Lead First. Cheer Second.

May 22, 2013  |  Field Notes

Cheerleading season is gearing up with spring tryouts, awesome camp, and summer practices. If you’re a veteran on your squad, you’re probably really excited to meet your new teammates and reunite with your other returning friends.

CaitlinThis past year, my senior season as a USC cheerleader came with all new responsibilities and duties, which were challenging and yet so rewarding. Why? Because I now had 4 years of experience and knowledge of how our practices, responsibilities and goals should be approached. But there are many ways that each senior helped lead the team without involving power, voice or title.

If you want to lead your team through a successful season, the most powerful way to influence your teammates is through leading by example. Here are tips on how to lead and set the standard of behavior for your squad this season:

1. Listen and respect your coach! Your teammates will always be watching to see what you take seriously. If your coach tells you something to fix, be open to changing up your technique. After all, your coach does know best! If you’re respectful towards your coaches, your teammates will learn that they must be respectful in order to succeed, as well!

2. Give 100% in each practice! Perfect practice makes perfec, and if nobody’s giving 100%, stunts are not going to hit, motions will be sloppy and you’re putting your teammates’ safety at risk! A hard working attitude is infectious.

3. Encourage your teammates through challenges! Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. New team members might be learning new skills that take time to perfect! Be patient and positive with them. Treat them the way you’d like to be treated when facing adversity.

4. Be a friend and leader off of the cheer mat! Not all personalities are going to click immediately, but always look for common ground with each of your teammates. Reach out to them if they’re new at school, and encourage them to be a good example in the community. That type of bond and friendship always shines through on the sidelines and cheer mat.

5. Have confidence in yourself and your teammates! We all experience nerves before big performances, but let your teammates know that you’re confident you will each do your part to succeed. Show them that you believe in their personal and team abilities. Pat them on the back after your routine. Compliment them. Be grateful for a chance to walk on the mat and leave with a united sense of accomplishment!


So remember this year to be a shining example of encouragement, determination and respect on the mat. Focus more on leading by example than leading by voice, and you’re guaranteed to have a great season!

-Caitlin Cofield

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