We are well into basketball season and by now you’ve already seen how cheering at a basketball game is much different than cheering a football game. During football season, you are several feet away from even the first row of fans and are usually separated by a fence or some sort of barrier. But during basketball games, you get to be up close and personal! Being so close to the action on the court, as well as the fans in the stands, makes for an exciting game day atmosphere. Here are some things to remember when performing in that kind of intimate environment:
PAY ATTENTION TO THE GAME
Keep your eye on the ball – literally! It is important to watch the game and know who has the ball, so you can call the correct sidelines. Possession changes quickly, so be prepared to change from offense to defense in the middle of a chant. During a game, it’s not uncommon for the ball to go flying out of bounds. Focus on the game and save your conversations with teammates for later.
KEEP YOUR MOTIONS TIGHT
The fans at a basketball game are just steps away from the cheerleaders, so they get to see your every move up close. That means if you have sloppy motions or your timing is off, the crowd will notice. Make sure that every motion is executed sharply at the correct time, and work on your squad’s synchronization at practice. You can also practice in front of a mirror to check for broken wrists and motion placement.
SHOW OFF THAT SMILE
It goes without saying that when you’re cheering you should always be smiling. It’s even more important during a basketball game because the crowd is so close. Even if you think that no one is looking, chances are that someone in the stands is watching (and don’t forget about your coach!). Keep up the enthusiasm and show them that you’re excited to be cheering on your team.
ARTICULATE YOUR WORDS
A lot of gymnasiums echo, so when your team is cheering your words might not always sound clear. Speak loudly and clearly with your head up, and don’t mumble your cheers or sidelines. Enunciate each syllable so that the crowd can follow along and cheer with you.
Another way to get the fans cheering is to utilize props. And because you’re so close, they can be more effective in leading the crowd. Use poms, flags, megaphones and, of course, signs to draw attention and get everyone involved. Be sure that your signs are easy to read and that they’re held up sharply on the correct word.
INTERACT WITH THE CROWD
Take advantage of the close proximity and interact with the crowd. Fans love it when the band plays and the cheerleaders go into the stands to dance with them. Hand your poms to a little kid at a timeout or give your student section signs to hold up during the game. High five the fans as you walk on and off the court. You can even go the extra mile by tossing out candy or t-shirts! Engaging your audience will keep the energy up and the gymnasium loud, and your basketball team will love the support.
SHOW THEM YOUR SKILLS
Now that you’re in the middle of the action, it’s the perfect time to show off the skills you’ve been working so hard on all year. Use halftime and timeouts as an opportunity to perform your skills in front of an audience. If basketball season overlaps with your competition season, use basketball games as an opportunity to practice your competition stunts and tumbling for others to see. Find out if you can roll out mats and perform your entire routine during halftime. It’s a fun way to get in some valuable extra practice and get the crowd excited at the same time.