School Tryout Tips!

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It is that time of year that everyone starts getting ready for their school tryouts. There is nothing more rewarding than making your school team and representing your school as a cheerleader! Most girls and recently many boys want to experience cheering at a competitive or even a non-competitive school. Band chants, pom poms, Friday night lights, pep rallies, practices, and championships are all priceless experiences, but what exactly does it take to make the team?


I helped pay for college by coaching kids trying out for schools and could pretty much guarantee my students would make the team. At the time I worked with most of the schools and knew exactly what they wanted. I worked with the best athletes that I wanted on those teams. I learned very quickly that being honest with the student and the parents was the most important factor in training, success, and satisfaction with my lessons.

I remember telling one young lady that making cheerleading may be more challenging than she was thinking. Most of the other girls had taken gymnastics and cheered all stars for years while she was just getting interested as a beginner. Tryouts were only a few weeks away! As her eyes started swelling with tears, I told her not to worry. Making the team will not make your life better, but reaching a goal will. I told her that we should set some goals for tryouts, and then let’s set some long term goals for her as well. she told me that she did not care if she made it, but she wanted to give it a shot!

She worked harder than any other student those next few weeks. She nailed all the motions and got the choreography for tryouts perfect. We worked hard on those things as the acrobatic skills of tumbling and jumping can not be safely mastered in mere weeks. She did not make the team that year, but she was extremely happy with her scores and she placed much higher than expected. She decided to spend the next year focusing on the athletic tumbling and jumping skills she needed to have for the following year’s tryouts.

She was the highest score the next year. She went on to cheer all the way through high school and became the captain. This great athlete went on to cheer in college! She will tell you that I helped all of that happen and she learned so much, but I will tell you something very different. She taught me more about the process than anything else.

First, we all know it is nearly impossible to work for two weeks and catch up with people that have worked for years, but you can easily outwork them in that time and focus on what will give you the best shot. Hard work and heart serve as a great equalizer when you are competing against talent.

Second, using a tryout as a learning experience instead of viewing the tryout as one shot and it’s over not only pays off, but can help make you a great athlete! What she learned from that tryout, she mastered in the gym the next year while most of the girls did not even start working again for tryouts until a month before the tryout date. This allowed her to not only catch them, but to pass them!

Third, a training plan is not only important, it is imperative for safety and success. Every parent and student should expect their coach to work with them on a training plan that fits the current state of the student while working towards the long term goals. If that means training for a year and trying out again, that is what the coach and student should do.

Fourth, she taught me that in cheerleading, anything is possible. No one expected her to ever make it, and she became the school’s best athlete. As a coach, it would have been easy for me to tell her to try another sport, or to charge her for privates while just throwing her over in back handsprings to make her happy. I could have just said that there was no need to continue working, but realizing her dream and her goal helped me make a long term plan that I had not done in the past. Now I realize that a plan is the first thing you should talk about when starting your adventure!

Finally, she taught me that the other girls better watch out! At this school it was very rare for someone to make the team that was not on it before. When she made it her second year of tryouts, she bumped one of the most talented and successful girls off of the team. That girl thought she was going to make it easily and did not prepare for the tryouts. That girl never cheered again.

At CMC our coaches are trained to work with the students and come up with a safe and effective plan to help them reach their goals. If your goal is to make your school team follow these steps for success:


  1. Start training long before the tryout date. The longer the better. Weeks are better than days, months are better than weeks, and years are better than months. Any goal worth achieving takes time, commitment, and hard work.

  2. Do not think a coach is a golden ticket. I chuckle every time I hear moms say, “You have to work with ___________, everyone that makes it works with her!” Trust me, I am a great coach, and I have never made any athlete make a team. Working with a coach is a lesson. Then you go back and spend time on what they told you to do. If you make that team, you earned it through hard work and talent. The coach was no secret and was only a small factor in your placement.

  3. Lessons are important but gym time is more important. The more you work on the skills, the more confidence you will get. You need to put in some serious gym time, and most of that should be working on your own.

  4. Opt for classes over privates and use privates to supplement classes, not vice versa. Classes are more like tryouts and show you what you will be competing against. A private is great for working on problems, but practicing is often more efficient and less expensive in classes. If you have to choose one, choose classes!

  5. Athletic skills win tryouts. I have judged thousands of tryouts, and I have a theory. I have stated that I could line up the 50 girls trying out for an all girl team and watch each of them do one toe touch. I told them I could choose the team based on that one jump. A year later, I put that to the test. I watched 62 girls trying out for 20 spots on a junior high team do one toe touch and chose the 20 I thought the judges would take. These were great judges! I was wrong! I missed one girl. ONE! 19 of the girls I chose made the team. Why did this work? Because a cheerleading toe touch is not a natural action. You must have strength, flexibility, and coordination, and most of all, you must have trained to perfect this skill. An athlete with a great toe touch most likely is a good tumbler and has confidence to make the team! Work on athleticism.

  6. Do not base your happiness on becoming a school cheerleader. If you do not make it this year, cheerleading has tons of options for people that do not make their school team. You can always join a class, join an all star team, or attend camps and clinics. Some of these are even more fun and rewarding than cheering at school for some students. If you want to become a cheerleader at your school, you can! It just may take more time.

  7. Be healthy in all aspects of your life. Cheerleading is a very physically and emotionally challenging activity. You need to be in tip top shape and focused at every practice. A healthy and strong athlete always has an edge over the competition! Eat healthy, get rest, stay hydrated, stretch, and stay in shape.

  8. This is possibly the most important tip! Cheerleading is extra curricular. That means it is something that you do outside or in addition to your school work. Many schools have teacher recommendations and grade requirements. There is nothing more upsetting to me than seeing a talented cheerleader get cut because they did not do their job in the classroom! Be a good manager of time, and focus on grades. If you can not do that, do not bother trying out because it will not make school easier for you.

  9. Last but not least. Never give up! After coaching the girl in this story, I have seen it take others two or three years to reach their goal, but I have never seen anyone not reach the goal that worked hard and never gave up! You can do it, and you will with hard work and dedication!

Good luck and happy training on your quest! Make the experience positive and rewarding. CMC is now offering tryout classes and programs, and we are doing something that is unheard of! We are offering a total gym access pass for only $115 a month. Train at the gym as much as you want for the whole month for this one low fee. If you would like more information on this or any other school tryout programs please visit us here: