Thursday, April 19, 2012

These questions are brought to you by the letter Q

When I sat down with the alphabet and brainstormed topics for the A to Z challenge Q proved to be more complicated that anticipated.  I decided to put it out to my Facebook friends to ask questions pertaining to coaching cheerleading.   Have decided to answer the following questions  today since these are not skill based or going to be addressed in a later blog.   Thanks SO MUCH to my great friends that submitted questions.

How does a cheerleader cope if they are uncomfortable with the coaching style?
Communication is going to be the basis for my answers on all of the questions.  Talk it out, take the time to listen to each other.  If you are a coach, listen to your athletes.  If you are the athlete, listen to the coaches side of the story.  They may just be on a different page of the master plan than you are.

Coaches come in many shapes and sized.  Big personalities, Yelling, Stomping, Quiet Aggressivenes, My way or no way… these are all traits of coaches that we may not like.  Not every coach has these qualities, but many of the good ones do.   Many times we get students that struggle with our coaching style.  Sometimes personalities just don’t fit.  My suggestion to a cheerleader that is having an issue with the coaches is this. 

Ask yourself why you are uncomfortable.  Is it because you don’t feel you have the skills to perform what is being asked of you?  Do you not like the standards being imposed on the team?  Your way of coping depends on what your are having an issue with.

If you go into a cheer program, or any team sport for that matter.  You are subject to the coach and his style.  Coaches are always going to do what is best for the team as a whole.  If they need you to perform in a position that you are not used to then the expectation is that you will step up and do it.  Coaches are not going to place an athlete into a position that they cannot fill. 

If you feel like the coach is just not working well with you then you need to sit down and talk to the coach.  A good coach will take the time to listen to your concerns.  They want you to succed and do the best you can for you and for the team.  You were chosen because you fit into a bigger picture.  Talking to the coach may allow you to see what that bigger picture is. 

How do you cope when athletes refuse to follow safety guidelines and put themselves and their teammates in danger?
Safety should always be the first priority.   Start your season with a discussion about safety and how to keep eachother safe.  Review the rules, demonstrate why those rules are in place and have an emergency plan.  The more the team understands the risk, the safer then generally are.

This being said, there are always those individuals that want to diregard the rules.  As a coach yo need to have a discipline policy in place to deal with those people.  Have a strict “No flyer on the floor” rule.  Make sure that they understand that if they choose to break a rule they have to sit out.  It doesn’t matter the rule, they are all in place for a reason.

If a cheerleader shows up with glitter on their face or body they have the option of washing it off or sitting out.   Glitter seems like a small thing, but if you throw a person in the air and glitter flakes of and gets in your eyes you may not be able to catch your flyer.  If  a cheerleader has glitter on and it flakes off onto the gym floor it can become slippeey.  You don’t want someone to slip and fall and get injured.

The same goes for hair and jewelry.  The rules are there to protect the cheerleaders from getting hurt.  Hair gets caught and jewelry gets ripped out and scratches… all easy to prevent.

Most of the safety violations come from stunting.  A good coach is not going to allow a team to perform stunts that are illegal.  Not at practice or at games.  The stunts have been made illegal for a reason.  If you perform it and someone gets hurt, the coach can be sued.   There are so many variations and outlets for creativity in the stunting portion, there shouldn’t be a need to try and show off with illegal stunts.   This answer leads me into the last question.

As a coach, how do you politely approach a fellow coach about rule/safety violations or illegal stunts without seeming snotty?
Many times when you witness another team performing an illegal stunt or a safety violation the coach simply is not aware of the rule.  Many new coaches just get put into place with VERY little training.  The athletic director for their program should take the time to get them a rule book and put them in contact with another coach or a cheer coach association that can help them get started.  The doesn’t happen very often in schools because cheer is passed over so often by the admin.

As a coach that has addressed the issue of safety violations too many times to count with other coaches here is how I deal with it.

I take out my rule book (which I ALWAYS have on me) and find the actual violation.  I then go over to the coach and ask them for a second of their time.  Ask them if they were aware of what the team did was a violation.  Many times they have no idea.  Our state association has a reporting policy for vilations and repeat offenders start receiving fines of $500 per violation.  I usually let them know that I just don’t want to see them in trouble and they might want to check out their rule book.  If they don’t have a rule book I tell them where to find on and who to contact with any more questions.

Fo course there are some coaches that I know are well aware of the rules and what is legal and what is not.  If I have a good rapport with that coach I will go chat with them about it (rule book in hand).  Many times the coaches don’t teach the kids the trick and don’t realize they are doing it. 

There are always situations where I am in a school where I don’t have a good rapport with the coach.  If I feel that the discussion will get heated I send them an email after the game.  I do feel like I should talk to them about it, but during a game or face to face isnt always the best answer.  When I send them an email, I typically CC our state director on it so that they can be aware of the situation. 

Do I feel it is important to address the issue of safety voilations.  In our current society of people and parents that don’t understand the system but are quick to lawyer up, I would hate to see all the cheerleaders and coaches punished by the poor choices of one.  The consequence could be the elimination of stunting in our programs and possibly even the program it self.  I have seem both extremes happen this year alone with individual schools this year.  I don’t want that to go state wide.

I will address the following questions in upcoming blogs. 
  • How do you quickly teach a basket toss?
  • How does a parent help their child work on jumps at home?
  • How do you run a successful tryout?
  • How do you pick girls when you might have a girl who you have conflicts with or personalities clash. Especially with a parent, do you put her on the team again?
I hope that the answers to these questions satisfy your need for the letter Q!  It has been great to see the support from my friends in submitting the questions. 


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