IHSA Cheerleading Sectionals Checklist
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle.
After many months of practice, sectionals has arrived! You’ve successfully led your team this far and it’s time to take them one step closer to the State Championship. It’s a nerve-racking time for everyone and a lot of factors go into making sure competition day runs smoothly. To help with the final preparations, I compiled a list of tips to make sure your team is prepared leading up to Saturday’s performances.
#1: Don’t change a thing
It’s important to perfect what you’ve been throwing to ensure there are no legalities. Remember, officials are looking for cleanliness over difficulty in your routines. It’s best to throw a skill in the level 3 with high execution than something in level 4 stunts & pyramids with poor execution for stunts and pyramid. Thus, it makes more sense to get a high level 3 degree of execution than a low level 4 score, because the lower level performance is going to score higher since they’ll have a better opportunity to get a higher execution score.
#2: Warm up together
Have your team warm up together like they would at the competition. Now, would be the perfect time to use a dance room, where there are mirrors. This helps your athletes see any imperfections. It also helps to stress the importance of timing with their jumps. Some of the most common comments that we see on scoresheets are things like, “chest is down in jumps”, “point your toes”, “low height”, and “incorrect arm placement” — those are things that doing your jumps in the mirror can help with.
#3 Practice in front of a crowd
Make sure your team has at least one practice in front of a crowd. This helps get your team in a performance mind-set so that when they get to sectionals, they have a better idea of what to expect.
#4 Clean it up
The judges see a lot of routines, but a team that sticks out is a team that looks well-practiced. The best way to do that is to do run-throughs so that you can have the athletes work the kinks out themselves. If you do a run-through at practice and something doesn’t work, make them do it again right away. By doing this, they are better able to understand that they need to perform at a level that allows them to hit the routine with as little deductions as possible.
#5 Make sure they have fun
Above anything else, make sure that your kids have fun. It’s a really big day, everyone gets nervous and sometimes, the nerves can get the best of the athletes. But if you let them know that it is more about having fun and performing their best, the kids will perform differently.
#6 Energy. Charisma. Confidence
I can’t stress this enough. Your team’s energy is the difference between a boring routine and a routine that stands out. Even if a team is not throwing the best skills, their sportsmanship and projection can often make up for it. There’s really no reason that you shouldn’t score a 10 in this category.
#7. Leave it all on the mat
If there is one thing that I have always told my teams, it’s to leave it all on the mat. Once the music stops, they need to feel like they put everything they had on that mat. This way, no matter what happens, you are able to build on that momentum. Encourage your team that as long as they tried their best, then it’s never a loss.
By keeping these tips in mind leading up to competition, you will greatly improve the outcome of your team’s performance. Everyone at CheerTD wishes you and your team the best of luck as you advance on to sectionals this week and we hope to get the opportunity to work with your program next season. Good luck, we’ll be watching and cheering you on!
All the best,
Cheer Tumbling Dynamics