Mixing up your cheer workouts throughout the year.
Lets face it, jog, stretch, motions, jumps, stunts, tumbling, dancing, cheers, chants, conditioning… over 100 times in a season. Almost everyday for 8 months… I think we would all get bored! Keeping our athletes motivated to come to practice and give 100% each time is a challenge. Sometime around mid November, the kids start to get burnt out. Keeping the fun in practice is one of the many ways to mix up your practices and make each day, week or month more exciting.
Warm-up. I know my teams HATE to run, so we alternate our warm up each day. We have a conditioning warm-up that we do to music, we jog and stretch, or we DANCE. If you have been to a wedding in the last 5 years, you have probably seen the Cha-Cha Slide or the Wobble. These are great ways to get the bodies warm and muscles loosened up. In the cheer world, we do a few as well. The Georgia Bounce, Monkey on a Stick and Ice Cream and Cake are a few cheerleader favorites. All of which have specific music and motions that match. You can find the how-tos on Youtube, and if you need the music for any of them, I can email it to you.
Games. Sometimes I use games for conditioning. The cheerleaders get to run around and play games, at the same time they are getting in a cardio workout. Depending on the game, maybe get in some light weight lifting. These are good the day before a game or major performance to help relieve stress and condition without pushing to soreness. Red Light, Green Light and Sharks and Minnows are great for cardio. Like the dances, cheerleaders have some games that they learn at camp that are also good for cardio and strength. Lovers Leap and Ships and Sailors are all variations of Simon Says. Some times they are running around, some times climbing on each other, jumping, lying down, spinning around, etc.
Themed Practice. Another way to keep the kids looking forward to practice is to have themed days or dress up days. Pick one day a month or so and set a theme. Super Hero, Princess, Decades (50’s/60’s, 70’s, 80, etc.), Colored practices, or animals are all fun ideas for dress up days. On these days, the cheerleaders would dress up in clothes that represent the theme. If it is colors, assign each stunt group a color and the group that has the best representation of that color wins a prize. For decades, have each grade be a different decade. You can choose your themes by month as well.
Here are a few samples of what my teams have done in the past:
- July – Christmas/Red, White & Blue
- August – Super Hero Training Camp
- September – Pirate (National Talk Like A Pirate Day is this month!)
- October – Halloween
- November – Boot Camp (for Veterans Day)
- December – Beach Theme (opposite of Christmas in July)
- January – Disco or Jungle Theme
- February – Pink out practice (Valentines Day)
You get the idea. Many times, we plan food or snacks around these dress-up days and make it a break from the norm. Just make sure the kids know that they need to be safe for working on material. Make sure they remove all capes, hats, boots, and accessories before stunting!
Here are a few more ideas that you could implement:
- Picnic Practice -Practice all day in a park. Each member brings a different food. Work on new material.
- Pillow Cases -Each person brings a white pillowcase to practice and Squad members draw and color each other’s pillowcases. Maybe before going away to camp?
- Quote of the Day -Squad members take turns bringing a poem or a positive quote to practice to share.
- Secret Pals -Week, Month, or Season. Assign or draw for names. Send notes, small gifts, etc.
Mix it up and keep it fun. Break up the monotony of the everyday routine. This will help squad bonding and creating those memories that last long after senior night!