Making The Transition: All-Star To College Cheer!

Making The Transition: All-Star To College Cheer!
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Halie Manion is a senior at Clemson University and is a four-year cheerleader for the Tigers. Here, she offers her advice to all-star cheerleaders who are looking to make the jump to the college ranks.

As promised, we are continuing our conversation on transitioning to the world of college cheerleading. This week, we're focusing at leaving the wonderful all-star ranks and making the switch onto a college team. While changing from one style of cheerleading to the other can be a bit rocky, we've compiled a few more tips to help keep you on top of your game and make the transition as smooth as possible. 

Making The Transition: All-Star To College Cheer

  • ​​Learn about game day
  • Make a campus visit
  • Go to multiple cheerleading clinics
  • Get conditioned for games
  • Learn to rally
  • Ask questions

Starting off with a bang, the biggest difference between all-star and college cheerleading is…you guessed it -- GAME DAY! As an all-star cheerleader, you are training day in and day out to compete a 2 1/2-minute routine, and you're always on center stage. 

As a college cheerleader, you are now training for a different kind of competition. While you are still very much in the spotlight, you aren't always on center stage. Your main job is to keep the crowd engaged while you cheer on your favorite team together.

Whether you're cheering for football, basketball, or even a volleyball game or two, you have the unique opportunity to show off your skills and interact with fans all at the same time!
Not only is the atmosphere of a game day different, but the style of college cheerleading is also distinct from that found on the all-star stage. Just as mentioned in Part 1, one of the biggest ways to ease your transition is to go to a tryout clinic hosted by your college program of interest. You'll be able to see the different style of cheerleading and put it into practice at the same time! You can then take home any skills you were unsure about and practice them ahead of tryouts. 

Whether you learned a school cheer, the fight song, or even a new stunt, we would recommend watching yourself perform that skill. Have your mom or a friend record you or watch yourself in the mirror. Either way, you will be able to pick out those differences from the all-star style.

Similarly, many all-star cheerleaders have a hard time getting used to rallying -- one of the simpler aspects of college cheerleading yet also one of the most significant. Essentially, rallying consists of waving to the crowd, moving your feet, and yelling filler words to get the fans pumped up. Now, let's break down each of those components:

Waving: As easy as it sounds, it can also just as easily become slightly awkward. Go stand in front of a mirror and watch yourself; if you think it looks off, ask someone to watch and critique you!

Movement: A good tip would be to pay attention to the college cheerleaders at the clinic, or better yet, go to a game and watch them in their element. Movement not only draws the crowd's attention to you, but it is also a great way to excite the crowd.

Filler words: These are basically, any words that you use to cheer on your team and fill in the breaks when you aren't performing a cheer. So as silly as it seems, get yourself in front of a mirror and practice these three elements together until they feel natural.

Remember that confidence is key. The more comfortable you are with the new style of cheerleading you are diving into, the better you will do at tryouts!

Now let's talk conditioning. As mentioned earlier, game day in the college cheerleading world is very much a marathon rather than the shorter, more intense sprint of an all-star routine. Because of this, your workout routine should reflect that change. Running is a great way to build up that cardio endurance for those game days when you are going from event to event and then heading straight to kickoff to cheer a football game. While you aren't performing skill after skill, your energy level still must remain high. You could be leading the crowd in a pre-game tradition, interacting with fans, throwing up a timeout stunt, or tumbling in the end zone after your team scores a touchdown. Whatever the case may be, during long games or even in overtime, your stamina will be challenged, so start now and prepare your body by building up your cardio endurance. 

Hopefully, by now you have a better understanding of what college cheerleading entails and a few tips to help you make that transition easier. Think about the countless hours you have already invested into this sport over the years. Remember what made you fall in love with it and the big dreams you have for yourself. Then set your mind to it, and go achieve them! As the college cheer tryout season is approaching, we wish you the best of luck -- don't forget to smile, be confident, and go show the college cheerleading world what you are made of!

By: Halie Manion

Related articles to check out: Making The Transition: High School To College Cheer!

Fun Fact: Many of the athletes competing at the NCA & NDA Collegiate Cheer & Dance Championship are former and current all star cheerleaders! Some athletes continue to cheer on international all star teams and will be competing at The Cheerleading Worlds after NCA Nationals is finished. Get a look into the world of college cheerleading and tune into the championship LIVE on Varsity TV April 6-8.

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