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 team!