Cheerleaders have a difficult job learning choreography, countless cheers, dangerous stunts, and all while staying positive no matter the score of the game or on the mat. To provide the most support for their teams and each other, they have to be strong as a group and physically on an individual level. Cheer practice isn’t the only way to develop these skills; there are many opportunities to build strength and stronger bonds between teammates. Try one or a few of these five ideas.

1. Sign up for a race. Sign up as a team for a 5K, a fun run, or a charity race. The squad can train together and get exercise outside of practice. If you choose to do a race for a cause, encourage the team to work together to raise funds for the charity or organization. On the day of the race, challenge your team to finish together. This will allow the faster team members to encourage the slower individuals, and teach the team to stick together instead of competing for individual accolades. Better yet, choose an obstacle race or team relay, where your cheerleaders will need to work together to complete the race.

2. Go rock climbing. Rock climbing is fun and challenging, and can be a great confidence booster for young boys and girls. Not to mention, in a survey of 3,500 Americans, rock climbing ranked second as the hobby people most want to try—so your cheerleaders may be especially excited for this team outing! The best part: it doesn’t just challenge physical skills; it also helps to build trust and communication among teammates. Since the person on the rock wall is depending on their partner below to make sure they return to the ground safely, it’s the ultimate opportunity for your team to work together. Challenge teammates to pair up with someone they don’t normally work with to make it even more impactful.

3. Host a self-defense class. Self-defense classes are fantastic for team building and allow participants to learn important, life-saving skills. Not to mention it’s an opportunity for your cheer squad to learn self-discipline, improve their balance and strength, and boost their confidence—all of which help them to be stronger teammates on the sidelines. The key is finding the right instructor, so look for someone who specifically works with kids or young girls. Someone who specializes in this area will likely be able to present the self-defense ideas more effectively to your cheerleaders.

4. Create team relay races. Head to your local park or beach for an afternoon of casual, fun relay races. Break up your team into smaller groups, determine the relay activities, and set-up some cones or a starting line. Activities might include running to a cone in the distance and doing 10 jumping jacks or five pushups, and then running back to tag the next person in. The first group to have every member complete the race and/or task is the winner. Bring snacks and drinks so everyone can refuel and relax after running around. Turn it into a family event, encouraging event parents to join in for a post-relay barbecue.

5. Play the hot lava game. If your squad is in high school or college, this will take them back to their elementary school days. They may have played this game in their P.E. classes, but it’s just as effective with older kids or teenagers. You can play in a gym, on a blacktop, at the beach, at the park, or in someone’s backyard. Have players line up in a designated spot, and mark an area a good distance away as the finish line or ‘safe zone’. The grass, ground, or sand between the players and the finish line is ‘hot lava’. The team must work together to cross over the hot lava and get to the finish line, but they cannot touch the ground. You will need some materials for this game like planks or bricks, or the rubber dots used in P.E. classes. The team can use these items and work together to cross the lava without standing directly on the ground. It will take creativity and a whole lot of teamwork, but your team will also have a lot of fun. Note that this popular team-building game is also called swamp crossing, toxic waste and alligator swamp. The rules may vary slightly, but the concept is the same.

Team-building activities give your squad the opportunity to build strength and bond with their teammates at the same time. There’s no limit to the activities you can try; the more creative you can be, the better. Start with these ideas or use them as inspiration to find something better suited to your cheerleaders.

                                                                                                                                                                                                       

About the Author:

Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than ten years and is currently a full-time freelance writer. She is also an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition specialist, and the owner of her own personal training business, Honest Body Fitness. Follow her Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for health articles, new workouts and more.