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Where It All Starts: Prepping for the Tryout

Competition season is winding down, and coaches are more focused than ever on seeking new talent, retaining existing members and locking down choreography dates. The only way to start checking off these items on next season’s laundry list is to prep for the tryout because this, is where it all starts.

The tryout can attract the talented and fierce athletes coaches want and need to become a championship team — it is a necessity. Coaches run a tryout to evaluate the talent pool — even if there’s a no-cut policy. This allows them to establish a baseline on how the next season’s squad will rate on difficulty, experience and diligence.

The tryout also provides coaches a chance to connect their team to youths — who are what business leaders would call “the product” because them and their performance is what is delivered to an audience every competition or football game. That is why it is imperative for coaches to choose athletes that represent the organization’s brand and mission well. And there is no better way to figure this out then, with a tryout.

But planning a tryout can be stressful and time-consuming. Here are some tips on how to make this process a lot easier for coaches and more fun for participants:

Set the Right Date. Timing is crucial when planning a tryout. It is important to schedule dates and times that do not interfere with national holidays, school closures, milestone events and more. Coaches run the risk of not having a good turnout when scheduling a tryout on a conflicting date, forcing them to schedule additional dates to seek the most eligible talent out there to put the best team together. A delay in the tryout can also cause a “domino-effect” because it can hamper other important cheer events, such as the first summer practice, choreography, and stunt camp.

Create a Scoring System. Coaches should create a scoring system focused on the qualifications and attributes they find most valuable for cheerleaders to have on the squad. This can range from skill level, flexibility, stunt positions and personality traits (passionate, outgoing, friendly, helpful). With an evaluation system, coaches can keep focus on the type of squad they want during the tryout as well as make sure the process is fair and objective.

Host a Clinic. During a tryout, coaches score the participants individually based on their individual qualifications and attributes. However, a cheer clinic is great way to accurately evaluate stunting skills, especially, and get a sense on how the participants interact with one another — how they work as a team. Coaches can also observe how well the participants retain material taught to them and how they handle situations with a teammate when something fails, such as a stunt fall.

Cheerleaders are Promoters. The existing members are a marketing tool, and the ones who will attract others to tryout. It is important to provide existing cheerleaders with the right information to accurately and enthusiastically explain what your team does and what your team stands for to others. Get the cheerleaders excited about being part of the process. Have them be the promoters; encourage them to spread the word at community events and school fairs and provide them with incentives (gift card, free bow, no registration/tryout fee) when they bring a friend or two to register for the tryout.

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