I tried out for two programs mid-season and didn’t make the team. Let me tell you about why you shouldn’t give up.
I love to cheer. Eat, Sleep, Cheer, Repeat. Except I’m not on a team (yet). I formerly cheered at level 2 for about 3 years and never tumbled. The last time I competed was February 2015. I’m also a perfectionist and one of the biggest self-critics you’ll probably ever meet. So when I attended trials for Unity All Stars Chilli and Intensity Cheer Extreme Velocity, gave it my 100% in the best shape of my life, then didn’t make the team. Needless to say, I was heartbroken. It’s one of the worst feelings, especially when you worked really hard, to be turned away because for whatever reason you’re not good enough for the team. But, the good news is, you’ve now got plenty of time to make yourself an asset. Here’s my tips and what I do to make sure I’ll make it next time.
(1) Get to the gym
One of the big things in cheerleading now, is “body before skill”, courtesy of cheerconditioning.academy. The best way to make sure you’re on that list of athletes, is being strong enough to be versatile. Be strong enough to jump into any position, be flexible enough to fly. Get a plan and stick to it. Be in “routine shape” without being in a routine. so you can walk into tryouts and hang with the athletes who’ve been with that program all year. Plus, if a team suddenly needs a fill-in and has to look outside the program… You’ll be able to slot in and not die after the warm-up.
(2) Get to tumbling classes
In my case, my problem was tumbling. I’ve been working at my back handspring for a few months now. I know once I have that, I’m more likely to make it on to a team. Especially programs in the UK have lower tumbling expectations than in the US or Canada for example but they expectations are high in worlds team gyms. If you can walk into a try out a few months/a season later with a round-off tuck for example vs the cartwheel you had before. Not only are you more likely to be placed on a higher level, they’ll know you’re committed and that’s one of the most important values a coach looks for in an athlete.
(3) If possible, ask for feedback
Once you have feedback, you have something particular to work on and you know what that program is looking for. I wasn’t automatically given feedback when I tried out at UA, but I tried my luck and asked. I wasn’t necessarily bad and what I executed was good. However which such a high level of talent walking in with skills level 3 and above, for UA to produce a winning level 3 team it would’ve been stupid to turn down ready-to-go talent than to try and get little ol’ me to throw tucks in the 10/11 training sessions they had. Again, when I went to ICE, because of the ratio of tumblers/non-tumblers and someone having to leave, having me on the team would drop their tumbling score and thus I was turned down again. However, it would’ve probably been a slightly different story had I attended tryouts in July and had the summer to work on new skills.
(4) Go to cheer open gyms
If you made friends at the tryouts, or have friends on other teams, call in the troops and get them to come help you stunt. Keeping in practice and/or even learning a new spot, again, will make you versatile. I’ve seen the grips used in cheer change so many times, maybe the last time you trained you did a traditional half-up but now the bases are changing position. Knowing this will, again, help you slot in and be versatile. Again, if you pop by the same gym every open gym, the coaches will know your face and it’ll be fresh in their memory. If a spot opens up or at trials, they’ll want you (the hard worker AKA the gym rat). Plus, doing the stunts of famous teams or the recent Summit/NCA/Worlds winners makes for great Instagram videos!
(5) Have a positive attitude about it
“You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages” – Michelle Obama
So, you know what you need to work on, you’ve got all this extra time to work on your exact weaknesses and improve your strengths; it’s actually a massive advantage. Yes, those currently competing may be in better practice than you. But, you’ve got an extra few days a week to work on building strength by lifting in the gym, more time to plan your nutrition and more time to focus on your individual tumbling skills. You also won’t get complacent or expect anything at tryouts so you’ll probably end up working that little bit harder than some currently competing athletes on tryout day. I find that if you’re thinking negatively about everything, your results are gonna be negative.
(6) Drill and Condition
It’s all well and good being very strong, but it’s unlikely you’ll see a bodybuilder jump straight into a cheer routine and perform. They may be strong, they can probably bench press more than the team combined, but will they be able to do a toe touch like a cheerleader? Probably not. Because they’re not trained for purpose. I firmly believe that breaking down a skill into its fundamentals and drilling them individually helps you understand the skill, perform it better and fear it less. This is all thanks to my encounter and avid reading of Coach Sahil’s blog (@addictedtotumbling/tumblingcoach.com/blog). So drilling and conditioning for the skills you need next tryout will obviously mean you’re in a much better position to produce those skills when you need to.
Overall, what I’m trying to say is that: it may be sad… it may be frustrating… but in the end, if you work hard enough and want it bad enough, the likelihood is you’ll make it next time.
Lots of Love,