Coaching a squad of middle school girls may sound pretty easy, however, actually accomplishing it takes a lot of patience, interpersonal skill, and problem management!
Things You Will Need
Word Processing Program
Step 1Coaching cheerleading at some schools requires all all-year-long commitment from a coach. This includes: tryouts in the spring, preparing for summer camp, going to summer camp, conditioning before school starts, preparing for the football/basketball season, preparing for competitions, and any school spirit functions. So organiztion is a key componet to start out with. Knowing everything you are going to need throughout the season is impossible- however there are a few key things that will help along the way that you can do before hand.
Step 2We will start at the point when your next season squad is chosen through tryouts. When you first choose your next season team memebers you need to create an emergency action plan handbook. This is where you will use a binder. During tryouts you should have aquired a form providing medical information such as contact information, allergies, and health issues. Make a copy of all of the girls' forms and put them in alphabetical order according to first name and secure them in your EAP (Emergency Action Plan) binder. Also include a short explaination of which squad member needs to call 911, which squad member will take the rest of the team to a safe place, and which squad member will direct the emergency responders to the injured squad member. A cellphone is always suppose to be near this binder so that no one has to search for one during a critical time. Go over the instructions with the girls, you should choose who will take on each role in this plan, and have them all sign their name below the instructions- add this to your binder.
No matter when you begin coaching the squad, it is always a good idea to schedule a parent meeting where the girls, parents, and yourself call all interact and introduce yourselves. While this is a helpful step, it can easily become a slippery slope with parents who have a lot of questions that you may not know the answer to yet. Others will also try and get things changed or added because they know you are new and may not know better. Always check with your althletic director on any changes so they can approve the change or explain why the previous rule was instilled. Learn now that any given parent and/or girl can lie to you- so take any comments referring to anything before you started with a grain of salt.
If you begin coaching a squad at the beginning of the school year, then you have already missed the newer members learning the material and practicing during the summer. I suggest trying to contact the previous coach for specifics that may be helpful. You will also need to aquire all of the uniforms, pom poms, signs, and warm ups for inventory purposes. After you have documented everything belonging to the cheerleading squad you can hand the items out to the appropriate girls. If the girls learned any material that required special music or props- make sure you get those as well!
Step 5When you begin actually coaching at practices and games, you will learn how the girls behave, there personalities, and strengths, and their weaknesses. In addition you will also learn which ones are going to cause trouble, act like a diva, and the very worst: the ones that will send their parents after you when they don't get what they want. So know the rules of cheerleading, know your athletic code of conduct, and be able to repeat and explain any rules or regulations you instill on your squad.
If you DO get a parent who is upset, understand that they do not have the right to be verbally aggressive, let alone physically (in which case you should call the police). If a parent is upset and confronts you during or after a practice you have a few options. First of all, if you let your parents know that practices are closed- then they cannot be in the practice area with you and the girls. If they approach you after practice, it is best not to address the issue right then. Calmly listen to the issue, and then explain that you need to think about the issue and that you will get back to them. You want to try and get as much interaction between parents and yourself in writing. E-mail is a great way to make sure that all conversations between parents and yourself is saved and available for review. If something is said verbally, it becomes your word against theirs.
If a parent persists, ask them if they would like to schedule an appointment with you. Including the school's athletic director is also helpful if it is arrangeable. This way the issue is diffused, they have time to calm down, and you can devote special time to address the issue- having the AD there will also reinforce your choices.
You won't always have upset parents though, rather upset girls who are going to puberty and are VERY emotionally charged. Some girls will cry if you even say one negative word, others think that they are the best thing at everything, and others will try to manipulate you to be able to do what they want. Some of them even scheme together! So you will have to be prepared to talk to each girl differently depending on their personality, deal with bad attitudes, and learn to say no and not comprise on rules.
One last detail that you can prepare for; what I call the "Game Plan". This is a form that I created for each athletic event that describes what will be performed at each timeout, quarter break, or halftime. This way I can see and rememeber what the girls need to do quickly, and the girls can refer to the sheets during the game and prepare for what is coming up. It saves you from answering questions about the game and distracting everyone.While no one will use a cookie cutter style coaching approach, these tips relate to some of the most common and prevelant issues of coaching cheerleading.