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There will be moments when your team is in practice; it’s a day where nothing seems to go right. Stunts won’t stay in the air. The team seems flat footed and uninspired. Your coach has been has been hard on you all practice expecting greatness. This is your chance to lead. To inspire. To rise. To give teammates hope in their hearts and wind in their sails. What do you do?

Leadership isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone. Many don’t understand what it means to be a leader. Or how to lead. What does it take to lead? How can you lead without being bossy? Do you have to be the best to be a leader within your team? Today is your lucky day, as we dive in to 7 ways to put yourself in a position to lead in your own way and style to help your team climb closer to success.

Lead by being you

Emanuel Berthe Photography

When it comes to being a leader within a team it can seem overwhelming. As if leaders are perfect beings, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Great leaders aren’t just the one that try to lead by example, but they are those that help others to rise up and be better. It can be by showing confidence in what their actions, right or wrong, or just helping to keep teammates positive.


One of the easiest and most important components to become a leader is having passion in what you are doing. It is contagious. Nothing has to be said or done in hopes of coercion of your teammates. Just by acting with confidence in something you believe in, makes others want to join! We are social creatures! We yearn for raising the bar in group setting. Working towards something greater and even simply greatness itself. These things come together to create motivation for the team.


When you carry yourself with confidence, it makes others to look to you for guidance. It doesn’t have to be verbally. You show confidence by knowing your counts. Knowing your grips and listening are easy ways to lead by action. Put yourself in a position to be successful. On the other side of the coin, not all of us are great at remembering counts. A leader must realize and analyze what their strengths and weaknesses are. Then they are able to work on their weaknesses to create strengths and also utilize their strengths to help the team in their own way. Taking a moment to step back and really look at what you excel in and what you struggle with is an essential part of leadership. Leaders are far from perfect, but strive to improve their weaknesses for a greater good than themselves.

Passion ignites motivation

Emanuel Berthe Photography


Being able to relate and understand how teammates feel, react, and understanding their body language is critical to being successful within a team. It is even more important when leading. When we can understand, empathize, and then help that teammate in a manner that will be received best. If you’re able to quickly see one of the girls on the team is having a bad day, you can determine what would be the best way to say “Hey, you missed your motion” or “You were late to your spot and got in my way”. Simply rewording it to “Hey, I know you’re having a rough day, can I go first to get to my spot?”. Avoiding escalation of their bad day really helps to create positive group dynamic and recognizing it can allow you to be even more positive and hopefully turn their day around.


Taking a back seat and allowing others to flourish is a very important part of leadership. Being the best isn’t what being a leader is about, because you are a team. Helping others to achieve and succeed directly benefits the team, but also shows your teammates that you care. That you recognize their abilities and want what’s best for the team. One of our favorite quotes is “They must see you care, before they care what you have to say”. We as coaches experience this in every setting; classes, school cheer, all-star teams, and private lessons. Once they see it isn’t all about you (rather you want everyone to succeed) even if that means letting others step up, will gain trust and admiration for being a great teammate. Realizing it isn’t all about you and seeing what would be best for the team goes further than you know.


Mistakes are what makes cheerleading and life so great: they are an OPPORTUNITY. Without mistakes we could never make things better, we would just sit around being mediocre. But many see mistakes as a weakness and the majority of cheerleaders won’t own up to them because they are scared. Great leaders don’t see mistakes as a bad thing: quite the contrary! They see them as opportunities to learn, grow, and be better for their team. When you make a mistake just own up to it and show that you are working on fixing it, whatever it may be. People respect that way more than making excuses or placing blame. As long as you are giving it your all, and truly trying to get better, your mistakes will lead to opportunities of greatness.

Emanuel Berthe Photography


Life is not an uneventful, steady stream of things that always go right. Think of how boring that would be! Hurdles will always come up whether you are at school, work or cheer. Barriers are not the problem: it's how you deal with them that make all the difference. Complaining and pointing out everything that's wrong is the worst thing you can do in that situation (whether it's in a group stunt, a social situation or training with your coach). By complaining you are preventing a solution from emerging, and you're creating a negative atmosphere. This is not what a leader would do. To be a leader, you should never whine or complain. Instead, you should suggest a solution - for example saying "this stunt isn't working and it's making us frustrated" is not helpful at all and brings everybody's morale down. Saying "looks like we're not doing something right with this stunt, we should take a break while I call the coach to check our technique" would be a much better option!


Teams have many different athletes from different cultures, upbringings, ages, and personalities. It can be very tough to get along with everyone and be able to talk, listen, and understand what they are trying to say. Or they might barely talk at practice. They may like to keep to themselves, which is perfectly fine! Being able to communicate with everyone is super important because if you can’t get others to understand or care about what you have to say, all is lost in that respect. Effective Communication is essential and will make or break team dynamics. Making everyone feel heard, and helping them to hear you will improve the comradery and unite all of you as a group. Talk to everyone. Listen to everyone. About cheer, life, or just how they are feeling. This is the first step in allowing yourself to really lead and get others to understand your goals.


Stepping up and trying to be a role model on your team is admirable. It’s needed. But it can be very tough and frustrating. Staying optimistic and keeping your goal in mind will truly allow you to stay positive and continuing encouraging while leading. Leading doesn’t have to telling others what to do. Or correcting teammates. As we discussed there are many ways to lead and facets to leadership. Make your own style. Be your own person. But most of all be there for your team when they need you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to offer help. Step up and lead by example! What the world needs is more people with passion for what they are doing, and willing to help others that want to be apart of it.

This article was brought to you by Justin Schneider from CheerConditioning.Academy - as a member of the academy you can access a number of resources to help bring your team's skills to the next level: not just in respect to your skills and conditioning, but also to help grow your leadership & team success!