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Cheerleading Does Not Compare

Cheerleading Does Not Compare - January 18, 2018

This is a sensitive topic. It’s a topic that I have always debated, wanting to shout from the rooftops, but never have. Why? Most likely out of fear of what others may say. If you are a cheerleading coach, cheerleader, cheer parent, or honestly, if you are involved in cheerleading at all, you will totally understand why I am bringing this topic to light. It’s about time someone does it and does it the correct way.

Cheerleading is, in fact, a sport. A sport that is recognized worldwide, and considered to be one of the most dangerous sports in existence. We are not here to debate that, because if you find yourself having to explain why to anyone, you shouldn’t be associating with those kinds of people anyway. No one needs that kind of negativity in their lives.

We finally broke through that barrier and moved along to the next hurdle. Comparisons.

Not all cheerleaders cheer for another sport, but half or more do. Football, basketball, soccer, etc. It is our foundation, and I respect it; it doesn’t bother me to have to cheer someone on. If you have read my articles, you most likely know sportsmanship is important to me and to this sport. Cheering another team on goes hand-in-hand with that. Cheerleading was the entertainment, but cheerleading has progressed. Drastically.

So, why are we compared to other sports? One sport in particular being football. I absolutely love football, so this is not me saying anything bad towards the sport itself. There is just something I have to get off my chest–one being cheerleaders are NOT football players. The athlete signed up to cheer, not to play football. Most of the time, that cheerleader didn’t sign up to cheer on football players, but they have to in order to compete. We will push that aside for a moment though.

When cheerleading coaches, parents or girls themselves complain about the rain, or the cold or the extreme heat, there is no need for the following, “Well, the football players are out with full pads in the heat.” Or, “You don’t hear the football players complaining about being outside playing a game in the cold or the rain.” First of all, that contradicts itself. Pick one: full pads make them hotter or full pads make them colder–which is it? You can’t have both. Honestly, I just don’t care what football players are doing or where they are practicing or what weather they are playing in. We didn’t sign up to stand outside in the freezing cold or the extreme heat or the downpours–they did. While you’re busy comparing us to them, are you saying the same to those football players? “The cheerleaders are out there with you in the downpour. They don’t have full pads on and are getting drenched.” No, you will never hear that. So, why say it to us? If I want to complain or they want to complain about the weather element, just let us complain. There is no need for smart remarks of comparisons. Again, we did not sign up for that.

Some of the worst critics of this sport are coaches themselves. The double standard of what I don’t put up with on my team is what I am going to do to yours. It’s a rare breed of coaches that do this, but trust me they are out there. The ones struck with a pride complex. What they do is the best, their sport is the best, and you either fall in line or deal with the consequences. The ones who, upon reading this, will close out the article at this very moment because they don’t need to hear any more. The coaches stuck so far back in time that they haven’t realized what cheerleading really is about now; those that haven’t seen the growth and all that cheerleaders, coaches, directors and judges have made it become.

We cheer for a sport or we don’t. Either way, it doesn’t take away the importance of our own sport–those competitions we are training for! On top of our competitions, we are also training for a halftime routine and all those sideline chants. We work just as hard, if not harder. We practice at 9:00am and are at the game by 11:30am, done around 1:30 just to go home and get ready for the competition the next morning that will have us up at 6:00am to get ready to go. Not to mention spending hours in a gym that literally feels like you walked into the gates of hell with your inner emotions battling like demons, just to go back to practice the next day and do it all over again. We are forced to deal with cheerleaders missing practices because they ‘should’ be at this football game instead… because, didn’t you know, that is more important?

Yet, we don’t do enough and we aren’t as important? Cheerleaders everywhere lack the respect that they deserve. We show support–it’s literally expected of us. What support do we get in return? Do you see those football players showing up to the competitions to support you and cheer on the girls that cheer them on? You know those athletes on the sidelines that if they weren’t there because they had to practice, the world would literally spin off of its axis and crash into the moon? If you do (and I am sure it has happened), consider yourself extremely lucky.

For those who see cheerleaders as nothing more than sideline entertainment, I have a challenge for you: come to one two-hour practice and see what these cheerleaders are doing. Then, I need you to go to ONE competition. Sit the entire duration of the competition. Observe the teams, observe the uniforms, the hair, the makeup and think about all the effort and time it takes to go into everything. Think about how many games they went to, how many days they practice, how long those practices were; think about how many cheers they learned, the length of the halftime routine and everything that goes into the competition routine. Listen to the comparisons you made, every time you thought this was easy, and that cheerleaders don’t do enough every time you or someone said something about those cheerleaders. I challenge for you really think it through, and then compare.

What do you think about drawing comparisons? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Handling a Cheer Team at War with Themselves

Handling a Cheer Team at War with Themselves - January 9, 2018

Odds are, you are around each other enough that you have become a family. Families don’t always agree (they may not even like each other!!), which can result in some inevitable fighting and bickering. Don’t roll your eyes. A picture-perfect family is a lie, so don’t even try to think you’re going to get that passed me.

If your family (aka, team) has waged war with themselves, do not panic. Do not bust out the riot gear. It is best to stay calm and try some of these tactics to have a peaceful result. Think about when you’re at work–it’s stressful. The same daily routine over and over is exhausting, and can put anyone on edge. A cheer team is no different.

1. Games. Break it up! Throw in some fun things, especially ones that rely on your cheerleaders working as a team. ‘Ships and Sailors’ is always a favorite amongst our cheerleaders. Team trivia, a dance off, or just turn on a random song when they think they are about to do another run-through and just watch them. Relay races, duck duck goose… I don’t care. All of these options are so simple, and sometimes just what they need to ease the tension.


2. Team bonding nights. Bake some cookies, have a movie night or a bonfire. We started a new tradition of a team dinner the week of competitions. You know, the week where all anxieties are sky-high. If you have a serious age gap on your team, this also helps. It forces them to interact outside of cheerleading (what? There is a world outside??) and to really get to know one another. Plus, it’s food. Come on, food solves everything.

3. Life talks
. Sit those athletes down in a circle. Talk it out. Ask how their day was; ask if there are things going on that you should be aware of. Encourage them to talk it out in a safe and civil place. Explain that once they get what they need to out, it’s done. Due to them not being adults, they can’t properly express themselves. They have to know it is okay for them to say how they feel as long as they do so in a respectful manner. It’s better to get it out in the open than to hold it in for it to eventually blow up like a bomb. For the record, we try to do weekly talks followed by meditating in the most obnoxious way.

4. Change it up! Is the stunt group the reason for the tension? Perhaps they don’t trust one another and don’t get along. Perhaps it’s just not getting up. You, as a coach, need to be okay with change. Switch it out a few times and see if it works better. That adjustment can save you an earful of teen drama in the long run. While you’re at it, break up the cliques: have the girls form bonds with other teammates.

There are times where we could have, as coaches, taken steps to help the situation and sometimes we just can’t. Recognize those moments that you see tension and address it immediately. Unfortunately, as the pillars of the family, we need to be incredibly observant and need to eliminate a problem before it gets too serious. Here are some tips:

  • Do not allow your athletes to individually call out another cheerleader. You are the coach, not them. No person on that team is perfect and they need to understand that immediately. You can’t call someone out when they are not perfect in every area themselves.

  • Understand you can have favorites. It’s inevitable. However, you need to hold them to a higher standard; push them harder than you push the other ones. Discipline them when they deserve it. Just remember to make sure each member of the team realizes you love them all equally.

  • Again, encourage open and honest discussions. It works for me, but it may not for you. You won’t know until you try. We treat our athletes like young adults. They are all held responsible for their own actions. In the beginning, we talk to them about bullying and peer pressure. After competitions, we discuss their score sheets and problem areas. It shows them respect. Most arguments stem from lack of respect towards another team member, a coach or a parent. When they realize what respect entails, you don’t have an excuse as to why they aren’t respecting another. 

  • Find what works for your team.They’re yours. Only you know what is best for the team as a whole. Do what you need to do to keep that family civil and happy. Do not let anyone convince you that your tactics are wrong. Who knows… if you listen to them, you may not find yourself on the brink of cheer World War I! 
Have you had to mediate with a team at war with themselves? Share your coaching tips in the comments!

What Do Cheer Parents Resolve for the New Year?

What Do Cheer Parents Resolve for the New Year? - December 27, 2017

Happy New Year! It is that time of year again, where we reflect on the past year and think about all the things we want to do or change for the coming year. When thinking about resolutions, keep it simple and try not to do too much too fast. Statistically, the number one New Year’s resolution is to lose weight or eat healthier. Also statistically, only about 3% of you will keep that resolution all year long. So this year, let’s try and be one of those 3%!

Let’s start with every adult’s number one resolution for the New Year: we could all probably afford to lose few LB’s in the New Year. The problem with the resolution to ‘lose weight’ is that losing weight is such a broad resolution–how are you going to lose weight? We all know we need to eat less, eat better and work out, but as busy parents, sometimes you just don’t have the time. So, instead of making such a broad generalization, be specific. Starting January 1, you make time every day to work out or pack a healthy lunch for work. You could stop drinking soda. Once you have a starting point, you can build on that into February, March and throughout the rest of the year.

Another popular resolution is to save more money. This resolution is a hard one, as we all know, as soon as you have some money saved and you start making a plan of how you are going to spend it, something breaks. Your car breaks, the water heater no longer produces hot water, or the fridge kicks and all your food goes bad the week before Christmas (true story from my own life… can you tell I am still not over it?). It is an unfortunate fact that things do (and will) break, but when you have the money to fix it, it alleviates a lot of stress. Yes, I would have loved to use that saved money on a vacation, but being able to not stress about buying a new fridge or buying food for my family was worth it. So, maybe don’t go out to eat once a week and set that money aside for rainy day; you will be amazing how quickly you can save money.

Spending more time with family and friends is also a top resolution for the New Year. How many times after doing something with your family or your friends do you say, “we should do this more often?” Well, you should! What always seems to happen–to me at least–is I wind up saying I am too tired. I am always too tired or exhausted from a long week of work to enjoy my weekend. Really think about that: too tired to enjoy my time off… that is so wrong. As Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation says, “We need to remember what’s important in life–friends, waffles, work. Or waffles, friends, work. But, work has to come third.” You work to live, not live to work, so start living!

When thinking about resolutions this year, remember, this is your life… how do you want to live it? You only get one shot at this, so why not be happier this year and do what you want to do? If there is one thing you can count on in life is that things are going to happen. Sometimes they are great; sometimes they can be bad or inconvenient. But, this is your life, so be happy and enjoy it! No matter what you resolve in the New Year, have a happy, healthy and cheer-tastic one!

Tell us your cheer parent resolutions for the New Year in the comments!

What Do Cheer Parents Want for Christmas?

What Do Cheer Parents Want for Christmas? - December 22, 2017

Your wishlist has changed a bit since your kids came along. It's not too late to let Santa know what you really want for Christmas this year...

1. A hot cup of coffee with a side of quiet.

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Christmas–no matter who you are–is a wonderful time, but it is also crazy. Even your teenager, the one you can always depend on sleeping in until noon, is up like rooster at the first light of dawn. Nothing would be grander than a slow quiet morning. Just imagine it: sitting and drink that piping hot cup of Joe… maybe having yourself a cinnamon roll. Do you hear that? No. Isn’t it wonderful? It is silence. Take a moment and appreciate the calm before the storm.

2. Being able to buy everything on your kid’s wish list.

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It is an unfortunate fact, but sometimes we just cannot afford to buy all the things our kids want. At that point, you might have to get a bit creative with you gifts. It is so easy when they are young kids; half the time, they just want to live in the boxes and play in the paper. As kids get older, those gifts get more and more expensive and it is harder to get them all the gifts they want. Like most of us, you may have to pick between the new phone and the new gaming system, but sometimes the stars align, you planned ahead, you found all the right sales and you were able to get everything those kids of yours wanted!

3. Health and happiness.

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Nothing is more important to a cheer parent, or any parent really, than our children being happy and healthy. Nothing is harder for a parent than to see our children in pain and being powerless to do anything about it. As safe as we try to make the world for our children, it happens: ankles get sprained, bumps and bruises happen, Band-Aids are applied, casts go on and eventually cut off. We, as cheer parents, especially know how demanding the sport can be on our cheerleaders. At the end of the day, seeing our children happy and healthy is all we can ask for.

4. A little love.

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Being a parent is a thankless job. The ‘I love you’ and hugs that used to be so free flowing are a little more few and far between–especially during those tween to teenage years. We are all just doing the best we can, and it can seem that our kids even hate us sometimes. Yet, it is all because we love them and want to protect them. So, when that kid who screamed you were ‘The Worst’ last week, tells you they love you and gives you a hug, WE’LL TAKE IT!

5. The Big Win.

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Cheer parents, you get me–you want your kid to get the Big Win. That win can be making the All Star team or making varsity, or it could be winning at nationals or at a local level. It does not even have to sport-related: anytime you see your child work really hard at something, it can be really hard to see them lose or fail. That is the thing about Big Wins… they do not come along that often, so when they do, celebrate your children like the Big Winners they are!

What else do cheer parents want for Christmas? Tell us your wish list in the comments!

How to Apply Blue Eyeshadow Like a Pro

How to Apply Blue Eyeshadow Like a Pro - December 20, 2017

Few looks achieve drama better than a dark, cool-toned smoky eye. But, working with blue, purple, and maybe even black eyeshadows? It’s not for the faint of heart. One wrong move, and it’ll look like your flyer’s sneaker crashed into you while twisting out of a bow-and-arrow.

Here are some tips to keep your blue eye look as flawless as your competition routine. For this look, be sure to start with clean skin (give yourself 15-20 minutes after washing/moisturizing before picking up a brush) and do your eyes before applying makeup to any other part of your face. Don’t be afraid to get messy—it’ll be clean in the end!

1.
Start in your comfort zone. You begin a blue eye look the same way you would with any other color. Apply a thin layer of eye shadow primer and give it a few seconds to dry. You don’t need to buy a product specifically labeled ‘primer’; you can use anything from a dot of concealer to a cream shadow that matches your skin tone, such as Maybelline’s Color Tattoo line or MAC’s Paint Pots. Your base layer will cover up any veins on your eyelids on top of allowing for fuller coverage and smoother application of your product, which is key when working with blues. Always apply cream products carefully near your eyes!

Use a translucent powder or an eyeshadow that matches your skin tone and gently tap a thin layer over your lid and crease to lock in your base. For both the primer and lock, apply thinly to avoid having a cakey final look.

Next, apply your crease shadow. Go for a neutral or slightly warmer color that is just a shade or two darker than your skin tone and blend it into your crease. It’s very important to avoid brown eyeshadows with grey, taupe or purple undertones because you’ll have a cool tone all over your lid, and a cool-tone crease will blend too much and make your blue eyeshadow look more bruised than boss. Contrasting a cool lid with a neutral or warm crease will emphasize your blue look.

So far, this is pretty much the no-makeup makeup look, giving your eyes just the slightest touch of depth. Step one of blue eyeshadow should be totally within your comfort zone, even if you are new to makeup. Next up…

2.
Slow and steady. The worst thing you can do with blue is rush. This color gets messy very quickly and can have a lot of fallout, which is why it’s important to do your eye makeup before applying foundation. It’s best to have a shadow applicator or brush that you are using exclusively for the blue shadow so that it doesn’t mix in with other colors. Blue shadow is notoriously bad at playing with others.

Dip your brush or applicator into the blue shadow and carefully tap off any excess product to limit fallout. Apply gently to your lid. Focus on applying a single layer of shadow; you can build up the intensity later, but your first priority should be coverage.


When applying blue (or purple or black), keep the color close to the lashline. Begin by tapping shadow to the center of your lid, but don’t let the color get too close to the crease just yet. If you get blue fallout under your eye or on your cheeks, it’s easy to wipe away, so don’t worry about that. Tap your first layer of blue all over the lid only, and give yourself a few seconds with your eye closed to avoid blinking blue into your crease.

When you first open your eye at this point, the blue is going to look faded and messy. That means you’re doing it right!

3.
Build up. Repeating the previous step, keep taking product, tapping off excess, and applying only to your lid. After the first layer of tapping blue onto your lid, use your applicator or brush to press the eyeshadow in. That is, when you put brush to lid, apply some pressure (not too much—no pain or discomfort, especially near your eyes!) and hold it in place longer than when you tapped color. If coverage was the concern before, intensity is the priority now.

Two layers should provide good color without looking cakey. That is, the layers on your lid at this stage should be: (1) primer/base, (2) tapped-on color, (3) pressed color level one, and (4) pressed color level two.

At this point, your lid should be undeniably blue. If your crease color has faded, you can go over it again, very carefully and without blending into the lid color. You should see contrast between crease and lid, and now that you’ve got layers of blue, the shadow doesn’t look as messy.

4. Take your time. 
There is no rush with blue shadow. Apply your makeup as carefully as you can, and take the time to apply what works best for you. Rushing may result in having blue in your crease or all around your eye, which makes it harder to achieve a clean final look.

5. Keep makeup remover close. 
Once you’ve finished applying blue shadow, even if you worked as cleanly as possible, there will be some fallout. No problem! Keep a makeup removal wipe or makeup remover on a tissue handy. Run your wipe/tissue along under your eye and follow the angle up towards your eyebrow to clean up any fallout or color sliding off your lid. If any shadow fell down onto your cheek or face, be sure to wipe it away and let it dry before applying any further makeup.

After your face has dried, you can apply eyeliner and/or mascara (neither is required, but both increase the intensity of a blue eye look; black or blue mascara look especially good with blue shadow). Once your eye makeup is fully applied, give it a few seconds to dry. Then you can apply your foundation as usual.

After applying foundation and before blush or highlight, use a translucent powder or a powder foundation and gently tap along under your bottom lashes and your cheekbone around your eye. Just in case there is any additional fallout, having a powder barrier will make it easier to take a tissue and wipe away the eye shadow.

6. Practice, practice, practice. 
Even a step-by-step guide like this one is no good without practice. At night before you go to bed or on days when you have time to play around with makeup, practice your technique. The more you try blue shadow, the less scary it seems and the more confident your hand becomes when applying it.

Makeup isn’t permanent, so if you mess up, you can always wipe it away and try again. Think of blue shadow as your competition routine: the more you run it, the more you’ll own it.

How’d it turn out? Show us some of your handiwork in the comments!

Your Routine Isn’t Going as Planned – Now What?

Your Routine Isn’t Going as Planned – Now What? - December 14, 2017

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Is that what your head is screaming right now? That routine you created just isn’t working out how it should be, is it? The first thing you have to do is breathe. Don’t throw that temper tantrum. You can cry on the way home or in the shower, but that’s only because I believe in the power of a good cry. We have all been there and we will all be there again. It happens, but it is not the end of the world. Give yourself the night to rest, and then go back to the drawing board. What is it about the routine that isn’t working? How much time do you have left before you compete? There are many things to consider here. After you answer all the possible questions, try the following:

1. Ask for help. Sometimes you just need an outside perspective to make things click. Maybe a very simple change could bring about a huge impact. Multiple eyes are better than just two. Swallow the pride; if you don’t use the life preserver being thrown to you, you may just drown.

2. Look up ideas. In this wonderful world of technology, ideas are at your fingertips. I do ask that you use this tool just for ideas, not to steal routines. Put your own spin on everything you see. Use this as a stepping-stone to recreate that sequence that just doesn’t look like what you imagined it would.

3. Take a risk and ask the team. I do this often. One of two things happens: I love what they show me, or I take pieces of it and add my own in. They will feel important and valued that you want their input for their routine. After all, they are the ones performing it, and may get more into it because they helped contribute in the creation of the routine.

4. Don’t be afraid of change. Whether you scrap the entire routine and start from the beginning or just change out stunt groups, formations or entire sequences. Some of the best things in life came from someone not being afraid of change. If you are going to change something out, make sure your sequences before and after flow together. You don’t want to change out a stunt group, and have two of the cheerleaders running all the way across the mat to get to their next spot.

5. Look at past score sheets. If you have competed already this season, you have an amazing guideline to go off of. Pay attention to what the judges were looking for and incorporate that. Adjust to what you need and the rest will fall into place.

6. As my cheer guru always says, “remember, clean wins.” Time and time again, I sacrifice technique for something harder. It always hurts me in the end. It’s not playing it safe if you win. This not only gives you extra time to figure out creative entries or different motions, but it gives the cheerleaders time to learn the correct way of doing things. We all want a routine that will blow the judges and the crowd away. Just make sure you can blow them away without sacrificing key points on that score sheet.

7. If all else fails, bring in a professional. Maybe you don’t have helpful people that you can call on to diffuse the ticking time bomb inside of you. Choreographers are there to do what maybe you can’t do at that moment. It’s okay! If it takes one major stressor away from you to have someone create your entire routine or just parts of it, it’s a victory. If you’re an emotional mess, your cheerleaders are an emotional mess and–my goodness–that is just too much mess to clean up alone.

8. Remember to have fun with it! You may cry or get stressed out, but it comes and it goes. It won’t be the last time this happens to you. Breathe in, relax and work through it. Best of luck to all the cheerleading teams competing this season!

What fixed your routine? Tell us your coaching hacks in the comments!

Juggling the Holidays with Finals

Juggling the Holidays with Finals - December 12, 2017

It is almost there you can taste it; it tastes like cinnamon and freedom!!! Holiday break is right around the corner, but first, finals! I don’t know about you, but the word ‘finals’ makes my body instantly go heavy and filled with dread. Let’s just call it what it is, no sugar plum coating it–finals stink! They are horrible, especially when you are already burnt out and winter break is just around the corner. So, how do you stay motivated when you need to pack, buy gifts and go to all those holiday parties? Here are some tips for juggling the holidays and finals.

1. Make a nice list. This is the fun list! Make a list of all the things you cannot wait to do for the holidays. A list of going to see holiday lights, Christmas parties, making cookies, packing, going shopping or just having some holiday fun should be some list items, for sure.

2. Make a not-so-nice list. This is the finals list, BAH HUMBUG! This list is your study list, and all the things you really do not want to do. For example, read history book chapters 1-5, finish outline and book for English, and try to figure out how to actually study for that math final, etc.

Now that you have your lists, it is time to plan. Get out a trusty calendar or make your own bullet planner. Take some items off your ‘not-so-nice list’ like read history book chapters 1 and 2 once you complete that, then you can take a break for two hours to go see Christmas lights. Read chapter 2 at Starbucks while rewarding yourself with a peppermint mocha latte.

It is the holidays–reward yourself with a job well done! Yes, it sucks to spend three hours finishing that book you were supposed to read two month ago, but reading it while curled up in a comfy blanket drinking some holiday drinks sure makes it better. Maybe you have a big holiday party this weekend and you are looking forward to finally meeting your crush under the mistletoe. If you finish all your history reading, you can reward yourself by getting your nails done or getting your hair and makeup done. It might seem silly, but if you keep yourself motivated, who cares!

If the motivation of a list starts to fall flat, get a study buddy or a study group. Nothing keeps you on track than a friend keeping you accountable. Who says a study group can’t be fun? Why not make your study group fun and festive for the holidays? Everyone can make their favorite holiday treats and bring them to study group. Yes, you are still studying, but you also get a nice sugar high to keep you up those late hours.

Finals are the Grinch of the holiday season; they are a necessary evil in an otherwise joyous holiday. We have all been there and made it out alive! Be sure to just keep yourself motivated, put in the work and don’t forget to reward yourself. Hope you all have a happy and safe holiday season!

How do you juggle finals with the holidays? Let us know your study hacks in the comments!

6 Inexpensive Stocking Stuffers for Cheerleaders

6 Inexpensive Stocking Stuffers for Cheerleaders - December 6, 2017

Do you have a cheerleader on your shopping list this holiday season? Stumped for what might make a nice little treat? Here are a few ideas that every cheerleader would love in their stocking!

1. Bobby pins. No accessory is more essential to perfecting the competition look than bobby pins, but these tricky little guys are always going missing lost forever to the jungle of curls and hair spray. Guaranteed, any cheerleader’s response to finding bobby pins in their stocking: “These are exactly what I needed!”

2. Hair elastics. Similar to bobby pins above, cheerleaders are always looking for elastics. Especially for athletes who participate in school-affiliated squads, the high, tight ponytail worn to after-school practice isn’t necessarily the look a cheerleader rocks during class. Elastics are small, yet key accessories for any cheer bag and there are lots of fun color options to pick from. Fancy elastics and hair bows make good presents, as well!

3. Hand warmers. Cheerleaders spend a lot of time on the sidelines for outdoor sports. Even in the spring and fall, hands get cold! Hockey cheerleaders perform at ice rinks, and cheerleaders on travel teams travel by bus, which is not necessarily the warmest or most comfortable ride. Pocket hand warmers make for a very thoughtful gift during the winter cheer season.

4. Moisturizing hand cream. We all love our glittery lotions and anti-bacterial hand gels, but in the winter, these yummy-smelling hand products aren’t the best options for protecting hands from the cold or healing irritated skin. Consider moisturizing hand creams or aloes to keep your cheerleader’s hands soft and healthy. Pocket sizes for traveling fit neatly into cheer bags, and standard sizes are good for at home after practice or an especially chilly game.

5. Lip balm. Cheerleaders’ most powerful tools are their voices, so if their lips are dry and cracking, cheering is going to be very uncomfortable. Again, as cute as glitz and glitter are, they aren’t the best ingredients for healing chapped lips. Look for lip balms made with honey, natural oils (such as coconut, almond and sunflower), or simply petroleum-based jelly. Beeswax feels nice when you apply, but can sometimes dry out lips, too–so be careful! Soothing lip balms keep squads ready to get the crowd on its feet without any pain.

6. Makeup remover. As much as cheerleaders love a glittery eye look, well, removing that makeup isn’t always the easiest task. Makeup removal wipes are an indispensable tool, especially for competition cheerleaders who, like theater performers and dancers, wear heavy makeup for performances so that their expressions are visible from far away. For those who have sensitive skin, seek wipes that specify gentle, soothing makeup removal. There are also brands that specialize in removal wipes for oily skin, dry skin or makeup removers that double as cleansing products.

What are your favorite stocking stuffers and cheer bag essentials? Leave a comment and let us know!  

How to Build a Better Bond with Your Child’s Cheer Coach

How to Build a Better Bond with Your Child’s Cheer Coach - November 30, 2017

Coaches are coaches because they love the sport. Yet, the number one reason coaches quit youth sports is due to pressure from parents. Below are three ways to help make your relationship with your child’s team coach better.

1. Stay in your lane.

Nobody likes being told how to do his or her job, especially by someone who is not in a position of authority. You wouldn’t tell a surgeon how to perform surgery, so do not assume that you know better or more than your child’s cheer coach. As parents, we want the best for our kids, for we all think our kid is a star, but bugging the coach day in and day out on what you think is best for your child is not the way to go about it. You need to take a step back and let the coach do their job. This, of course, does have restrictions: if you feel your child is being treated unfairly or the coach is putting your child in physical danger, you should step in and talk to the coach immediately! However, most of the time it is your personal feelings getting in way. You need to take off those ‘my kid is the best’ blinders, and realize it is about the team. So, with all due respect, stay in your lane and let the coach do what they do best–coaching the team.

2. Let your child do the talking.

One of the best things about having your child in sports is that they learn valuable life lessons, like working as a team, what responsibility means and how to be dependable. These lessons prepare your child for being out in the real world. You, as a parent, are not going to be in the room when your child asks their future boss for a raise or interviews for a new job, so why are you fighting your child’s battles now? All this shows to a coach is that as a parent, you want this more than your child. If your child didn’t get the spot they wanted or tried out for, your child needs to ask why. As a coach, much like in life, a boss wants to see who steps up to be a leader. As hard as it can be, you need to let your child fight their own battles.

3. Do it for the kids.

Depending on the league or team, the coach might be doing this on their own time for no pay. We all know how difficult it can be just to make sure our kid makes it to practice on time after a long day of work. Coaching is really rewarding, but it can be extremely stressful and there is a lot of pressure to make sure your team does well. So, cut the coach a little slack. Understand that the coach is a person and has a life outside of cheerleading. They probably have a full-time job, and even their own kids they have to rush to and from practice.

What are other ways that cheer parents can build a better bond with coaches? Let us know what worked for you in the comments!

6 Things Cheer Coaches Are Thankful For

6 Things Cheer Coaches Are Thankful For - November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful. We get so caught up on everyday routines and stress that we tend to simply overlook everything that is in front of our face. Coaching is rough. It’s just as easy, if not easier, to forget all the amazing things. So, here’s a list of things that makes me thankful to be a cheer coach, even if I don’t verbally say it all year-round.

1. The balance.
With all things in life, there is balance. You take the good with the bad, the loud with the quiet. The crazy with the easygoing. Of course, there is a negative side to coaching. Do not let the bad overshadow the good! While you focus on what is going wrong or the fact that your expectations sometimes aren’t reality, take a look around you. Odds are, while you’re sulking in depression, frustration and a cloud of stress, you are missing out on some laughter. Missing out on the fact that although it wasn’t perfect, the cheerleaders for once gave it everything that they had. Remember that balance, and look for the beautiful in the ugly.

2. The parents.
Oh, parents. They all have that capability to push buttons worse than the cheerleader’s themselves. We sometimes forget that they don’t understand all the behind-the-scenes that goes into the sport. We also forget that they are just human. Parents may make mistakes, not read things over and sometimes nothing in this world could make you happy. Yet, through it all, they are the reason you are here, doing what you (hopefully) love to do. They created that life and are raising that athlete standing in front of you. They trust you enough to teach their child everything we have to offer. Respect that. Parents are the backbone of this sport.

3. The routine.
Gosh, I wish making this up was easy. To some, it just flows. It’s just natural. To others, well, that’s what they make choreographers for. Whether you teach it or have it taught, it falls on the coaches. Fixing the little things, fixing that stunt that just doesn’t want to seem to stay up. When the cheerleaders hit the mat, that routine is your baby out there–in every sense of the word. It keeps you up all night, has you counting to eight so many times you actually forget how to count past eight, and sometimes has you ready to lay on a practice mat for all of eternity. (Come on, I am not the only person who does this.) That same thing can leave you prouder than you have ever felt. You taught that; you coached those athletes who are completely owning it; you created what the judges loved enough to leave smiley faces on your score sheet.

4. The competition.
Sportsmanship is a huge thing with me. Want to be the best? You have to beat the best. Without friendly competition, you would never EARN the places you receive. Be thankful for the other teams, even if they are not so friendly. It’s an amazing example of everything you do not want to be, and everything that you and your team are. Those who are not kind are more than likely the reason that you are.

5. The fellow coaches.
Give thanks to coaches everywhere, whether they are with your same organization or not. We, as coaches, can get wrapped up in the cheer world. The title can sometimes send us on a power trip, and pride is often a hard thing to swallow. Take a step away from that deadly sin and realize additional input can never hurt you. Extra eyes can observe more than just yours can. No one said you have to follow that input, but you should definitely consider it. If they were willing to take time away from their life to offer assistance it should not go unnoticed on your end. Those same people will pick you up if you’re being stubborn and you fall, they will encourage you, and honestly, fill your head up after you have done a great job.

6. The cheerleaders. The pains that they are, and the ones who have lazy days, and the ones who frustrate you when you just don’t understand how they can’t do something that comes easy to you. The only people in this world who can make a giant bow on the top of their head look completely fierce are your cheerleaders. They may stress you out to the ends of this earth, but at the end of the earth, you will find them cracking up laughing. That laugh that can erase any horrible run-through. Cheers to the group of girls who are lazy at practice and then pull off a miracle when their time comes that leaves your jaw on the floor. Cheerleaders, who don’t realize their own strength and tell you that they ‘can’t’ do something. Those same ones who finally stop resisting your every push, and in fact, do what they said they can’t. Those athletes who smile when in tears, who push through the pain and who make life so much brighter. They may drive you absolutely crazy, but you know deep down, you wouldn’t want to imagine a moment without them.

There are so many things that you should be thankful for, these just skim the surface.

What are other things that make you thankful to be a cheer coach? Share in the comments!