Junior Varsity (JV) cheerleading is the squad that most girls are on as they go into their freshman or sophomore year of high school. Some schools also offer freshman squads, and others combine both JV and Varsity because of small class size, but the majority of schools will offer JV and Varsity as the two options. JV squads offer beginning cheerleading at the high school level. Each school will differ on how advanced their junior varsity squad is. Factors like tumbling skills of the students who attend the school will play a role in which girls make the junior varsity squad.
Should You Try Out for JV?
Knowing whether to try out for varsity or junior varsity is important. Although most schools take high school juniors and seniors for the varsity squad, if you have a lot of cheerleading skills, you might be ready to try out for varsity as early as your freshman year. Start by getting a list from the cheerleading coach about what exactly is expected for JV tryouts. Most tryouts will want at least some of the following skills displayed:
- Cheer motions
Once you have a list of what the coach is looking for in a JV cheerleader, you will know if you meet or exceed those expectations. If you have any questions about specific skills, such as whether you must have a back handspring, you should discuss this with the coach. Each school is so different in the skills they require from their cheerleaders that it is vital to speak to the coach. One school may do competitive cheerleading as well and require tumbling, while another school may not look for tumbling at all.
Master the Basic Skills for a JV Cheerleader
There are some basic skills that most JV cheerleaders possess. If you plan to try out for your school squad, you'll want to work hard to master these skills. You must start at least several months before tryouts begin.
- Flexibility: You can improve your flexibility by stretching every day. More flexibility will help you achieve higher jumps and make some tumbling easier.
- Sharp motions: Practice basic cheerleading motions in front of a mirror. Make sure your arms are straight and tight and practice snapping them into a different position.
- Jumps: You'll want to work on the form of your cheerleading jumps as well as the height. At the minimum, you will want to be able to perform a toe touch, side hurdler and a herkie. It is better to do these three jumps really well than to worry about knowing every type of jump you can perform.
- Tumbling: A sharp round-off is likely a necessity for most squads. If possible, try to learn a back handspring as well.
In addition to the basic skills a JV cheerleader needs, some tryout judges conduct interviews and then look at everything from grade point average to personality and school spirit.
JV as Training for Varsity
JV is a good training ground for girls wanting to make it onto the varsity squad eventually. A junior squad will typically practice only a couple of days a week and not do as much traveling as the varsity squad. By joining a JV squad first, you can be certain that you want to put in the time commitment and dedication required to become a varsity cheerleader.