Lexus Manning started her cheerleading career at age 14. Today she is a college cheerleader for a south eastern conference school. She also is a highly requested judge for middle school, and high school cheer competitions. Her goal is to become a professional cheerleader for a NBA pro basketball team
Hey everyone. It’s Lexus Manning. And today I’m going to be sharing with you some tips and ideas on how to become a cheerleader when you have no cheer experience. We could probably call this article cheerleading for beginners.
People are constantly asking me, how do I prepare for cheer tryouts if I have no cheer experience? Can I be a cheerleader with no cheer experience? Am I too old? I always get these questions. So I thought it’d be great to write and article and respond to the most common questions I get. I appreciate Alice at Dancerholic.com for reaching out and asking me to share some ideas with here students and website crowd. I am not a writer, I am a college cheerleader who plans on one day cheering in the NBA, but I will share the best advice I can.
So first and foremost, my very first and most important point is yes, you can. It is possible. Yes, you can become a cheerleader with no cheer experience. It is not guaranteed, but it’s definitely possible. I am a firm believer in going for anything that is important to you or any goal that you strive to achieve.
Totally go for it because anything is possible. Nothing can be out of your reach. If you just try and apply yourself, never let the fear of striking out, keep you from playing the game. You know what I’m saying? That was a Cinderella story quote. I think the originally quote was from Babe Ruth based upon the Wall Decal below I found on Amazon. What is Babe Ruth known for? Hitting home runs, right? Did you know he also struck out more than any major league baseball player in history? Michael Jordon said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. So I am all about going for it, and whatever you do, give it all you have.
Don’t be discouraged because there may be many other girls your age who have so better tumbling skills, better jumps and can stunt. Don’t let that discourage you, if you are willing to consistently practice you can improve very quickly.
People will ask me, “is there a certain age you should be when you start cheer? Is this age too old? Is this age too young? Am I too late to start to cheer? If this helps put anything in perspective, I started cheerleading when I was 14 years old. So I was a freshman in high school. I had done cheer before that.
Obviously the younger you start the more experience you will have. However like most things in life it really comes down to passion and desire. Some girls start taking cheer classes as toddlers, however that has more to do with their parents passions or insecurities than it does the four year old. So if you are 14, 15, 16 or younger, the answer is no, you’re not too old.
Although it may be intimidating because like so many other girls have been cheering since they were three, four, five, six, like their entire lives. Just because a girl was put into cheerleading when she was younger doesn’t really mean there is a great advantage. Cheer, like other sports is done at its highest level when you really have a love and passion for cheerleading.
When try outs come around, BE PREPARED. You don’t necessarily need cheer experience to be a cheerleader. But when tryouts come around, you want to know what you’re doing. You know what I mean? Be prepared, don’t waste your time or the judges.
If you want to strategize this in a smart way to think about being a cheerleader when you’ve never tried before in your life, or you’ve never tried out for a school team before. The correct way to go about this would be to give yourself time to at least prep a little bit and get yourself ready because trying out 100% completely blind is difficult.
But my number one tip is if you do want to become a cheerleader with no cheer experience, give yourself at least a little bit of time before tryouts to at least take a few tumbling classes, maybe start stretching to get closer to your splits or do a bunch of research about cheerleading, watch old competition videos. And you want to make sure that, you know, the basics of cheer. This book I found on Amazon can help you and it was less than $5.00 the last time I checked.
You don’t need years and years of experience to become a cheerleader because I hav witnessed and experienced girls who have never cheered in their life and they come in, blow the judges away, and make the team.
I’ve judged a few tryouts and attended many different cheer tryouts. Every year in every school there seem to be a girl or two that have never been on a cheer team, who make the team. And they make the team, they make the team for multiple reasons.
First and foremost is you should probably know the basics of cheer before you try out, you should know like basic vocabulary, like high B’s teas, libs half at one man’s jumps like double toe church, hurdler pike. You should know like basic vocabulary like that before you try out for cheer team. If you’ve never tried it before. It’s good to be familiar with what you’re getting into first. And the judges are really going to like that because they’ll see potential in you. That is why reading a good book on cheerleading basic for beginners is the place you should start.
I just wanted to say first that self prep is definitely the way to go. Like give yourself at least a little bit of time to prep for this. Whenever your tryouts are or whenever you’re planning to do cheer, you need to start now! You need to start familiarizing yourself. I don’t know if that’s a word, but you need to start making yourself familiar with cheerleading immediately.
Personally, from my experience, I didn’t go to a tumbling class to learn my first Cartwheel, to learn my first round off. One of my best friends at the time freshman year taught me how to do Cartwheel and how to do a round off in her front yard. Like as long as you are dedicated and you dedicate the time to do something, you can achieve anything you want to.
If you can’t afford tumbling classes or that doesn’t like fit in with your schedule, there’s always a way around things. I made the time that when I hung out with this friend of mine, we had fun. She taught me how to do cartwheels and rowned offs. We even stunted with her older sister. I just wanted it that bad. You know what I mean? If you are not willing to give something the time and effort then I don’t think you should expect success in any sport or knew skill, do you? I discovered the real secret to cheer moves comes down to flexibility. We all have the ability to improve our flexibility for cheerleading with practice. Today their are many cheerleading flexibility tools to train with that help you improve quickly.
Just make sure that you educate yourself on the basics of cheer. You don’t have to have years of experience. You don’t have to have the level five skills, but just show that you are willing to learn and that you have potential.
The third thing I’m going to be talking about is how to actually try out and become a cheerleader when you don’t have the experience or the skill. If you actually do not know where to start, if you just like woke up one day and decided I want to be a cheerleader.
Now I’m going to be sharing with you tips on how to make the cheerleading team. If you are a beginner and how I’ve seen many girls do this.
BE LOUD AND STRONG AT YOUR CHEERLEADING TRY OUT
So for high school, if you’re going into true tryouts, never been a cheerleader before then one of the things you need to focus on is the cheers. Coaches love it, judges love it when girls are loud and strong in their cheers, I feel like this is a really good basis of showing who you are as a cheerleader and an individual.
If you are repeating a cheer and it’s very like weak and quiet, and you seem shy & into yourself and your emotions are really sloppy. Judges can’t read your mind that you want this so bad. You’re just nervous. You’re just shy. You need to portray to them exactly how you feel about being on the team. You need to show them that you want this.
If you don’t know what I mean by cheer for high school, church tryouts, usually they consist of repeating a football/basketball game cheer, tumbling, jumps, possibly stunting, and a dance.
Every school is different. This is just from my experience, what I have witnessed and what I have done at my schools. But yeah, the cheer portion is super important, especially if you have never cheered in your life and you want to stick in the judges minds. You want to just make your mark and show them that you want this.
Because the cheer portion can give you a competitive advantage. You don’t have to have any special, jump skills, flexibility, tumbling, stunting. It’s the part of the competition where you can show how much you love cheer and how much you are dedicated to the sport. It’s all about projection in your voice and sharpening your emotions and just portraying that you want to be there. Your goal is to stand out and blow the judges hair back.
A lot of people are kind of embarrassed to go all out with the cheer and they feel like it’s kind of lame. They really want it, but they don’t have the confidence to get out there and give it all they’ve got.
Like some of the best cheerleaders on the team sometimes are like, just clapping it out. Like kinda like looking at their friends like, “oh, this is so stupid”, but little do they know they’re the ones who are looking stupid by thinking they’re stupid. You will look so much better if you are showing, if you are selling that cheer, you are going to look better in the eyes of the judges. Facial impressions are hard to hide. Your face projects your attitude.
People will always respect you when you do the very best you can with whatever God given athletic ability and effort you put into whatever you are doing. Everyone is going to think, you look good. If you act all awkward, everyone’s going to think you look awkward. But if you act confident, then everyone’s going to think you’re confident.
To be confident and enthusiastic you must act confident and enthusiastic.
This applies to middle school cheer, Pop Warner or whatever has cheer tryouts you are going to be part of.
You have to remember that technique is everything. It’s not just about how high your jumps are. It’s not just about how strong you are. It’s about knowing the proper technique and knowing that shows potential. And that’s what coaches look for. They want to know that they’re going to be able to work for you. And they’re going to see you as someone who can grow. For example, if you do not have good jumps, which okay. Jumps are hard. not, everyone’s going to have perfect jumps.
Cheerleading Snobs get knock off teams every year by new cheerleaders with great attitudes and passion for what they are doing.
As long as you have good technique and like good motions with your jumps, like you are executing the arm motions perfectly and you are sharp, you are smiling. Then that’s honestly what matters. You don’t know how many coaches have told me. I could care less about how far your legs go up. Attitude is the most important part of life and that includes cheerleading.
I can care less if you’re hyperextended right now, what matters is your technique? They want to know that you have good technique. So just like study, study, study, how your program wants you to do that, jump and execute that well. And they’re going to be like, wow, look at her technique. And then a girl with a good jump with like wailing arms and landing with her feet apart, that’s going to stand out.
I emphasize this in so many of my cheer advice, videos, and so many of my cheer tryout videos. I just can’t say it enough, your attitude is everything, and I mean everything. Be happy. Have a positive attitude. Act like you want to be there. Greet the judges, be peppy. Talk to the other girls, be super nice show that you want to be there.
Show that you’re a team player. Just don’t be scared and don’t feel belittled because you’re around all these people who have experience. Just be confident, always go for something, be happy with yourself that you are stepping out of your comfort zone and that you’re going for it. Even if things don’t go exactly your way in the end, something good always comes out of it because every great thing in life happens when you push yourself outside your comfort zone.
No matter what happens, you’re going to learn something & you are going to experience personal growth. You want to make sure that you are really eager to learn. This one is super, super important. You want to show that you want to learn how to do this stuff that you want to be a compete cheerleader.
Judges and coaches don’t want drama, they need to know that you’re so ready to cheer the games. You are willing to be used however is best for the team. That you are so down to base, fly, front, spot, back, spot squat in the back, like be down for anything. Just be so eager to be a part of the team.
The coach wants someone who is okay with not being a flier or okay, with being a back spot. Like I’m not going to lie. Your chances of making the team will go down. If you go into tryouts and you say, Oh no, I could only be a flyer.
When you say things like don’t put me on base. Don’t put me to the back spot. Don’t put me as a front spot. I need to be a flyer. This is the entitlement attitude that coaches are burnt out with.
Sometimes coaches ask me to main base. I’m just like, yes, yes, I will main base. And in my head, I’m like, I really want a secondary base, but I’m trying to be flexible here.
Another thing is that super important act like, you know what you’re doing?
Don’t seem lost even though it can be really confusing and really intimidating. You don’t want to give off that vibe. You want to show that you’re confident and you want to act like, you know exactly what you’re doing. You want to seem like you belong there? I don’t mean stuck up and snotty and acting like you own the place. Like that’s totally not what I’m saying.
If you ever have questions, just ask somebody, but just don’t let yourself fall short of knowing something, learn all you can about cheerleading if it is something you really want to do. The real secret is being confident within yourself, because believe me, you can do it and you can do anything when you learn how to control your self-talk and mindsets.
As long as you’re confident in yourself and that’s all you need and I’m confident in you. I believe that you can do anything. “God didn’t make any junk”.
There was this one girl who was trying out for cheer team. I was judging this tryout. She had never been on a cheer team before. All the judges could literally tell how bad she wanted to be on the team. Everyone got such good vibes from her. We were like, wow, like she’s so dedicated. Even though she’s never cheered before, that’s the kind of girl we want on the team.
You need somebody who’s going to love what they do. Maybe it is not cheerleading, but you have a path, a passion, and if you try a lot of things, you will find it. You’re going to need somebody who can communicate well with all people. There were other girls who had more skills than this girl, (her name was Lisa). But Lisa made the team because of her willingness to work, be a team player and her exceptional attitude.
Many more experienced and talented girls tried out. However some of them acted like they didn’t want to be there. They acted entitled. They weren’t open to moving to different stunting position, and the lack of team mindset and drama goes on and on.
But Lisa made it, even though she didn’t have any experience because we saw the potential in her. My coach was the one who picked her out. She was like, yes, we want her. I think it’s helpful to share experiences that I’ve seen because things like that really helped me put this making a cheer team in perspective.
It really motivates me because it’s one thing for just someone to tell you, you can do it. I believe in you. It’s totally possible. And then it’s another thing to hear stories about what has actually happened. This is why I personally am a really good learner.
I like hearing other people’s experiences, it really inspires me. It makes me want to be reach my potential, and be the best I can be.
Motivational speaker Dale Calvert says “A wise person learn from their own mistakes, a really wise person, learns from the mistakes of others“.
So yes, you can be a cheerleader and make a team, even if you are a beginning cheerleader with no experience. If you are 17 or younger, don’t ever feel like it’s too late or don’t ever feel discouraged because of other girls have more skills or experience.
Just believe in yourself. I started cheering when I was 14 years old, there were girls on my high school team who didn’t start cheering until they were 15.
The last tip I want to share with you is practice in a cheerleading uniform. This may sound strange, but there are many different cheerleading uniform designs. Some are easier to cheer and master skills than others. There are many generic, cheap cheerleading uniforms for girls on Amazon. I got a uniform that most resembled our high schools cheerleading uniforms.
Yes, you could make your own cheerleading uniform with items you probably already have in your closet. However many personal development teachers talk about visualizing what you want in life. So every time I put that uniform on before I started my practice and work out, in my mind I was putting on my uniform before a real game I was getting ready to cheer for my high school.
As you know, I made my high school cheer team even though I was a beginning cheerleader. Did I make it because I put on my uniform and visualized cheering for my high school team? We may never know, but honestly I think it was one of the most inspiring and confidence building team moves I made when I decided to try out for my school cheerleading team. It may sound strange, but I believe if you want to make a cheer team, practice in a cheerleading uniform that is most like the team you are trying out for.
Everyone starts somewhere. That’s what I need to emphasize. My All star coach always told me this, no matter where you are, tumbling wise, stunting wise jumps wise, no matter how old you are, no matter where you come from, no matter who you are, we all start somewhere. The greats. The people who are on level five teams, they weren’t just born with the skills. They built it up. A lot of the times, you aren’t just like blessed with certain things. It’s all about building it, and we all start somewhere. You want something. Then we just climb to the top, set a goal and achieve it. This is not just in cheerleading, it is the way life works. The sooner we accept this the better and more fulfilled we become as human beings.
Those words of my coach always inspired me. And it kept me going through a lot of things. Because whenever you feel like you’re so far from a goal or you’re so far from this image you have in your mind that you want to achieve in a certain part of your life. I just remember that he always told me that we all start somewhere. The older I become the more I realize that all successful self-made people focus on attitude development and personal motivation as much as they do developing in skills. As long as you have determination and you believe in yourself, then you can get to where you want to be. Of course if you make the team you may want to invest in some cheer specific work out tools so you can become the best you can be. After I made the team I requested a Cheer Stunt Stand for home use for Christmas.
Good luck on your cheerleading journey.