History of Cheerleading

The first cheerleaders were formed to support the new American sport of football. And the cheerleaders were an all-male pep club at Princeton University. Reading about the history of a sport really adds to your understanding of its importance and challenges. Plus, it's fun! For more about the History of Cheerleading, CLICK HERE.

Motivating Your Cheerleading Team

Adapted from Pamela Headridge, Oak Harbor High School, Oak Harbor, Washington
Web Link to original article.

Cheerleaders are multifaceted athletes. They need to stunt, jump, cheer, tumble, make posters, encourage the teams, lead the crowd, generate school-wide spirit and pride, and perform community service. This is quite an undertaking for them. Cheerleading is very demanding because it is a combination of leadership activities and athletic skills. It’s no wonder that cheerleaders sometimes get overwhelmed with all the responsibilities causing morale to drop. Maintaining a team’s enthusiasm should be one of the coach’s top priorities. How, you ask? Before answering that, first, take a hard look at your program. Ask yourself the following questions

Often coaches concentrate on what the cheerleaders do wrong and spend little time on reinforcing the positive accomplishments. Now you are probably saying to yourself, that is my job .... to teach the cheerleaders how to do things correctly. Yes, you are right but..... It takes a special person to be a cheerleader and as the coach you must reinforce that concept of importance. They are the primary motivators of the team and you must be their motivator to sustain that enthusiasm.

How do you teach, inspire, motivate and develop well-rounded cheerleaders with positive attitudes???? You, as the coach, need to focus your attention on what you WANT not on what you do not want.

You are thinking; sounds good in theory but how do you apply these concepts to cheerleading?

Have a tangible reward to give. It does not have to be big or expensive. It is a symbol that shows them
      (1) that you recognize what they’ve done
      (2) that they are important
In return, you reinforced the positive behavior. Examples of rewards are paper hand cut outs - “High 5s” for a job well done or “Above and Beyond” notes.
Here are some other practical things to do:

Now you are thinking, how do I change a negative behavior?

Example - a cheerleader is always talking while in chant lines at a game. Tell the cheerleader that you know she has lots of energy and sometimes that causes her to get a little chatty during the game. Ask her to focus that energy shouting encouragements to the team. Finish your statement by confirming your confidence in her ability. Next, “catch” her, as soon as you can, doing what you ask her and reconfirm that is what you wanted!

We ask our cheerleaders to conduct themselves responsibly by showing respect, courtesy, kindness, encouragement, humility, good sportsmanship and a positive attitude. You are their role model. If you want them to be encouraging and positive, as their coach, you need to demonstrate these same behaviors towards them.
As said by Bruce Brown: “The power of messages often comes in a few well-chosen words. Words initiate thoughts. Thoughts provide motivation. Motivation produces action. A few words can speak volumes. Words coming from the right person at the right moment, can go directly to the heart”.

Today Cheerleading has become an expected adjunct to the world's most popular sports.