To say the least, cheerleading practice can be overwhelming for parents as well as coaches. I am both a parent and a coach. Who better to give you tips than someone who functions in both roles? There are some things that only parents may understand, and some only coaches may understand.
Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts to help us all coexist during practice:
Allow the coaches to coach. Whether practice is closed or open, allow the coaches to do their job without interruptions. Nothing is more unnerving than a parent yelling corrections during their child’s practice. Athletes may get confused if you’re shouting corrections and giving instructions louder than the coach. Athletes may also find it distracting to have parents sitting in on a practice. Coaches may not always do things the way you may think they should, but every coach has a method that works for them.
“Trust them and their process.”
Skip out on practices. Cheerleading is a team sport, and all members are needed for the team to have an effective and productive practice. Emergencies and interruptions to schedules happen, but try not to miss unless it is absolutely necessary.
“Encourage your athlete to be physically present in mind and spirit and to practice with a purpose.”
Come to every practice prepared. I recommend having a written plan in hand. This not only will help you stay focused; but it can also help you critique and measure your goals and progress. I have a notebook where I keep my plans and goals for each of my teams. It truly is my handy dandy notebook, and I “never leave home without it.” Athletes feed off their coach, their preparedness, and execution.
“Being prepared will help you and your team stay on task and have an effective practice.”
Make each practice an enjoyable experience. I’m in no way saying throw discipline, high expectations, and skill progression out the window. I am saying change it up according to the age and skill level. My mini’s love freeze dance. After a rough practice, I allow them to play freeze dance before leaving. My older teams enjoy having me practice with them or demonstrate for them. I also enlist the help of my parents. The dads seem to enjoy basing for their daughters, and the mothers love being a part of parent routines. I want each girl to enjoy coming to practice and leave with a smile.
“It’s a challenge, but it can be accomplished with creative thinking and planning.”
Disregard your parents’ concerns. Allow a time outside of practice when you are available to speak with parents to answer questions or address concerns that they may have about their child’s progress. Be up front and honest about your expectations and assessments. Most parents don’t go home and study cheerleading rules and practice procedures. We need the coach to help parents understand why there is such a thing as skill progression. “Why can’t my athlete just learn a backhand spring even though she can’t do a handstand just yet?”
“Parents will find it easier to trust you as coach if you address their concerns and you keep an open line of communication.”
COACH KELLI MARIN
Is owner and head coach Spirit Enhancers All Stars located in Portsmouth Va. Coach Kelli has been coaching for 17 years and gym owner for 11. She has received the “30 Under 30” coach of the year award awarded by Cheer ltd., top finalist for Ameri Cheer Coach of Year and 2016 choreography award recipient awarded by Eastern Cheer and Dance.