Rewarding good behavior and performance
In a sport were we can not judge our wins and losses by the scoreboard each week, how do we define success? A cheerleader’s success comes in many forms. If a team makes it through a week and accomplishes goals, has no drama and performs to the best of their ability we are successful. We see success when we come together as a team to support and lead our fans. As a coach, we need to recognize those successes to help our squads know when they are successful.
I have many ways of acknowledging my cheerleaders. Some of these things I do each year and some come in and out of the program depending on what motivates them.
A few years ago, I found some star shaped cutouts at the dollar store. At the end of each practice I would write something good that happened on the star along with who did it. For example, if I saw Sally make an awesome save in a stunt, Sally would get a star. If Jennifer improved her jumps, Jennifer would get a star. If I caught someone being nice or supportive without being asked too, they would get a star. Stars would go for anything and everything that was positive at practice. They would look forward to star time and to this day I have former cheerleaders with their stars saved in their cheer stuff and memory books.
Pin It Forward
UCA Spirit Camps had a summer where they handed out Spirit Stick pins to cheerleaders that showed excellent skills, leadership or enthusiasm for a whole day at camp. Each pin came with a second pin that they in turn shared with another cheerleader that they saw with these qualities. I adapted this practice for my own squad. Instead of pins we earned stars (like the star awards). I would award as super star to a cheerleader and they would choose another super star for that day. It was nice to see that other team members recognized hard work and dedication to the team.
Cheerleader of the Week
One year I found a cute stuffed cow in a cheer uniform. I purchased it and had it in my car when I went to cheer practice that day. While getting practice stuff from my car, one of the cheerleaders saw it and loved it! She wanted to take the cow home with her. On the spot, I told her she could earn it. I took the cow into practice and told the girls that the cheerleader that displayed the traits of cheerleaders the best that week could ‘earn’ the cow for a week. At the end of the week, we would vote on who represented our school and cheerleaders the best. The girls worked extra hard and really took pride in taking care of the cow when they earned it. Each girl got to sign her name on the uniform and at the end of the season the cheerleader that had earned the cow the most times became the cheerleader of the year and got to keep the cow.
Back in elementary school I always had teachers that had the dreaded homework charts. They had the homework written across the top and our names listed along the side. Each day when homework was turned in a star was earned. As a terrible student, I was always missing stars, but seeing this again as an adult I decided to bring it in to my practices. When we sit down as a team and create personal and team goals they are written on the chart. When someone accomplishes a goal, they earn a sticker. When the team earns enough stickers they get a reward. Sometimes the reward is food, sometimes less conditioning, early out, their choice on uniforms, etc. This was probably THE most successful motivating tool in recognizing good behavior and performance. The cheerleaders worked extra hard and made it into a competition to see who could accomplish goals the fastest. It still use goal charts each year and each. This year I will be doing goal charts for all of our skills and at the end of the season when we have out banquet, I will be displaying the charts and rewarding the girls again in front of their friends and families.
The most important thing to take away from this post is that we all want to be recognized when we do something right. We are almost always recognized for doing something incorrectly. It helps so much with confidence and self esteem to know when we are doing something right!
I have a few more ideas that I have for recognizing good, but if you would like to share something that you do, I would LOVE to hear it!