts — Sit back and enjoy!
  9. Announce your new team.
  10. Sign up for a one-day clinic to get the team started with the basics and bonding before you go off to summer camp.
  11. Return to your normal cheer coach life for yet another year!

Summer

  1. The week before summer camp, have a few practices to get the team together and ready to go.
  2. Do you have all the apparel you’ll need to kick off the school year? Now is the time to order uniforms, Game Day garments, and warm ups.  Double check to see if you need to order any fill-in uniforms or carryover garments.
  3. Give out your campwear and shoes. Encourage the girls to wear their shoes before they leave for camp to break them in.
  4. Have parents sign up to assist in taking the cheerleaders to camp — and bringing them home from camp.
  5. Summer Camp — Bring your lawn chair and your thinking cap.  You are going to learn so much in three days at summer camp!
  6. Once camp is over, give the girls a note that has all of your summer workouts to keep them in shape — and the dates of practices for the fall and competitions that you plan to attend.
  7. Check out your state’s athletic association’s website for the dates of their upcoming coaches’ conferences and clinics.
  8.  Turn off your phone, unplug your computer, and enjoy the summer with your family!

Fall

  1. Plan for “Back to School” practices. You should have between five and seven practices to be sure the entire squad knows all of the football game material.
  2. The key to a successful year is communication! Make effective communication with the administration at your school a priority by sending a letter to your Athletic Director or Principle explaining your team’s mission and safety standards.
  3. Set aside one day of fall practice to make all of the signs for the entire football season. Put them in LARGE trash bags and tag them to identify which game you’ll be using them. Don’t forget to include two rolls of tape to hang them.
  4. Plan fun, exciting pep rallies to keep school spirit up throughout the season. You’ll have 10 or more pep rallies to plan throughout the year, and Pep Rally in a Box makes it easy!
  5. Make your education a priority. Find out the dates of fall coaches’ clinics for safety and partner stunting education.
  6. Register for a fall competition.Competition is a great way to for your cheerleaders to earn the recognition and respect of their fellow athletes and peers. The experience itself is exciting and it’s a great team-building opportunity. Find competition information and register for a competition on Varsity.com!
  7. Ask your Rep how you can transition your team’s sideline style into a competition look by adding metallic accessories and a coordinating bodyliner.

Winter

  1. Attend a one-day clinic to learn new basketball cheers and dances.  Have a couple of practices dedicated to making the transition from football to basketball season.  Find out more about cheering for basketball!
  2. Plan your tryout date and secure the gymnasium.
  3. Basketball season is the perfect time to switch into a court-friendly shoe.  Take inventory of your team’s footwear and contact your Varsity Rep for more basketball styles.
  4. Decide what type of camp best suits your squad.  Whether it’s becoming a more cohesive team, mastering a stunt, or learning to believe in yourself, Varsity can help you accomplish it! All Varsity Spirit camps are staffed with top quality instructors, and our talented staff is here to help you achieve your personal best.  Every team is different.  That’s why several different types of camps are hosted throughout the summer.
  5. Call your State Director and reserve your space for summer camp.  No money is due until two weeks after the tryouts, but you’ll be able to present the mandatory practice and camp dates to interested cheerleaders at your very first tryout clinic meeting.  Camp dates are available online in the beginning of January.

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