How to Coach Youth Cheerleading

Coaching a group of young cheerleaders can be a rewarding and fun experience. Teaching kids cheerleading stunts and cheers, and then helping them improve enough to perform in competition is a very proud feeling for any coach. But it’s a big responsibility and requires commitment and training to be successful and respected by your cheerleaders.Many cheerleading coaches are former cheerleaders who have aged out of competition or college cheer but want to continue to participate in this exciting sport. There are many ways you can become a cheerleading coach and there are many first time coaches without any background in cheerleading. Regardless of your cheerleading experience, it’s a good idea to become active within cheerleading communities online to build a network and get tips.

Master the fundamentals & techniques

If you aren’t a former cheerleader yourself with experience in cheerleading competition, learn as many of the moves as you can and how to teach them correctly. You will be demonstrating these cheerleading dance and cheer moves for the kids in your program so make sure you practice them yourself and master the fundamental cheerleading stunts. You can also find many good cheerleading video tutorials online from professionals for free
Cheer Warm-ups and Drills Make sure all of your cheerleaders are warmed up before working on drills. V-ups, straddle-ups, crunches, lunges, and squats will work the abdominal and leg muscles which are essential for high jumps. Also, make sure they warm up their arms, shoulders, and ankles. Pushups are a great exercise to warm up and strengthen the arms.
Great Cheer Jumping Drills Have your squad practice cheer jumps to counts. Use music to help them stay on the beat and have fun. Having the squad stand in a circle is a good way to see if they are in unison on the jumps. While they are jumping, you should call out the type of cheer jumps and count out loud.
Once they are warmed up, have your squad practice doing jumps into tumbling routines, such as back handsprings.
Cheer Tumbling Drills Make sure each cheerleading member has been trained properly before practicing any cheerleading moves and that all cheer spotters know how to spot each particular move. Once you pair each cheerleader with a cheerleader spotter, circulate around the gym making sure everyone, spotter and tumbler, is doing the drill correctly and safely.
Start as an Assistant
Some gyms start training their coaches while the future coach is still competing. Having an older cheerleader, one who is near the end of his or her competitive career, working with the youngest cheerleaders as an assistant coach is a good way for everyone to get a feel for the new coach’s abilities and dedication to coaching.
Get Certified
Each state has its own requirements for certification, and no coach should be permitted to coach a team for cheerleading competition without that certification. Doing so poses liability issues for the coach and the gym. In addition to state certification, there are three major certification programs. These meet the requirements for state certification in some states.
The American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators (AACCA) offer a Spirit Safety Certification Program that consists of lectures, required readings, and a timed exam. The program focuses on safety, liability, medical responsibilities, and other topics related to cheerleader safety.
The National Council for Spirit Safety and Education (NCSSE) offers core cheerleading classes in Principles and Ethics, Cheer Fundamentals, and Stunt & Tumbling I and II leading to Master level certification.
If you work for a private gym doing competitive cheerleading, you can get certified through the U.S. All Star Federation. They offer six levels of certification and training includes hands-on demonstration and Practical Field Experience.
First aid training is usually required for coaching. Even if it’s not required for your program, a Red Cross First Aid program is a good idea.
There are many resources for cheerleading coaches available particularly online at free sites like where they have hundreds of free skills & drills and tips for coaching cheerleading. You should also try to take advantage of some of the camps and conventions offered. The more you know, the more you’ll be able to teach your cheer squad. These programs typically focus on safety and you can never know enough about how to keep kids safe while still having fun and learning the proper techniques of cheerleading and dance.

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