Published on October 31st, 2013 | by Scott Borgmier
From the Field to the Court
How to Prepare for the Transition from Football Season to Basketball Season.
Written by Megan Murdock. Megan is a senior cheerleader at the University of Kentucky. She has worked four summers for Universal Cheerleaders Association instructing high school and college camps across the country.
The air is cooling, trees are losing their leaves and football season wanes to make way for basketball season. The start of basketball season itself brings many new changes for cheerleaders. Most of the differences in cheering on the basketball sidelines relate to the space and time constraints that go hand-in-hand with the game. It is very important to begin preparing early, so that your team is ready for the exciting, fast-paced games!
Trade kick-offs and touchdowns for tip-offs and baskets. The field becomes a court and now we score two, maybe three, rather than six. First, it is a must to change the words of cheers, and even add some completely new ones. Be sure to dedicate practice time to learning these new cheers and changing the old ones so that everyone is on the same page- especially new teammates who are cheering their first basketball season!
There are many basketball-specific game situations to plan for as well. Do you have traditions for player introductions, tip-off and free throws? If you don’t already have these traditions, get creative and make some new ones! For example, if you have enough room, throw synchronized back handsprings or tucks after a successful free throw or it could be as simple as holding your poms straight in the air and saying a short chant! Make player introductions exciting by doing simple stunts in a tunnel formation as the players run onto the court! Remember that as cheerleaders, you are there to create excitement for the crowd and get them on their feet to cheer for your team! Using stunts, tumbling, poms and traditional chants in these situations will help you accomplish those goals. Work hard to make these traditions game day ready so that they happen without hesitation!
After being used to spanning around 20 yards on the football sidelines, it’s time to starting thinking of how to space your squad in probably less than 20 feet of the court. Does your squad sit or stand? Maybe to an angle? Go ahead and map out the formation you will be standing in while on the sideline and practice on the court before game day. Because of the condensed space, it may help to slightly change some motions in your sidelines. For example, if you have T motions that hit out to the side, you could swap them for candlesticks that hit out front.
Now that you’ve practiced, it’s game time! Always keep your eyes on the game. You just never know when your team can change from being on offense to defense, then back to offense again, within 10 seconds! Be sure that the sideline being started matches what is happening in the game. You can’t properly lead the crow if you are distracted and not watching the action.
Timeouts are another opportunity to step up and lead your crowd! Timeout lengths are very specific- either 30 seconds or 60 seconds. Always have something planned to do in those amounts of time and make them happen quickly. Normally, officials are strict on when you can be on the court, which is why it is essential to get set for your timeout appearances or skills with haste.
In planning timeouts and half-time appearances for basketball games, it’s good to have a mixture of crowd leading and performance! Floor cheers are great for timeouts, as are some visual stunts and tumbling. Before game day, make sure your squad has two to four timeouts planned out for the 30 second and 60 second timeouts. Coordinate with your band to play a song you have a dance or chant that goes along with it. A 30 second break in the game is a perfect time to get the crowd involved with a traditional chant using signs! Give enough time before each game begins to have every timeout warmed up and ready to go! If you are a competitive squad, these times are perfect to begin performing some of your skills in front of an audience- especially your peers! Use your awesome skills to impress your crowd to get them excited!
Keeping in mind the different aspects the basketball setting brings and practicing your adjustments early will lead to a very successful basketball season! Cover all your all your bases so that there are no surprises at the first game. Always remember even though the seasons and sports change, a cheerleader’s job as a spirit raiser stays constant!