Keys to Leading a Successful Cheer Squad
Being voted captain of your cheerleading squad means much more than just winning a popularity contest. It means that your teammates trust you to lead the squad and set the tone for your season. It also means that you have some additional responsibilities, and while those may not be the same for every squad, there are some common duties that every cheer captain should be prepared to fulfill. Among those are...
Be a Role Model
Perhaps the most important responsibility you have is to demonstrate appropriate behavior to your team. This means being an energetic, enthusiastic, and well-practiced cheerleader, but it also means being a good student and a good citizen of your school. Politeness and patience isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth the effort. Your team, your coaches, the faculty, and the student body will be watching you more closely and holding you to a higher standard of behavior than those around you. Make your best effort to live up to those expectations for the good of your team.
Fundraising is usually facilitated by the cheerleading captain. Nonetheless, be sure to include the whole squad in the planning and organizing of fundraisers. You’ll get much better participation and raise the most money possible when every member of the team feels like they have an important role in the success of your campaigns.
Warm Up and Stretch
As cheer captain, it’s your responsibility to prepare your squad for practices and performances with a warm-up and stretching session. No one enjoys doing this. Do it anyway. You’ll enjoy the injuries and pain that come from not doing it even less.
Create a pre-practice/pre-game routine that includes aerobic exercise to warm up the body and maximize activity followed by stretching exercises to promote flexibility. Be sure to include a post-game/practice stretching session, as well, to help prevent injuries.
You should have a plan in place to prepare for the week’s performances. Consulting with the coach and co-captains to come up with routines is a huge part of the job. During a game or performance, you may be required to call out cheers, as well, so be sure to have a concrete plan that you’ve committed to memory for each event.
As mentioned earlier with fundraisers, you’ll get the best results and squad participation when you include the entire team in planning routines. Of course, your coach may have a lot to say about routines, but if you can show each member of the squad that their favorite cheers and routines are being included at various times throughout the year, you’ll have a much happier more spirited squad.
One of the hardest jobs you will tackle as cheer captain is conflict resolution within your squad. No job is easy but leading a group of admirably strong-willed cheerleaders can be trying for anyone. The best way to handle everything that comes your way as captain is to take a deep breath, think before you speak, and consider the feelings of the person you are speaking with. As much time as a cheerleading squad spends together there will be bumps in the road. Remember, as captain you are partially responsible for moderating any disagreements within your team. Keep conflicts to a minimum by defining acceptable behavior early in the year and being a fair, neutral party that your fellow cheerleaders can come to for support.
Map Out Success
If you want to go the extra mile for your team, set squad goals for the year and keep track of the progress. Bring the squad together and make a chart of things you want to accomplish with your teammates throughout the year. Agree on realistic, achievable goals and organize a celebration for your squad each time a goal is reached. As a cheerleading captain, you will have many opportunities and responsibilities that so many cheerleaders only dream about. Be respectful of your squad and humble about your position because without the support of your team nothing will be achieved.
Be a Leader, Not a Loner
One more thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to do everything yourself. Enlisting the help of your co-captains and even delegating some jobs to members of your squad will lessen your workload and offer your cheermates an opportunity to grow into leadership roles.
Delegating jobs to your co-captains and communicating with the cheerleading coach require exceptional people skills.
Never let the responsibility of being cheer capting take the fun out of being a cheerleader. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, remember that you’re surrounded by friends and that you became a cheerleader because it's something you love to do. If you aren’t having fun, chances are your teammates aren’t either.