Odds are, you are around each other enough that you have become a family. Families don’t always agree (they may not even like each other!!), which can result in some inevitable fighting and bickering. Don’t roll your eyes. A picture-perfect family is a lie, so don’t even try to think you’re going to get that passed me.

If your family (aka, team) has waged war with themselves, do not panic. Do not bust out the riot gear. It is best to stay calm and try some of these tactics to have a peaceful result. Think about when you’re at work–it’s stressful. The same daily routine over and over is exhausting, and can put anyone on edge. A cheer team is no different.

1. Games. Break it up! Throw in some fun things, especially ones that rely on your cheerleaders working as a team. ‘Ships and Sailors’ is always a favorite amongst our cheerleaders. Team trivia, a dance off, or just turn on a random song when they think they are about to do another run-through and just watch them. Relay races, duck duck goose… I don’t care. All of these options are so simple, and sometimes just what they need to ease the tension.


2. Team bonding nights. Bake some cookies, have a movie night or a bonfire. We started a new tradition of a team dinner the week of competitions. You know, the week where all anxieties are sky-high. If you have a serious age gap on your team, this also helps. It forces them to interact outside of cheerleading (what? There is a world outside??) and to really get to know one another. Plus, it’s food. Come on, food solves everything.

3. Life talks
. Sit those athletes down in a circle. Talk it out. Ask how their day was; ask if there are things going on that you should be aware of. Encourage them to talk it out in a safe and civil place. Explain that once they get what they need to out, it’s done. Due to them not being adults, they can’t properly express themselves. They have to know it is okay for them to say how they feel as long as they do so in a respectful manner. It’s better to get it out in the open than to hold it in for it to eventually blow up like a bomb. For the record, we try to do weekly talks followed by meditating in the most obnoxious way.

4. Change it up! Is the stunt group the reason for the tension? Perhaps they don’t trust one another and don’t get along. Perhaps it’s just not getting up. You, as a coach, need to be okay with change. Switch it out a few times and see if it works better. That adjustment can save you an earful of teen drama in the long run. While you’re at it, break up the cliques: have the girls form bonds with other teammates.

There are times where we could have, as coaches, taken steps to help the situation and sometimes we just can’t. Recognize those moments that you see tension and address it immediately. Unfortunately, as the pillars of the family, we need to be incredibly observant and need to eliminate a problem before it gets too serious. Here are some tips:

  • Do not allow your athletes to individually call out another cheerleader. You are the coach, not them. No person on that team is perfect and they need to understand that immediately. You can’t call someone out when they are not perfect in every area themselves.

  • Understand you can have favorites. It’s inevitable. However, you need to hold them to a higher standard; push them harder than you push the other ones. Discipline them when they deserve it. Just remember to make sure each member of the team realizes you love them all equally.

  • Again, encourage open and honest discussions. It works for me, but it may not for you. You won’t know until you try. We treat our athletes like young adults. They are all held responsible for their own actions. In the beginning, we talk to them about bullying and peer pressure. After competitions, we discuss their score sheets and problem areas. It shows them respect. Most arguments stem from lack of respect towards another team member, a coach or a parent. When they realize what respect entails, you don’t have an excuse as to why they aren’t respecting another. 

  • Find what works for your team.They’re yours. Only you know what is best for the team as a whole. Do what you need to do to keep that family civil and happy. Do not let anyone convince you that your tactics are wrong. Who knows… if you listen to them, you may not find yourself on the brink of cheer World War I! 
Have you had to mediate with a team at war with themselves? Share your coaching tips in the comments!