Trying out for a cheerleading team can be a very intense and competitive process. The deciding factor between you and someone else could be as small as voice volume during a cheer or as large as having a more advanced skill set than the others. Because this process is so competitive, there are a couple of things that you should do to give you a leg up on the other cheerleaders at tryouts.
Do Your Research
The first step is to do your research. Just about every cheerleading team in the nation has a website and social media accounts. Go onto their social media and check out their videos and pictures. You want to get a feel for the school's image and skill set that they are posting. Do they have a certain look that they are hoping to achieve? For example, the University of Kentucky has a very traditional look. The guys are clean-shaven and clean-cut and the girls always have a curled neat pony and red lipstick. If you were to go to tryout at Kentucky, you should try to meet that image. Cheerleading is a very public role in athletics. You are expected to be involved and lead the crowd at games and competitions, so how you present yourself does play a part in the tryout process.
On social media and the official websites for the teams, there will be information about tryouts and any upcoming clinics and open gyms happening around that time. You can also find the contact information for the coach on their website as well. A smart thing to do would be to email the coach or send a dm on Instagram/Twitter. Introduce yourself and tell the coach that you are interested in trying out for the team. List your skills and which skills that you are working on, make a short video, or link your social media to the coach so they can check you out. You should ask what the coach is looking for as far as skills thrown at tryouts. This will give you a huge advantage over other people trying out for the team because the coach will be looking for you at tryouts, and you will know what the coach is looking for.
If the coach doesn't respond to you, there are usually tryout requirements listed on the tryout application or on the team website. You could also reach out to cheerleaders that are currently on the team and ask their advice for what to do at tryouts. Most teams usually have a minimum skill requirement that they are looking for. Make sure that you have those minimum skills and that you have the skills with the best technique possible. If you can, try to throw harder skills than what is required, just make sure they are technically sound.
Open Gyms and College Cheer Clinics
Many teams offer open gyms and clinics around the time of tryouts. You should go to as many as you can. Go and talk to different members of the current team. Get to know them and ask to stunt with them. They will know the most about what it is like to be on the team and what is required at tryouts because they have been through the process before. If you can find a partner or a group to work with at open gyms and clinics before tryouts, the day of tryouts is going to be much less stressful for you. Try to find people that you stunt well with and that you feel comfortable stunting with. It helps to have a couple of options lined up as well just in case.
It really helps to do mock tryouts in front of friends, family, or other cheerleaders before tryouts. Practice your stunts at open gym or try to meet up with your tryout partner a few times before tryouts. Practice your jumps, dance, and cheer as many times as you need to have it memorized. If they teach you choreography at tryouts, get a video and practice it over and over before you tryout.
Don't Forget to Smile
Most importantly, when the day comes, remember to smile, have a good attitude, and be clean. Even if you mess up, keep smiling! Many coaches accept people onto the team based on potential and attitude. If you show a good attitude and clean technique, you have a strong shot. Also remember that if you don't make it at one school, it doesn't mean that your career is over. Most programs are willing to take people after the tryout process is over. Just send the coach a video and ask if they would be willing to give you a shot. There is a program out there for everyone.
If you follow these steps leading up to tryouts, you will have a large advantage over many people trying out. Have fun with the tryout process and good luck!