Portrait of a cheerleeders smiling

How to Become a
Cheer Coach

Dasha Castillo
By Dasha Castillo - Content Writer
|
Last Updated: April 20, 2023
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This article contains helpful information on how to become a cheer coach, including educational and training requirements, the average median coach salary, advice from an active cheer coach and valuable resources.

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What Does a Cheer Coach Do?

Cheer coaches are responsible for the instruction and guidance of a squad of cheerleaders, whether those cheerleaders are in college, high school, middle school, elementary school, a nonprofit cheer organization or a professional squad.

Cheer coaches work in whatever setting their squad is rehearsing and cheering in, from football fields to sports arenas. Common cheer coach duties and responsibilities include:

  • Teaching the fundamentals of cheerleading.

  • Providing their team with moral support and motivation.

  • Working with both beginning and experienced cheerleaders on proper technique.

  • Arranging and organizing practices, games and competitions.

  • Ensuring the safety of each athlete.

How Do You Become a Cheer Coach?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for coaches and scouts, which includes cheer coaches, is increasing by 6%. This demand is expected to result in the opening of 14,800 new positions between 2014 and 2024. These steps cover how to become a cheer coach.

1

Finish your high school education.

Cheer coaches for high school students and younger are generally required to have a high school diploma, GED or equivalent.

2

Decide what cheering genre you want to coach.

There are multiple sub-genres of cheerleading, but most cheer coaches will teach and support the following cheer candidates. Deciding which type of cheer coach will determine the amount of education and certifications you need.

  • Sideline: This un-competitive form of cheer supports fellow sports teams at local, state, and regional games and tournaments.
  • Varsity cheering: Competitive cheer that performs at organized cheer tournaments at the high school and college levels.
  • All-star cheering: Private cheer training facilities and supplemental organizations that focus solely on training and producing competition-ready cheerleaders and teams for competitive cheer competitions.
  • Pom dance: Main focus is on dance and pom skills and less on the stunt and tumbling. Pom dance can segue into professional cheering.
  • Professional cheerleading: Trained cheerleaders and dancers that support professional sports teams.
  • Recreational cheering: Class and activities set up to help interested students develop skills in pom, stunts and tumbling.
3

Study and memorize the USA Cheer High School Rules Training.

Familiarize yourself with the safety training and standards necessary to coach high school athletes. Knowing these regulations will help you safely train your students, reassure parents and maximize your cheer training effectiveness. This training knowledge will come in handy if you coach sideline, varsity, all-star or recreational cheering.

4

Prepare and register for the USA Cheer Safety Certification.

The USA Cheer/NFHS Cheer Safety Certification covers safety awareness, legal liability, medical responsibilities, emergency plan creation and implementation, safe practice environments, spotting techniques and athlete readiness to maintain safe training procedures for team members and support staff.

The course costs $85 to register for classes and the certification exam. Registration through the NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations) unlocks five online courses to help you prepare for the exam, while registering through USA Cheer unlocks liability coverage of $1 million.

5

Study and earn your CPR/first aid certification.

Your cheer trainees, parents and administrators will trust you with complex cheer routines if they know you can provide onsite first-aid support in case of an accident. You can earn and renew your CPR/first aid training through the Red Cross or NFHS.

6

Consider multiple NFHS certifications, especially for professional requirements.

Many competitive high schools and colleges require cheer coaches to hold multiple requirements, especially nationally recognized schools. Consider studying for the following cheer-related certifications.

7

Earn a bachelor’s degree.

If you’re interested in coaching a collegiate or professional cheer team, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in physical education, sports and fitness administration, sports medicine or a related field.

8

Prepare your job application materials.

Most employers look into your physical fitness, experience and training certifications. Ensure your resume includes your background in cheer, dance, gymnastics or acrobatics and your previously acquired certifications. These cheer coach resume samples demonstrate how your fellow cheer coaches demonstrate their qualifications. Use a Resume Builder to source the most requested job requirements based on your cheer experience and training.

Cheer Coach Skills

Along with a strong knowledge of the technical aspects of cheerleading, cheer coaches also need to grasp the following skills:

Technical hard skills:

1Ability to instruct a squad while remaining friendly and approachable.
2Analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each athlete and training them accordingly.
3Maintain a high energy level and positive outlook for themselves and the squad.
4Attention to detail in regard to technique and safety, as well as logistical information.
5Strong grasp of kinesiology and basic human anatomy to properly understand what factors can affect each cheerleader’s success, safety and technique.

Soft skills:

1Great communication skills to help convey routines, improvement instructions and encouragement.
2Planning new cheer routines, conditioning schedules, team practice and necessary travel arrangements.
3Organization to keep track of cheer squad files, upcoming events and tournament application materials.
4Coordination, especially with fellow faculty members and team coaches.

Insights from a Cheer Coach

To get an insider’s view of how to become a Cheer Coach, we spoke with Amanda Shepherd, who has been a high school Cheer Coach for the past three years. She is also a social media manager for Ellipses.

What is the common career path for a Cheer Coach?

Generally, you start as an assistant coach to a younger squad level, whether it be an all-star squad of elementary aged students, an assistant middle school coach or a freshman high school coach/assistant coach. Then you can work your way up to head coach through a variety of different teams until you find where you fit.

What should someone consider before becoming a Cheer Coach?

You certainly need to consider the amount of time it takes to be a cheer coach of a successful team. Practices should be anywhere from 5-10 hours per week, plus game days, plus community service outreach, plus summer camps, etc. It is generally a job with little pay but high reward. If cheer is something you love to do, there's no better feeling than giving that love to a younger generation.

What type of person excels in this job?

Someone who is insanely patient, always willing to have a smile on their face and bring their team up when they need to be brought up. Someone with a drive and desire to not only make their girls great cheerleaders, but great human beings. The team and community outreach aspects of cheerleading can help make these girls better people on and off that blue mat.

What are some of the most important skills for a Cheer Coach to have?

I think it's important that a cheer coach at least knows how to cheer and is familiar with the lingo, is familiar with the jumps, stunts, motions, how a routine can be put together, etc. A coach doesn't necessarily need to have to do all those things, but they should know how to do them and how to teach them. Having choreography skills is also a huge plus.

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being a Cheer Coach?

At the end of the day, dealing with teenage girls can be incredibly dramatic, emotionally strenuous and completely difficult. But I do what I do because I know I am making a difference in these girls' lives. I know I am shaping these young women to be better versions of themselves so that when they leave high school and they leave my cheer program, they will be set to be kind, generous and giving young women. I always say, "I don't care if you don't know how to do a back handspring or don't have a high toe touch at the end of the year, but what I do care about is who you are as a person, and if you leave my program with a better understanding of how important your smile could be to this world, I have done my job."

How Much Do Cheer Coaches Get Paid?

Part-time Cheer Coaches are generally paid on an hourly wage basis, while full-time Cheer Coaches are generally paid on an annual wage basis. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for a Cheer Coach is $31,000, with the lowest-paid earning $17,930 per year and the highest-paid earning $70,050 per year.

Top Ten States for Cheer Coach Salary

Cheer Coaches in the following ten states make the highest median annual wage in the U.S.

    Hawaii

    $51,200

    District of Columbia

    $47,500

    New Jersey

    $46,600

    Alaska

    $46,000

    Arkansas

    $45,900

    West Virginia

    $45,200

    Connecticut

    $40,900

    Mississippi

    $39,700

    Florida

    $39,400

    Louisiana

    $39,100

    Cheer Coach Resources

    We put together this list of resources to help you continue exploring your career as a Cheer Coach.

    On the Web

    Positive Coaching Alliance
    This organization is based on the idea that positive reinforcement and the teaching of life lessons through sports can change and improve the culture of youth sports. They offer live group workshops, online courses, awards programs and partnership opportunities.

    US All Star Federation
    The USASF hosts the Cheerleading Worlds competition, and also offers a member insurance program, an annual meeting for the National All Star Cheerleading Coaches Congress, regional conventions and safety credentialing.

    The Fierce Board
    This forum provides its members with a discussion platform for everything cheer-related, including the cheerleading industry, coaching and skills, as well as All Star, college, high school and recreational cheerleading.

    Cheerleading on Twitter

    @wordsforcheer
    This account is full of inspirational quotes, ideas and tips specifically for Cheer Coaches.

    @cheerUPDATES
    This account is dedicated to cheerleading industry news, from new uniform designs to upcoming cheer events.

    Cheer Coach Books

    Coaching Cheerleading Successfully
    This guide goes over nearly every aspect of being a good Cheer Coach, including teaching techniques, planning tips and fundraising advice.

    The Ultimate Guide to Cheerleading
    Designed for both cheerleaders and Cheer Coaches, this is a great reference book for step-by-step photos, coaching guidelines, safety information and activity ideas.

    The information in this article comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job postings and other online sources.