5 Qualities of a Great Cheer Coach
As a cheer coach, you’re in charge of a lot of big decisions that can either make or break the outcome of your team’s performance.
You can have the most physically gifted athletes in your town, and dedicated cheerleaders who are willing to sacrifice their personal time for the team. But if you’re coaching skills aren’t up to par, that team will be stonewalled with problems.
Here are five crucial coaching qualities that will help you maximize your team’s potential.
Great Cheer Coaches Are Detailed Planners
The season rolls in hills and valleys. Sometimes you’ll have a week without performing and then three competitions back-to-back. If you fail to plan for the road ahead, you will exhaust and possibly hurt your team.
To avoid injury and exhaustion, schedule physical breaks before a performance. Athletes need rest. Denying them rest can lead to body-damaging mistakes come game time. Spend the day prior to competition coordinating and stretching.
Preseason workouts are a simple, effective way to get the team back in shape and build camaraderie. It’s a great time to push your cheer team physically since there’s no risk of exhaustion before a game. However, spending too much time conditioning wastes valuable time better spent learning routines.
Once your team is ready to practice full speed, you can start implementing game speed reps into your routine. This will train your team both physically and mentally.
Great Cheer Coaches Are Knowledgeable
Coaches who lack knowledge ultimately hurt their cheerleaders. If you practice a routine wrong, your team will have to unlearn all the bad practices they developed. If you’re not aware of what’s required of you as a coach, you will waste time and sap your teams’ trust in you.
Bad practice can also lead to injuries. If a cheerleader lands on her heel, that may lead to a twisted ankle. Keep your team healthy by practicing good landing techniques, and general safety guidelines.
The more you know, the more confident you will be in your teaching method. This confidence is crucial to remain consistent. If you doubt your knowledge, you’ll likely flip flop on what you tell your team. Inconsistencies will confuse your cheerers and make them doubt your credibility.
Great Cheer Coaches Are Perceptive
Without the ability to see flaws and perks, a coach has no value. There are several ways to train yourself to be more perceptive.
Listen: When more eyes look for a problem, your chances of finding it improves. Most cheerleaders will have an opinion to share. Try to understand these opinions even if you’ve failed to see the problem yourself. Use this principle with others such as referees, opposing coaches, and parents. Some of their advice may be poor. But you won’t get the good observations unless you sift through the bad.
Mentally specify a detail you want to focus on: If you look at an entire cheer squad performing, your brain can get overwhelmed with information. Instead, focus on a specific cheerleader to see how he is performing. Focus even further by looking at his footwork, his timing, or his pep.
Ask questions: Sometimes, your team will be shy or intimidated of you. Ask questions in a friendly manner that demonstrates you want to help. Do this on a team and on an individual level.
Great Cheer Coaches Are Patient
You have a vision for your team. Though often idealistic, it’s important to keep this vision to push you to greater heights. But when your team fails to achieve your vision, keep calm.
Losing your cool when a cheerleader makes a mistake you thought you ironed out weeks ago helps no one. Instead, calmly explain what the problem is and how to fix it.
You risk sounding like a broken record if you don’t vary your method of communication. Varied communication helps keep your constant corrections from sounding like nagging. Send a detailed email instead of instructing face to face. And occasionally, let your cheerleaders call their own mistakes. If you’ve done well at reinforcing what problems to avoid, chances are, they’ll recognize when they mess up.
Great Cheer Coaches Are Motivated
People are inspired by those who act the way they preach. If you tell your cheerleaders to respect a competing team, be the first to shake their hands. If you ask them to maintain good quad flexibility, show them you’ve maintained yours. This leadership by example is a proven way to get others on your side.
Contrary to popular belief, you can be very reserved and inspirational. A calm, consistent personality can ease a team’s nerves and be their anchor. Conversely, a zealous coach can fire up a team and give them crucial energy. No matter what your personality is, focus on what your cheerers need at the moment.
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1. Plan the season out ahead of time.
2. Learn good cheer practice techniques.
3. Improve your perception skills.
4. Have patience with repeated mistakes.
5. Motivate through example and tact.