Already that time of year again; getting ready for cheer tryouts? Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or new to cheer, I think we can all agree that cheerleading tryouts can be brutal, both physically and mentally. Often, the process in itself is stressful and can make anyone anxious. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be that way. With some prep work and knowing what to expect, you’ll maintain the right mindset and crush that tryout!

To start, let’s acknowledge that cheer tryouts start way before the actual big day. Many athletes find themselves at a crossroads between All Star and school cheer and consider the possibility of doing both. So, you should first decide what type of cheer you plan on participating in and then set some goals and visions for yourself. 

If that’s you, cool. Just make sure you’re realistic about your obligations and time commitments to your education and cheerleading. You’ve got to keep your sanity (and your parents, too), so don’t overcommit. If you’re reading this, you already know cheer is intense, physically challenging, and requires a lot of stamina. Listen to me, don’t wait until the week before tryouts to start training. Please do it now. No, not literally right now. But yes, after reading the rest of this post. Get into it!


Use this time to become familiar with 8 count music. You’ll know when to hit a motion, a dip, sit, etc, which helps the team stay synchronized in their movements. Search YouTube for “eight count cheer music” and practice counting along. 

At the end of the day, cheer coaches want enthusiastic, positive, dedicated, and confident athletes. Practicing makes you better and more confident. The goal on tryout day should be to feel calm and confident, not nervous. The more you practice and prepare, the better you’ll feel on tryout day.


Since every program is different, the tryout process varies, too. It’s common for programs to hold open practices or pre-tryout practices the week before tryouts. You should plan to go to pre-tryout practices. The coaches will explain what to expect on tryout day and how you will be evaluated.

Cheer tryouts are kind of like a series of interviews that start with an evaluation of physical ability, leadership, and charisma. Along with your social skills, coaches and assistants want to see how you work as a team.

No matter how tough the competition is, it’s never okay to use unsportsmanlike or rude tactics. “As if!” (in our best Clueless movie voice) it’s a teen, mean girl/guy Rom-Com; it certainly is not! This is real life, and how you treat others says a lot about you and how you might treat your team.

As you go through the tryout process, you’ll probably turn to each other for support and encouragement, which is awesome. Keep encouraging, helping, and lifting one another whenever you can. It is in these situations that you truly demonstrate your leadership and team attitude. With that in mind, it’s essential to make a good impression on and off the mat.

That brings us to another critical reminder: be on time and pay attention on tryout day. 

Remember that coaches and staff spend a lot of time prepping, so they shouldn’t have to wait for late arrivals or to gain anyone’s attention. In general, being late is just a bad look. But during tryouts? Welp…you just might not have a chance to redeem yourself.


Arrive rested, focused, hydrated, and fueled with a balanced breakfast.

It’s important to remember tryouts aren’t just an opportunity to showcase your skill; your ability to follow instructions is also essential. You always want to know where you are in the process. Typically, you are assigned either a number or a directive that specifies when you will perform or be evaluated. 

Before walking in, think about what you can control and your first impression (appearance, energetic body language, voice projection, eye contact).

There is a chance you will be performing in front of what appears to be an intimidating panel of judges, made up of adults and professionals who look like they know what they are doing. Or, at the very least, it appears that they know what YOU SHOULD be doing. Now’s your chance to make it clear that you’re the right cheerleader for their team and that you’re ready to make an impact.


Don’t Be Unprepared. Just a reminder, before you tryout, you should know what to expect. Take a look at your school’s website since most provide an overview and a list of qualifications needed. Get those waivers or required paperwork in before tryout day. Also, if there are specific guidelines for hair, makeup, and attire, pay attention to the details, and dress accordingly, so you’re presenting yourself the way you want to be viewed by the judges.

Don’t Let Your Nerves Show. At first, this might seem like a tall order, but it’s nothing to be afraid of with some preparation and rehearsal. Understandably, everyone gets nervous, and trust me; the judges are aware of this. Keep in mind that being a cheerleader will require you to perform in front of large crowds and people you don’t know. 

Therefore, coaches and judges need to know you can handle the pressure, still bring it, and not fall apart. If you forget something, lose count, or make a mistake, remember to give yourself some grace, keep smiling, and Just. Keep. Going! Even though a misstep has the potential to make you more nervous, don’t let it throw you off your game and ruin the rest of your tryout. 

If you’re a ball of nerves when you get there, don’t worry. Recognize and accept the fact that you are experiencing a natural feeling. Refuse to allow it to affect your performance. It’s your time to wow the crowd. In other words, act and look like a pro. Give yourself a boost and get in the right frame of mind by repeating a positive mantra. Breathe deeply and intentionally. Try putting together a playlist that inspires or relaxes you.

“Don’t be afraid to fail, be afraid not to try.” – Michael Jordan

Don’t Avoid Eye Contact. It’s essential to smile and make eye contact with every member of the judges’ panel. This shows that you’re comfortable and can connect with the audience. Just as important, you need to have positive and confident body language. Your enthusiasm must be apparent. An enthusiastic and confident attitude will make the cheerleading judges believe that you are the best candidate for their team.

Don’t Misrepresent Your Skills. Besides being dangerous, it’s dishonest. Cheer tryouts are a big deal, and if you lie about your abilities, you might not even be considered. If you lost a skill you once had, or you haven’t quite mastered a new skill you’ve been practicing, it’s okay. Be honest with the coaches or judges and let them know you are actively practicing and committed to mastering the skill.

Don’t Lose Focus. It is important to present your best self at cheer tryouts. Be polite and friendly, but you shouldn’t, and I repeat, to all my Chatty Cathys out there: DON’T use this as the time to catch up with friends and become distracted from the task at hand.

You never know who’s watching, therefore be kind, respectful, and helpful. Please keep in mind that this is everyone’s opportunity to try out, not just yours. When it comes down to it, cheerleading is a team sport, a collaborative effort, and you should be proud of who you are and what you can contribute to the team. Focus your efforts on providing a positive performance to demonstrate your value as a cheerleader to the judges.

And, Don’t Forget You’ve Got This! Get out of your head, get out of your own way, and know that you can do it!

Remember to take advantage of this time to brush up on your skills or even find some friends to practice with. Focus on increasing your flexibility so you can execute your jumps successfully. You might also be interested in checking out, Our Best Tips To Level Up Your Flexibility Training And Reach Your Cheerleading Goals

Once you have your tryout requirements, from choreography, motions, cheers, to skills (tumbling, stunts, jumps), you should start practicing at home by yourself or with friends. Rehearse until you can execute with a lot of passion and focus. Make sure your motions are really sharp, precise, and clean, and don’t mark; make sure you’re going full out. Practice this way, so it’ll feel like second nature when you take the mat at tryouts.


When you’re prepared, you’re less likely to freeze up or freak out. The confidence that comes from knowing you’re prepared and ready calms your nerves as nothing else will. So, practice until you feel completely at ease and ready. 


  • Gym bag or backpack
  • Sports drink or water
  • Light healthy snacks
  • Makeup and hair brush for last-minute touch-ups
  • Extra hair-ties and bobby pins
  • Cheer bow (if required)
  • Tryout clothes
  • Sports bra
  • White no-show socks
  • Cheer shoes 
  • Playlist (relax or confidence-boosting)
  • Paperwork/Waivers (if you haven’t already turned these in)

You’ve just been armed with an essential list of tips to follow before and during tryouts, including what NOT to do. Level up those social skills, boost your confidence, and ace your cheer tryout!

*This is not an advertisement or sponsored content. There is no official endorsement or evaluation by Level Up Cheer of these products, services, or companies.

**Please note that the content on Level Up Cheer is not intended to replace professional medical advice. For any questions you may have, you should always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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