Effective Ways to Discipline Cheerleaders

Smiling young cheerleaders on grass.
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Disciplining high school cheerleaders is similar to disciplining other students who are involved in extracurricular sports or activities. As a coach, you must ensure that your cheerleaders meet academic grade requirements to participate, show up for games and practices and take the sport seriously. Establish a system of requirements and guidelines and stick to it, so participants known what's expected of them. You might choose to give a specified number of warnings before you bench cheerleaders from a game or suspend them from the team for noncompliance.

1 Extra Responsibilities

Give students who are late to cheerleading practice extra cleanup responsibilities. For example, ask them to stay late to help clean up the locker room, store padded mats or put away pom-poms and posters. Have tardy cheerleaders run or walk extra laps in the gym or around the track, but ensure that the disciplinary task isn't overly exhausting. The goal is to help them understand the importance of being on time and acting responsibly -- not to punish them with excessive physical exercise. Never bully, embarrass or intimidate cheerleaders; instead, aim to earn their respect.

2 Additional Training Exercises

Discipline cheerleaders who have sloppy routines, poor jumps, low-quality stunts or poor techniques by making them do additional exercises. For example, ask an undisciplined cheerleader to do an additional 25 toe touches or hold a liberty position -- standing on one foot with the other leg bent at the knee lifted upward and both arms in the air -- for 30 seconds. The objective is to let your cheerleaders know that you're not satisfied with low-quality work. If the whole squad appears unmotivated, schedule an additional one- or two-hour practice that week. Stress that your disciplinary measures are to help squad members strive for excellence, not to punish them.

3 Short Probation or Suspension

Assign a one- to three-week probationary period to cheerleaders who have repeatedly missed practices or games without acceptable excuses or have allowed their grades to fall below minimum requirements. Legitimate excuses might include doctor-verified illnesses, injuries or a death in the family. Don't allow the students to wear any part of their cheerleading uniform during the probationary period. Make it a requirement that they still attend practices, pep rallies and games in street clothes during their probation, suggests the Forney Independent School District in Texas. Assign them seats during events, so they still have to sit with the team.

4 Permanent Dismissal

In severe cases where cheerleaders violate school policies, engage in illegal activity or initiate physical or emotional harm to other students -- in person, through text messages or on social networking sites -- you'll likely need to permanently dismiss them from the squad, at least for that school year. A dismissed cheerleader must return her school cheerleading "letter" -- the one that can be attached to a letter jacket -- and any accompanying cheerleading badges, recommends the Forney Independent School District. Don't ask for her letter jacket unless it was purchased by the cheerleading department using school funds. Discuss the dismissal with the school's administrative board to see if she is allowed to try out for the squad the following year.

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.