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While the specifics of what each high school cheerleading coach is looking for may vary to some degree, there are certain things that they are all looking for, whether they are putting together a competitive squad or a sideline cheer team.
One of the most important qualities that coaches look for in a prospective cheerleader is a sparkly personality with a big smile. Even competition teams need these type of girls to win over the judges. Both competitive and sideline cheer coaches are also looking for big voices. At tryouts, it is important to shout out your cheer. Don't be afraid that you will be too loud. In cheerleading, there is no such thing as "too loud."
If your high school team goes to competitions, it will probably have tumbling requirements. For some teams, a girl needs to have, at the very minimum, a standing back handspring. You should make sure to acquire the necessary tumbling skills before going to tryouts.
Competition cheerleading coaches will also be looking for girls with good jumps, such as toe touches or pikes, and good motions. If you don't know what these terms are and you are planning to try out for a high school competition cheer team, then you really need to sign up for some prep classes at a local cheer gym. These classes can teach you proper form for your jumps and how to have tight motions.
These classes are also a good way to learn cheerleading terms. You don't want to go to tryouts and have the coach ask you if you are a flyer or a backspot and have no idea what he is talking about. Luckily, many cheer gyms offer high school prep classes to help out girls who want to make their school teams.