What's perhaps most challenging about coaching youth cheerleading is keeping your practice time focused and productive. Young girls especially love to chat and laugh with each other. But remember that they're there to learn and benefit from organized activity. And, more importantly, remember that parents are spending money so their children can learn cooperation and discipline from cheerleading.
A little chatting is fine, of course, and actually helps teams bond, which is important in performance, but don't let it soak up too much time. The first practice can include an icebreaker game to learn each other's names and help break up pre-existing cliques. You can also organize other activities outside of practice -- like putt-putt or bowling -- to boost team spirit.
To help ensure practices stay productive, manage time by writing a schedule to stick to. A two-hour practice, for instance, may include 15-minute segments of the following: warm-up and stretching, jump skills, pyramid practice, stunt practice, dance, running the routine, and finally cooldown.
And to make sure the squad is making progress in each practice, make realistic goals and write down a weekly schedule that helps the team work toward those goals.