Monday, June 23, 2008

Before Teaching The Basics - Youth Cheerleading

When You first start you don't want to jump right into jumps and stunts. What I do is get the girls to line up. Have each girl step forward and show me what they can do. While they do so I have my roster in hand and mark what they know, what they can do, and what each girl needs to work on. This is a great way to start out the season and avoids injuries. Once you evaluate your team you know what strengths and weaknesses you have and what you need to work on. some examples you should evaluate:

1. Basic understanding

2. Coordination

3. Flexibility

4. attitude

5. gymnastics

You can score them 1 through 10 or give them a check or minus. I usually score them and have a goal for each girl. I'll reevaluate every 2 weeks or so, to show improvement.

We Coach Youth Sports

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Coaching Recreational Sports

Most of this blog is geared toward recreational youth cheer. Meaning NO tryouts. Anyone can join and as the coach you have to make do. I'm not saying that is a bad thing . To me it is that much more rewarding. However at the same time some coaches are new at this whole experience also, and that's why I created this blog and why We Coach Youth Sports started a website and Coaching Youth Sports Forum. To help new coaches . It is not about coaching boys or girls, It's not about coaching a certain sport. It's about coaching kids and how to make it an enjoyable experience for you, the parents, and your team. I'm always open for a comment or question, So don't hesitate.

We Coach Youth Sports

Friday, June 13, 2008

Youth Cheerleading Fundamentals

When coaching youth cheerleading it is important to start with the basics first. Before teaching any cheers, chants, or stunts the girls should learn the fundamentals. I have a simple drill to use and I use it every practice. I set the girls up in 2 straight lines.

front (shortest to tallest)


O.K. now I simply call out high V. All girls go in a high V they should all be even and big donuts showing(when you make a fist your index finger and thumb make a big donut and your pinkie makes a little donut- makes it easy for the girls to remember). Everyone stays in position until everyone has it right. Then I let them shake it out, in the beginning it takes awhile for everyone to be together and in the right position so their arms do get tired but strong. While the girls are in position I will go down the middle and push on their arm to see if they are strong and stiff not loose. Once every girl has the high V down I move on to low V, T, Right L, Left L, Touch Down, and so on. As they get better I mix it up and move faster and faster. For more discussion on coaching youth cheerleading or any questions come join our Coaching Youth Sports Forum

We Coach Youth Sports

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Dealing With Problem Parents As A Youth Sports Coach

I've been a cheerleading coach for a while now and this can sometimes be a touchy subject, but I'm not going to beat around the bush. As a volunteer you put in so much time, on and off the field. You are dedicated, you want what's best for your team and every individual child, you try your best and expect to be appreciated and respected as a coach, by your team and the parents. I've found that 99% of parent are behind you 100% but you always have 1 or 2 that are going to try your patience.

I have not and will not ever let a problem parent get to me in a way that there would be a confrontation in front of my team. Not saying that I didn't want to put them in their place right there and then, but that is not good for the child, and that is who you are there for(every individual child). Never let a parent discourage you, but by all means you must stick up for yourself, away from the team. Also let your organization know of the complaint, just in case it gets out of hand. Some parents can be kind of crazy and you never know what they are going to do so be prepared. The best thing to do to help avoid any problems is have them sign a code of conduct. Here is a link for some other ideas: Parents Behaving Badly


We Coach Youth Sports

Monday, June 2, 2008

Voices And Facials

When you are coaching cheerleading to young girls it can be difficult to get them to cheer and not sing or look like a scared or surprised bobble head.

Some tips I use for my girls:


-Do not sing the words
-Make sure each word is load and clear
-Keep back and shoulders straight
-You shouldn't feel any strain in your throat
-Your voice should not squeak or crack(use your diaphragm) some girls will not understand what their diaphragm is being so young. It is your job to help them find it. I use a simple exercise called, I burnt the toast, it sounds silly but it does work.

-Have your girls lay on their backs
-Position their hands above their stomachs, below their ribs
-You chant, I burnt the toast, and they repeat
-Do this as many times you need to until they are all in sink, load, and clear
-Emphasize- use your diaphragm- and feel your muscles working


-Practice in the mirror, try a few different expressions
-Use different facials for different cheers, parts of dance, etc...
-Tilt your head to emphasize words and motions but don't over do it

We Coach Youth Sports

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Transitions In Formations

When you are teaching your girls different formations it is extremely important that the transition from one formation to another is smooth. The girls shouldn't be bumping into each other or have too far to go. For example, one girl shouldn't have to go completely across to the other side and another girl only take one step.

When I'm working on different formations I get a list of my girls get a few pieces of paper and mark them as X's like below. I also write the girls name below the x. This way at practice I have it all drawn out for me. Using the X's also helps with transitions. If you can draw a line from one position to the next without hitting another x the transition should be smooth.

We Coach Youth Sports

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Formations - Beginner

Walk Out - 20 girl squad


__ 1____2____3____4____5



Change formation to lift

The last girl in the 2nd row steps out to back spot the 1st lift. The last girl in 4th row steps out to back spot the 5th lift. That leaves 5 groups of 4 for 5 easy halves or 1, 3, and 5 can be fulls or 2 and 4 can be fulls depending on your difficulty level. You can start out your season in halves and at the end you can all be in fulls with practice. I usually have all flyers lead the lines.


Lifting groups


We Coach Youth Sports

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Over Coaching

Coaching youth cheerleading is fun for me or else I wouldn't do it. I love spending time with my kids and I appreciate the hard work everyone on my squad puts out every practice, game, and competition. Of course there is always discipline and correction that needs to take place but NOTHING like what I seen the other day at my girls softball game. I was embarrassed for the team. The coach was so negative towards the girls, mind you they are 8 and 9 year olds. They are already nervous and when you have a coach yelling at every pitch or every at bat its putting it way over the top! Coach I would just like to say, if you do not like what you are doing then do not do it. The girls were so worked up they didn't even know what to do. If you have a problem with a call, you can't start yelling at the umpire in front of those kids! You can't start an argument with the other coach! And then expect your players to go out and do their best. Wake up coach! What does it say about how you feel about your team, when during the last 2 innings you coaches are sitting in the dugout yelling and dictating to your team? That you gave up on them. One of the worst things you can do. You need to be confident in your team and show them that. Maybe, they just might surprise you.

We Coach Youth Sports

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cheerleading Competitions

If you are a youth cheerleading coach turn on ESPN tomorrow at noon. The USASF Cheerleading Worlds is on. Like I have said before this is a great resource. Get a notepad and if you want, call up your assistants, and get some great ideas!!! Make them your own by changing a few things. I know the difficulty level is way out of reach but that shouldn't matter if you have alittle imagination you can make adjustments. Watch the formations and transitions, listen to the music, and see whats new, there is always something you can come away with. Have fun with it and be creative for your age group. It would be a good idea to tape it so if you missed something, also because it seems to go by pretty quick.

We Coach Youth Sports

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Perfect Squad

First of all there is never a perfect squad, especially in recreational cheer. There are no tryouts, we take everyone and I wouldn't have it any other way! I love to coach kids and coaching means teaching. At my level, 3rd and 4th grade, at first it is about learning how to control their bodies, which is definitely more difficult to teach to a girl who is not well coordinated. But that is the reason why you are there. If you can help just one girl on your squad become better coordinated you have done a great job.

We Coach Youth Sports

Monday, May 12, 2008

Coaching Youth Sports Help

Every youth coach can use some outside advise. We Coach Youth Sports has opened up their Coaching Youth Sports Forum to the public. We guarantee answers to your questions unlike other coaching forums out there. I was on one forum (not mentioning any names) and seen a post from a youth football coach about getting help with his youth football team. The post was made in early September and no one gave him an answer until the middle of November!! His season was either over or coming to an end depending on if he made the play offs. I found that to be unacceptable. As a youth coach you know time is of the essence, you have no time to be fooling around. Searching the Internet looking for answers can sometimes be time consuming and you usually come up short. That's why we decided to give a guarantee. It is a very simple process join the forum ask your question, leave a comment, or suggestion. The forum is set up to discuss any youth sport. Whether it's cheerleading, football, baseball, soccer, hockey, or any other youth sport your questions have a guarantee answer within 24 hours.

We Coach Youth Sports

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Coaches Aide-Teen helpers

My last entry was more of a rant and I do apologize. But I do know we all feel like that sometime. Just for the record I've snapped out of it and back on the ball. Last week was a busy week. I had lots of phone calls from girls moving on to H.S. that still want to be involved with the organization. Which is a great thing however I don't think they realize how much work their freshman year is going to be, especially if they will be trying out for their H.S. cheerleading squad. As 8th graders they were king of the hill and that's not how it's going to be for them next year. They have to pretty much start all over and prove themselves all over.
Don't get me wrong I love having a coaches aide or aides, I started out as a coaches aide. As a head coach it can be difficult on deciding on the right assistants and aides. There are lots of books out there on how to coach kids and some are really good, I have a few myself. But I like the DVDs better they give you more useful information that you can watch over and over, lend out to your assistant, your aides, or what I do is set up a girls night and invite the coaching staff over and watch them together. It can be hard to find quality instructional DVDs at a book store or sports store. I go to Active Videos, there should be a link somewhere to your right. GOOD LUCK TO ALL!!!

We Coach Youth Sports

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


For some reason I just can't get motivated this year. I don't know why. Our family has a lot of stuff going on, but so does everyone and that's no excuse. I just have a blaa attitude right now and I need to snap out of it or my squad is going to suffer. Usually by this time I have music , a couple routines, and have had a couple of coaches meetings by now. I'm full of excuses, the weather in Chicago has been just been terrible, we all are freezing watching our kids play baseball. It's suppose to be spring and I woke up this morning and it was 34 degrees out and can someone remind me what the sun looks like. I need some motivation. While writing this I stopped and call one of my assistants, who is a long time Friend, and set up a coaches meeting for tomorrow, hopefully that while help. I feel better just talking to her. If your season starts in July too it's time to get to work!!!

We Coach Youth Sports

Friday, April 25, 2008

Coaching Staff

Having a coaches meeting with your coaching staff at least a few times prior to the season is so important. By doing this you can figure out who will have what responsibility and what role they will play. Everyone should bring something to the table. Having a diverse coaching staff is key to a successful season.
You and your coaching staff should become a team yourselves. Devise a practice plan and a season plan, always leaving room for adjustments. One of the most important things to discuss at these meetings is how you as the coaches will communicate. you need to agree that you will not contradict each other or talk over each other(argue) in front of your squad. Here are a few tips...
- arrive 5 to 15 minutes early to discuss each girls abilities, technique, and progression
- while the squad is on a run come together to discuss how you plan to execute the days practice
- while the squad takes a water break come together and discuss how the practice is going
-stay 5 to 15 minutes after practice to reflect on the practice
Remember not to dictate to your coaching staff, it won't help you. Let them help you, that's why the are there. Your assistants should be left alone to coach their specialty area as a part of your scheme.

We Coach Youth Sports

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Youth Cheerleading Fundraising Ideas

If you are a youth cheerleading coach then you know how expensive it is. Whether it's uniforms, shoes, bows, or competition fees, you always need money. Some ideas that have worked pretty well for us are:

- Have a Tag Day. You might need to get permission from your city or local alderman's office. You also will have to get some parents involved on this one to help monitor the girls. The girls can save some coffee cans and get together to decorate them with their team colors.

- Have a car wash. You can ask a local bank or park district for the use of their parking lot if you don't have access to one. The girls can get together, decorate posters, and put them around the neighborhood.

- One of my favorites is to have a haircut-a-thon. Ask around the local beauty shops if anyone would be willing to donate their time and service(you might be lucky and have 1 or 2 Moms that are beauticians). Have the girls make up some fliers at least a month in advance and find a location, whether in your gym or park house. Great money maker!!!

Selling candy and having raffles are great but I've found that these ideas help unite your squad and bring them together to work as a team. They work hard together and create a bond. You also are teaching them that if they work hard enough they can accomplish anything.

Here are a couple web sites that might help you also.

We Coach Youth Sports

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hosting Your Own Competition-Fundraiser

Hosting your own youth cheer competition can be a great fundraiser. If its done right it can generate a lot of money for your squad or organization. The only down side is it's sooo much work. You need to have a huge support system from your organization and parents. They need to be behind you 100%. They all are going to have to dedicate their time and energy and be committed 100%. If you have that support it is possible.
First thing you need to do is devise a plan and a time frame. In my experience you will need at least a year to get everything together. You will need to get the appropriate paper work, such as waivers, codes of conduct for squads and coaches, lunch forms(so you need to decide on a menu), rules and regulations, and age and/or grade forms(coaches need to collect birth certificates). Put it all in a packet for each squad participating and hand it out 2 to 3 months prior to the competition so all coaches have time to prepare. You will need to decide on maybe having some vendors to sell, teddy bears, jewelry, t-shirts, ect... You will also need to find some judges. I have found college cheerleaders are O.K. but prefer their dance instructors and coaches. If the college cheerleaders can put on a performance that would be great, It is inspiring for those young girls to watch what they could become with hard work and determination. You can enlist some H.S. cheerleaders to volunteer to keep the crowd and cheerleaders pumped up and be in charge of handing out the spirit stick to the squad with the most spirit.
One other thing to remember is you are only one person and you can't do everything. Accept as much help as you can. This can be a extremely stressful time and there will be many ups and downs. No body is perfect and GOOD LUCK!!!

We Coach Youth Sports

Friday, April 11, 2008

It's That Time

Our season starts in July, that's only 3 months away. Its time to start preparing for the for the up and coming season. I'm always thinking of new stuff we can do, but now its time to get all those ideas together. It is definitely hard getting started again when you have kids in other sports. My girls are in karate, baseball, and gymnastics right now. One thing that helps me is watching cheer competitions on ESPN, great motivation. Watching H.S competitions or even college competitions really inspire me. You see what's new and get some unique idea's. Here is a link to get some air dates.
GOOD LUCK to all those going to any competitions this year!!!

We Coach Youth Sports

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Parents Do Appreciate You

Did I just say that? WOW! As funny as that title sounds it is true(sometimes). Discipline. Some youth sport coaches are afraid of that word. I definitely am not. Maybe its because of the coaches I had growing up or from my Dad who has coached youth sports for over 30 years with an "old school" style. Whatever it is, I probably will never change. I have come to realize that most parents actually appreciate it and will thank you for it. The way you discipline your team or squad sets the tone for practices and games. It teaches them respect for themselves and others. It also builds their confidence in themselves and you. When I have a parent at the end of the year come to me and thank me, it just makes all the time, dedication, and hard work worth while.

We Coach Youth Sports

Monday, April 7, 2008


It happens every year at least a few times to me. As I said before I coach young girls., 3rd and 4th graders. Even at this age these girls can be vicious. Some are just always in trouble for disrespecting girls on the other teams. Making fun of them , calling them fat, telling them they stink, and using language that I didn't even think they knew yet. When the coach from the opposing side walks towards me after a Sunday game I think to myself, "here we go again". I'm always embarrassed and feel absolutely terrible. However I have come to realize that some girls make stuff up, too. So what I try to do, and it usually works out pretty good, is from the beginning of the season I put my rules right out there(there are quite a few). One is to respect the other team. Break any of the rules and you suffer the consequences, whether it be run a lap, or they are out of the next half time. If they encounter any problems with anyone from the other team tell me immediately. Always smile and tell them they did a good job. Kill them with kindness.

We Coach Youth Sports

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Avoiding Injuries

In youth cheerleading as in any sport there are some unavoidable risks and no amount of preparation can stop every injury. However there are some things you as a coach can do to limit them. Conditioning is very important. A well conditioned athlete is less likely to get hurt. So try to gradually increase flexibility exercises and strengthening exercises. Gradually increasing the intensity of conditioning each week will help also. Having a risk taking attitude, such as attempting difficult stunts before being ready, is another problem. When trying out a new stunt, review, review, review. Make sure you have ample spotting and use proper technique. Also make sure the girls are properly dressed.
As a coach you are responsible for your team. To protect them and yourself you should be prepared to handle an injury. Become educated in first aid and CPR. Treat every injury as soon as they happen. If your organization or school doesn't supply you with an injury report get one yourself and keep it on hand. I came across this the other day, take a look.

We Coach Youth Sports

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Cheer Music

Quality cheer music isn't that had to come by. As a coach you are always worried about originality and getting music that is new and fresh. I've tried using music that the judges and fans can relate to which doesn't always mean new. There are many ways you can get the music you want. I would advise against buying a premade cheer mix, you don't want to ever risk the chance of having the same music as some other squad. You can get together a list of songs you want and have a local D.J. compile the music for you. Another way is to search the internet, but that can get extremely expensive. I've seen companies charging $1,000, that's outrageous to me. I did come across which seemed pretty reasonable. You can personalize your own cheer mixes, you can pick how long you want your mix (1:30sec, 2:30sec., or whatever you want), and you can preview your music before you buy. Their prices seemed pretty reasonable also.

We Coach Youth Sports

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Age Appropriate Music

As a youth sports coach you are suppose to be responsible for your young athletes, RIGHT? I have been coaching youth cheerleading for 7 years now. I have coached 1st & 2nd graders, and now 3rd & 4th graders, and brought them both to many competitions. I am amazed at the total disregard of inappropriate music chosen by some coaches. Don't these coaches understand how impressionable young girls are? Some have there girls doing dance moves that I wouldn't do on a dance floor at a nightclub. And shame on the judges for allowing it! Even the parents, sitting in the stands, are cheering their young girls on. I have 2 girls of my own in youth cheerleading and I wouldn't allow it let alone cheer them on!

Music is a huge part of a routine. The selection of your music can take weeks and is usually chosen in the off season. To get professional music can be expensive. You should always be aware of the lyrics in the music you pick, listen to it over and over to make sure there is no offensive language or crude suggestion. Some lyrics can mean one thing to you but in "slang" can mean something entirely different. In other words your girls can be out on the floor performing their routine to some song you thought was cute, but is actually suggesting something else.

We Coach Youth Sports