It’s that time of year again!
I know gardening and cheerleading don’t really have anything in common, but every time I see the white blooms sprout on the Bradford Pear trees here in Texas I know tryout season is right around the corner.
And with this being my 11th year to judge cheer tryouts, I’ve come up with a few things over the years that I wish EVERY tryout candidate would’ve been told before they got in front of the judges. Of course this is Behind The Megaphone…not some generic post on a website you might find with a google search. So these aren’t the ‘Stay Positive’ or ‘Try Your Best’ kind of generic tips. These are real, honest nuggets of wisdom from the mind of an actual longtime judge (me).
For those trying out, please remember…
1) Tumblers need to cheer too!
This is NOT gymnastics, it’s cheerleading. So even if you throw an amazing tumbling pass in your entrance don’t forget to CHEER to your spot in front of the judges and keep your energy up through the entire tryout. Nothing disappoints me more than a candidate that throws a beautiful full in their entrance and then walks quietly to their spot to begin their cheer.
2) Tone of voice is VERY important
It’s not just about being loud. You can yell “go gators, take it to the top, beat those bears…” ’til you’re blue in the face. But if you sing the words or say them with a monotone voice as opposed to CHEERING with some genuine enthusiasm, don’t expect a high score on your entrance or your voice/projection. This is especially important if you don’t tumble – you can still score decently if you actually show real spirit on your run in and give me an idea of how you’d perform on game day.
3) Starting over – once is fine, twice is pushing it, three times is NOT a charm
If you mess up in the cheer, FIRST try to pick up from where you are and finish strong (the judges may not even have noticed that you messed up). But if you must start over, it’s not the end of the world (unless of course your coach has told you ahead of time starting over will not be allowed). You might not get a perfect memory score but if it helps you feel more comfortable, go for it! BUT take a second to think about the words and the motions before you start again. Starting over more than once is an invitation to begin scoring you harder as I see more and more flaws in your performance with each attempt at that double toe touch.
4) Judges watch your jumps all the way through the tryout
The jump at the end of the cheer is just as important as the 3 jumps you did before your entrance. Especially if there’s nowhere on the scoresheet to score jumps in the cheer separately. I’ve changed a jump score based on what I see in the cheer many, many times.
5) Look at the judges! Seriously…
I know making eye contact might be tough, it always threw me off when I was trying out too. But at least look in the direction of the judges – not at the floor, the ceiling, or the upper right corner of the gym (awkward). I want to at least see that you can cheer towards a crowd, after all that is kind of a big part of being a cheerleader…
Believe me, every tryout judge knows how nerve-wracking it is to try out. We’re people too and most of us have been in that same spot, trying out for a cheer team at some point in our lives. So do all the normal things like SMILE, STRETCH, and BE LOUD but also keep these 5 tips in mind – they may make the difference between cheering on the sidelines in a uniform next fall or cheering from the bleachers.
Coaches – feel free to share these tips with ALL of your tryout candidates before your tryouts. And if you need any help with your tryout, check out the NCA Tryout Packet on the web or hit me up – here on the blog, on twitter (@TyleratNCA), or via email (email@example.com).
Good luck with tryouts this year!