Cheerleader auditions can be almost as nerve wracking for coaches as they are for anyone hoping to make the squad. Whether you're trying to organize an audition or strut your stuff at one, the best way to ensure success is to prepare as well as you possibly can.
The Day of the Audition
The day you've waited and prepared for has finally arrived: It's time to try out for the cheer squad. By now you've likely prepared for try outs for several weeks if not months, but there are still a few things to keep in mind that can help you wow the judges on the actual day of tryouts.
From the minute you arrive to tryout practice the judges and coaches are taking stock of you. Arrive on time and looking your best for each and every practice on the day of tryouts. Wear comfortable, well-fitting cheerleading shorts. If you own a shirt with your school mascot and colors, wear that as well. If not, wear a plain T-shirt preferably in your school colors. Put your hair up in a high, neat ponytail and wear a bow featuring your school's colors. Paste a smile on your face and enter the room with a spring in your step. You want those who will make the decision about who joins the team to see that you are excited to be present at the tryouts. The judging process begins the moment you walk through the door.
When it is your time to perform the cheers you've prepared, focus on smiling, being energetic, and making eye contact with the judges. If you make a mistake in the routine do not stop, say "oops," or run crying from the room. Instead just smile and keep performing. In some cases, the judges may not even notice the mistake if you have a lot of spirit and entertain them. If the cheer is something you've been asked to prepare on your own the judges won't even know exactly how it should go, so your mistake will be less obvious. If allowed, use your tryout time to show off any skills you have in tumbling, dancing or jumping.
Dos and Don'ts for the Day of the Auditions
- Be energetic and attentive to the people running the tryouts. They are initially looking for a cooperative spirit and positive attitude.
- Relax and be yourself.
- Be sure to eat healthy meals at regular intervals so you don't grow woozy from lack of food. At the same time, try not to within an hour of tryouts as some people have nervous stomachs and the last thing you want to do is grow ill during auditions.
- Be sure to take time to stretch and warm up before the auditions begin. This includes a vocal warm up so you are ready to shout the cheers out.
- Be respectful and attentive to the other people trying out. You'll want them to do the same for you.
- When it's your turn, make the most of the moment. Make your movements crisp, breathe deeply, project your voice, and most of all smile!
- When announcements are made about who made the cut, remain pleasant whether you made the squad or not. Don't gloat about making the team or pout if you didn't. You may want to try out again next year, so leave everyone with a good impression.
Coach's Audition Checklist
Tryouts don't just happen by themselves. They take a lot of planning to make sure everything is ready when the big day comes. Make sure all of your bases are covered by following these guidelines.
Choose a Location and Plan Your Meetings
Schedule your meeting place six months ahead of the audition dates. This will ensure you get your first pick location to hold tryouts. Since many schools have a full sports schedule, finding time to practice in a gym or hold tryouts can be a challenge if you don't get on the schedule early in the year.
Get the parents involved. Schedule a parent meeting for interested cheerleaders and their families in the weeks before tryouts begin. Explain the kind of time commitment each cheerleader will need to make, as well as the typical practice and game schedule. Be sure to include info about any expenses the families can expect to incur for uniforms and travel, and provide a written summary of squad rules and expectations. This is also a good time to find those parents who are willing to help the squad with fundraising and events.
Forms and Advertising
Provide each parent with a release and waiver form to fill out and sign. A well done form protects you and the cheer squad in the event of injury or accidents. Advertise the cheerleader auditions one month in advance of the event. This will help you draw in the greatest possible number of applicants and increase your chances to choose from the cream of the crop to fill out the squad. Utilize flyers, the school newspaper and daily announcements to get the word out.
Schedule an announcement day to either post the list of those who were accepted or meet with the group as a whole. Try to remain encouraging to any applicant who didn't make the squad this year, and offer general tips for improving an audition next year.
Enlist the help of current squad members to run the tryouts. They should be willing to attend all the training sessions in order to teach the newbies several cheers and other basic skills that will help them show their potential at the auditions. Plan to attend practice sessions to make sure everything is going smoothly. It doesn't hurt to enlist the aid of a couple of current squad parents to provide more adult presence, especially if an emergency situation arises.
Form a judging committee to help. Three sets of eyes are better than one.
The Day of Tryouts
Arrive early the day of the actual auditions to make sure the space is properly prepared and all equipment is in place. Have a sign up sheet ready, as well as audition forms to use for each applicant. It's useful to assign numbers to keep track of everyone. The forms should offer a space for each applicant's name and number, and a space to score each one on a basis of one to ten for each basic skill. Score on a point-based system for skills such as jump technique, general cheer attitude and the ability to remember the routine. If the tryout group is quite large, divide the auditions into two or three day sessions to allow adequate time for each participant. You'll feel fresher yourself by breaking auditions up into several sessions.
Choose enough cheerleaders that you can afford to lose three or four and still have a large enough squad. It is almost a given that at least two or three cheerleaders will wind up with schedule conflicts that pull them away from the squad. When tallying up the scores and deciding who makes the cut, ask your squad for input. They've worked closely with the applicants and can tell you who has put in the most work and will likely make a real "team player."
Practice and Planning
Nothing will make you feel more ready for a cheerleading audition than plenty of practice and planning. If you're confident in your skills and certain that you can make a good impression, this confidence will show outwardly and the coaches will notice. If you're on the planning end of the auditions, try to foresee any problems that could crop up and plan accordingly. Whether you're auditioning or putting the tryouts together, get a good night's sleep the night before the auditions so you'll wake up feeling refreshed.