How To Beat Cheer and Dance Tryouts

When was the last time you tried out for a team and failed to make it? Did you leave that day feeling disappointed wondering where you failed? Or did you leave thinking that you just didn’t have what it takes? Either way, you are in luck. There is a real way to beat tryouts that many people do not know. However, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s start with the basics.

In this article, we are going to talk about the natural break. There are really three categories of scores in tryouts. These are the upper level scores (basically participants who have made the team), lower level scores (participants who get cut in the first round), and finally the natural break scores (participants who are in between the upper scores and lower scores). We can essentially call participants in the natural break category the maybes. Why do we say that? Because they are on the verge on making the team.

So what does all this mean for you? Depending on what stage of a tryout you made it to, you can know where you sat. If you were let go in the first round of tryouts (lower scores), you are at a stage where you need to beef up your skills. From this stage, you really need to shoot to get into the natural break at the bare minimum. Do not worry as you can be ahead of the curve if you choose. Try and write down the skills you were asked to perform and go to a local gym or studio to work on these skills. Or as a cheaper alternative, you can always try to find a friend to teach you as well. Either way, you need to work on your skills and get into that natural break.

For those of you in the natural break category (or later rounds in the tryouts), you are in the most competitive spot. Literally, you are fighting for one spot that ten or more other participants are fighting for as well. What this means for you is that you need to find a way to edge your competition out. And how you do that couldn’t be more simple. Earn more points than your competition. The participants who succeed in the natural break can literally make it by one point.

So how do you get those extra points? That is always the million dollar question; however, the answer is simpler than you ever thought. But, in order to show you how easy it really is, let me ask you a question. What area of tryouts did you focus on the most? For cheerleaders, their focus usually falls in a few categories: Stunting, Tumbling, or the Cheer. But, nine times out of ten, most cheerleaders fall victim to focusing too much on stunting. As for dancers, again they fall into some of the same issues as cheerleaders whether it is the choreography or a certain skill set.

What we have happening is one of the most common misconceptions of tryouts. Most participants who tryout, believe that the judges are more concerned about one aspect of tryouts verses all areas as a whole. Unfortunately, this is not true. While certain areas of tryouts may contain more points than others that does not discount all the other points. Problem begins when you see the actual score sheets behind judging. Stunting, Choreography, Skills, Tumbling, Cheer, etc, usually only account for a small portion of the overall score. Sometimes these only account for 30 percent or less of the overall score.

You have now forgotten about 70 percent of your tryout. And I am sure a lot of you thought, I am good at the other parts, so why not focus on the main areas. What you have done is eliminated the possibility of extra points in every category. Remember, we said the natural break winners can win by literally one point. Well, had you focused on an all around points battle, you would have been the one in the winner seat.

What you need to do is maximize points across the board. Really focus on getting every point out of what you excel at. Leave nothing on the table. In the areas you are weak at, get as many points as you can. Sometimes, this means leaving higher skills alone and performing the skills you can do at their highest level. A fall or bobble on a higher skill level can reduce points far worse than leading with a lower skill.

Follow the above and your next tryout could be the one you have been looking for.

Paul Hopkins has been cheerleading for over seven years. During this time he has been a part of teams at the high school, college, and professional levels. On top of that he has taught numerous clinics and privates to cheerleaders of all ages; including Pro team members.  Along with teaching, Paul has also judged numerous tryouts and competitions.  Some of his awards include a 24th place at partner stunt nationals. Paul also is a Certified Fitness Trainer and Biomechanics Specialist.

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