New seasons are always rough, and for coaches, there’s usually some trial and
error involved. What you saw at tryouts was the first indication if your vision
for next season–you know, the one you’ve been thinking about for the past year
over LAST season–might actually become a reality. You will be moving and
shaking up spots, stunt groups, and even skill levels; you might have to push
some returning cheerleaders harder than the year before. But, bottom line, the
only way to grow your team is to get innovative. A new team means there are new
possibilities to consider, new options that weren’t available to you until now!
However, it may be hard to get creative facing changes head-on, so here are
three things that might make the transition a little easier.
1. Embrace your new members. You
might have lost your top flier or your best tumbler to aging out or leveling
up, but that doesn’t mean you’ve lost more than you gained. You caught a
glimpse into the skills of your new members at tryouts: now it’s time to see
what they really can do! Move around the floor plan. You’ve had a routine in
mind–how can you craft it? Start small, like brushing up on the basics at the
first couple of practices, and take note on which new members are sharper,
stronger, and more flexible. With the right encouragement and exercise regimen, you
can boost these new members into the roles you need!
2. Don’t scrap last season altogether.
Just because new doors are opening doesn’t mean that you can discard last
year’s team dynamic for the bigger and better. You’ve had a lot of cheerleaders
carry over from last season, and they are accustomed to their stunt group,
their spot, their friendships. As a coach, you want to make them the best
cheerleaders they can be, but you also don’t want them to get discouraged or
upset if you separate them from their team BFF. Coaches have to make the tough
calls sometimes, but a good rule of thumb is, "if it ain't broke, don’t fix it,"–if
it worked before, let it be! EVERYTHING doesn’t need to change.
3. Realize you actually have to
adjust to two new teams. With
a new group of cheerleaders on your team, that means you have a brand new set
of parents to work with off the mat. Staying on good terms with parents is
important, and cheer parents are especially hands-on! Make sure you let new
parents to the team know when, where, and how they can communicate with you,
and what they can do to help the team over the season. Cheerleading can be an
intimidating activity to dive into headfirst, so make sure new parents feel
welcome, reassured, and in the know at all times. Be transparent, friendly, and
understanding! There’s also that moment when last year’s parents find out that
their kids are no longer front and center when you’re forced to shake up the
routine to include new members: stay calm, explain the logic behind your
decisions, and stay true to your convictions. Whether you like it or not, you’re
the team mediator in more ways than one, so always try to remain approachable
for both your team members and their parents.
What else can cheer coaches keep in mind
to make adjusting to a new team dynamic more fluid? Share what worked for your