15 Things Cheer Parents Do that Drive Coaches Crazy
You enroll your child at the local cheer gym and like any parent you really want to make a good first impression on your child’s coach. Ask any cheer coach what one of the hardest parts of their job is and the unanimous answer will be- parents. So how exactly do you avoid being THAT cheer parent? Read below to find out the things that cheer parents do that drive coaches crazy.
1. Ignore information from the gym (emails, newsletters, memos, etc) then complain you don’t know what is going on. Make it a priority to stay informed. Read every piece of information that comes home with your child or into your email box. Create a folder to keep in your child’s cheer bag for paper correspondence and create a folder on your computer for digital files. This way print information doesn’t get lost from the gym to home, and information on your computer is all in one place and easily accessible. When parent meetings are held- make a point to attend, take notes, and ask questions. If you cannot attend, ask another parent to take notes for you or follow up with your contact at the gym (coach, office manager, etc) for meeting notes. It is your job as the parent to stay informed.
2. Assume we place less value on your child because they aren’t Suzy Super Star. Each and every child brings something to the team they are on and each child is valued equally from Level 1 to Level 5 from Minis to Seniors. Skill level and/or age does not determine value in the cheer gym. All athletes are valued equally.
3. Refuse to let your child take ownership for their actions. Kids at this age don’t always understand that everyone makes mistakes and this is an important part of the growing process. If they make a mistake they may be quick to blame others rather than take ownership for their own actions in an attempt to avoid disapproval and negative consequences. Cheerleading is a good opportunity to teach your child to own their actions. If they don’t show up to practice, they are not going to get better. It isn’t because of the coach or another teammate or whatever excuse happens to be the one of the day. If your child needs to have a skill by a certain point, then they need to show up to practice, attend privates, condition at home, and follow whatever instructions they are given to reach that goal. Their actions and their actions alone determine the final outcome. The cheer gym is no place for excuses.
4. Ignore our recommendations and push your child too hard. Coaches are well trained and educated in the sport of cheerleading. Technique and proper progression must be followed for safety and to build the foundation necessary to achieve more difficult skills in the future. Rushing this process can lead to injury, frustration, and burn out. Just because little Suzy can do her back handspring on the trampoline does not mean she is ready to try it on the spring floor. A trampoline is not nearly the same and it is of upmost importance that your cheerleader follows the guidelines set forth in tumbling progression regardless of what tricks they can turn on their trampoline at home.
5. Question our decisions. There is so much that goes into the decision making process of developing teams and placement within the teams in formations and stunt groups on the competition floor. These decisions are made by the coaches, who have each team’s best interest at heart. These decisions are not taken lightly and are taken with incredible consideration.
6. Not paying your bill on time. Financial commitments should be laid out well in advance. Do not commit to signing up your child for a full season of cheerleading if it is not affordable for your budget. The fees have to be paid on time to cover gym expenses, competition fees, uniform fees, and everything associated with the team’s expenses. Even worse, please don’t show up at the gym to buy spirit wear after a week-long Disney vacation if you owe the gym hundreds in unpaid fees.
7. Not coming to us first when there is an issue. If there is ever an issue, the first course of action should always be to go directly to your contact person (coach, director, manager, gym owner) during their office hours. Spreading rumors or starting gossip among other parents is heavily frowned upon and can result in dismissal from the gym.
8. Coaching from the sidelines. Let the coaches coach. If you are not confident in your child’s coaches, then please research your other options. It is incredibly distracting to the athletes if a parent is trying to over-talk the coach, offer advice, or coach from the sidelines. It can create an awkward tension among the athletes and coaches, cause the athletes to question their coaches, and send a conflicting message to the athletes.
9. Threatening to go to the rival gym across town if you don’t get your way. At the end of the day, you always have a choice of where you take your child for cheerleading instruction. It is no different than choosing to shop at Target over Walmart. You take your business where you feel welcome, appreciated, and satisfied. Don’t vocalize threats in an attempt to get your way when you are upset about a decision or course of action. This is considered coercion and it is against the law.
10. Poor sportsmanship at competitions. Everyone has a common goal at competitions- to go out there and do their best (and placing in the top 3 is always an added bonus). Judging is subjective, and many times it can be confusing. Remember your role as a parent and do not ever approach the judge’s stand or member of the judging panel if you disagree with the placements/scoring. Let the coach handle this aspect- that is their job. In addition, support the other teams in your division. Show them applause and respect. At the end of the day, every team worked hard to get there and all of the kids deserve the applause.
11. Living vicariously through your child and being a helicopter parent. Remember this is your child’s sport, not yours. Do not get caught up in it to the point that it is more about your child pleasing you than having fun and enjoying the sport for themselves. It is also very healthy to drop your child off and pick them up when practice is over. Don’t hover over them and be a helicopter parent. Many gyms have a parent viewing area- this should not become your second home. It is ok to pop in and watch your child every now and then, but watching their every move every practice is going to put unnecessary pressure on your child and it may make it difficult for them to truly focus and do their best.
12. Lack of social media etiquette. This is a hot topic right now with social media largely consuming our lives. It is important to remember that once something is put out there, it is out there forever. You should never bash another gym, athlete, program, etc. If there is an issue at your own gym, never take it to social media- this is a HUGE no no. Keep your emotions in check and remember to discuss issues with the appropriate parties directly.
13. Sending the ‘Dear John’ letter…..your program is great and wonderful and we love it, but we have decided to go to rival gym across town. Not every program is going to be a perfect fit for each child. We prefer if you are more direct with us and give us honest feedback as to why our program was not a good fit for your child. As owners/coaches we are always looking to improve and if there is something we could improve on in the future, we will aim to do that. If the program was simply not a good fit then we understand that too. This letter telling us how ‘amazing’ we are, and that you are going to the gym across town is confusing because if you truly feel that way- then why are you leaving in the first place? Honesty is always the best route and it is setting a good example for your child by teaching them to not only be honest, but to treat people with respect and to have confidence in their decisions.
14. Quitting after choreography. Choreography typically takes place a couple months into the season. By this point all fees should be spelled out and your child has had a couple months in the gym to experience the sport and bond with his/her team. Once choreography has taken place everyone has a spot and the routine has been built for the athletes for the season and then the major preparation for competition season is well underway. Quitting after choreography puts the team into a huge bind as then they are left to quickly fill the slot or re-choreograph the entire routine, which is a very time consuming expensive process.
15. Being late to competitions and/or practice. The start of every practice is warm up and stretching to prepare the athletes for skills work. This is mandatory and for the safety of your athlete. If your child is late, they may miss this integral part of practice and risk injury to themselves. If they stretch after they arrive, then they are putting the rest of the team behind on practice and wasting valuable time. Being late to a competition is inexcusable. Coaches need everyone there early to check in, go over last minute changes in the schedule or routine, makeup/hair touch ups, uniform checks, and just getting everyone prepared to compete. Not being punctual to a competition is highly irresponsible and affects the entire team. Be on time, or better yet- be early.
Above all else, don’t be afraid to talk to your child’s coach. Communicate. We want your child to be happy, healthy, and to learn and grow and to be successful.