Ask the Cheer Coach
Subject: First Year Cheer Coordinator
Hi everyone! This year will be my first year running an entire cheer program for a youth football league. This will also be my second year as a cheer coach in general. (I apparently did a decent job last year because they voted me in as a board member which is how I came to run the entire program) All this being said I am lost!! The girls we coach are from 3-12 years old and it is recreational. I can coach the girls no problem (any tips would still be welcome you can never know too much!); however, I have never had to lead a group of adults. I will be responisble for training up the other coaches to a certain extent and making sure everyone has a successful season. I would like to hold a coaches meeting to get everyone on the same page but what should I include in the meeting. Should I make packets? Power points? Should I have a coaches camp and go over the basics or is that an insult to the other coaches? Help!!!
Congratulations on your success and your election to your new position.
The first decision about any meeting is whether it is the best way to accomplish your goals. The two goals and responsibilities you have stated in your question are training and a successful season for all.
The fact that you are asking about running a coaches’ camp indicates you are not sure that is a good idea. If you are significantly more knowledgeable and experienced than the rest of the coaches, then a coaches’ camp might be a good idea, but if not, then you may, as you say, insult some of your group of coaches.
One solution, if you do decide a camp is necessary would be to approach some of the most experienced and successful coaches and ask if they would like to prepare one segment of the coaches camp. You could make that either open-ended, ask them what they would like to cover or give them specific responsibilities to cover.
In regard to both a meeting and a camp, especially with volunteers who are already making a significant time commitment is if adding one or both of those is truly worth the additional time away from their families.
My instinct is that one highly structured meeting is what you probably should plan. Prior to that time ask your coaches if they have information and training contributions they would like to make and you will compile all of the information for the meeting. I would consider the meeting optional, to accommodate any conflicts the coaches may have, and supply complete meeting and training materials in digital format (printed, only if absolutely necessary and then only for the non-computer coaches if there is still such a thing).
You should produce all your information in one of four digital formats – Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Access. (Or for those of us who no longer use Microsoft Office and use the Free OpenOffice.org Office suite instead with its totally compatible document, spreadsheet, presentation and databse products). Everything that you do, you should do keeping in mind that you (or someone else) will be doing this again next year and you don’t want to have to redo all that work again. You will undoubtedly want to add material next year (and every year) but the whole purpose of the digital format is so you don’t have to redo work you or someone else has already done.
If it were me, I would be producing materials for three groups (unless you would be stepping on someone’s toes) – coaches, parents and cheerleaders. There may be other people responsible for producing materials for one or more of those groups, like parents, for example. You do not want to waste time duplicating someone else’s work or stepping on someone else’s job responsibilities. Your job is big enough.
Let’s start with what you can produce for the cheerleaders. (Note: this also can provide coaches with coverage of basic training without being insulting. You give it to them to give to their cheerleaders and they have to check it out so their cheerleaders don’t know more than they do).
A PowerPoint presentation of the skills, positions and cheers they will be using, probably split by levels will be an excellent teaching tool for cheerleaders and refresher course for coaches as well. Since pictures and videos ought to be an important part of the training process and PowerPoint presentation, you could hold a coaches camp camouflaged as a combination video and picture session. Everyone’s cheerleaders will have a blast dressing up, being photographed and filmed posing and demonstrating for the training materials.
You are covering a very wide range of ages of cheerleaders, so if you do not already have your own defined cheer age levels, I would suggest you break your training materials into beginner (ages 3 – 4), intermediate (ages 5 -7) and advanced (ages 8 – 12). Produce different age-appropriate materials geared to each level.
For cheerleading programs, safety has to be the number one priority. It is likely reason enough to hold a coaches’ meeting. Safety topics could include: a proactive cheer safety program, doctor’s exams, cheerleader safety education, strength, flexibility, and physical preparation, general and specific supervision system and protocols, practice and game warm-ups, dangers when sideline cheering, parent drop-off and pick-up safety rules, stunting spotting and safety rules, First Aid availability, written practice and game Emergency/Accident contact system and procedures, Accident/Near-Accident Evaluation and Review, safe stunting skill progressions, safe tumbling skill progressions, safe spotting of tumbling, safe practice attire and cheerleading practice and game safety rules.
The PowerPoint presentation for your Cheerleaders could include: cheer safety, cheer fitness, flexibility for cheerleading, individual goals, cheer positions, cheer jumps, cheer tumbling, cheers and cheer stunts. Ultimately, if not for this year, you will want different PowerPoint presentations for each of the different ages/levels of your cheerleaders.
Your coaches meeting and coaches’ training information could include: All cheer safety topics, practice and game schedules, cheer squad goals, suggested practice formats, cheer tumbling skills checklist by age/level, stunt skill checklist by age/level, positive coaching methods, successful teaching methodologies and the psychology of coaching.
Hope that helps. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.