KU Cheerleading Tryouts
Tryouts for the 2014-15 squad will be May 10/11 (with optional prep time May 9th evening). See the box at right for how to try out. To be notified of future years' tryouts, sign up to receive email updates on our tryouts and clinics.
How to try out
- Send us your completed Tryout Packet (pdf) by April 15. Plan ahead for the physical/screening form and a copy of your academic transcript, though you can bring those separately to tryouts if they would delay your tryout packet. The address to mail the packet to is provided in the packet.
- To try out, you'll also need to show proof of acceptance to KU, so make sure you apply to KU. If you don't have your acceptance letter by tryouts, you can still try out if you show proof that you've applied.
- Show up to tryouts at Horejsi Family Athletic Center (1550 Allen Fieldhouse Drive, 66045 - map) May 10/11 (with optional time May 9 evening).
Spring tryouts typically fill all the spots on our squads (ie, we don't usually have a Fall tryout). We'll take approximately 15 coed couples and a couple extra guys. Each squad member cheers:
- all home football games
- about 1/2 of the home men's basketball games
- about 1/3 of the women's basketball games
- a few women's volleyball games
Travel to away football games and post-season basketball tournaments is usually limited to 3 couples per trip. In the fall, we typically select 9 guys and 7 ladies (plus 2 alternates) to compete at UCA nationals in Disneyworld in mid-January, but competition isn't guaranteed due to game scheduling.
Candidates are selected based on a variety of factors. We consider more than just current skill level; we consider potential, squad partnering, physical fitness, work ethic, and attitude. For specific "requirements," it's hard to estimate what is needed to make the squad since we take the best 15 couples that show up, but listed below is what we look for. Because we partner everyone at games and we do lots of all-squad stunts, coed stunting ability or potential for it is very important. Also note that all returning squad members must try out every year.
Ladies: In general, we're looking for the "whole package." An ideal candidate will be in great shape, present themselves well on the court, cheer with energy and enthusiasm, be easy to coed stunt with or show good potential, have a solid standing tuck, and pass fulls on non-spring mats (though currently a few of our girls don't have fulls but made the squad because their other scores were very high).
Guys: In general, we really like to see guys who have at least toss stunts and can tumble (standing tuck and pass fulls), but we take many guys who are stronger in one area and weaker in the other. We may also take guys who have little to no cheer experience if they show potential by being strong and athletic.
Our Typical Tryout Format
Prelims and Semis
Everyone will be asked to perform the tumbling skills listed below and you'll be judged on how well you perform each. I don't expect people to have ALL of these skills so don't let the list scare you, but it will show me exactly what tumbling you can and can't do and how well you do each. All tumbling will be performed on non-spring mats.
- standing back handspring
- standing back tuck
- standing back handspring back tuck
- standing bhs full
- standing full
- roundoff bhs series
- ro bhs tuck, layout, or full
- ro bhs whip bhs
- ro bhs full bhs full
- ro arabian stepout ro bhs
- ro bhs 1.5xfull stepout ro bhs
You'll have two attempts at a fairly basic stunt and, in semis, two more advanced stunts with one of several partners provided at tryouts. The stunts will not be announced until tryouts, but the stunts I'll choose from are listed below:
- Toss chair
- Toss shoulders
- Toss hands while the girl holds a sign in her hands
- Toss hands to extension, liberty, heel-stretch, arabesque, cupie, or left cupie.
- Walk-up to hands, extension, liberty, heel-stretch, arabesque, cupie, or left cupie.
- Toss extension, liberty, heel-stretch, arabesque, cupie, or left cupie.
- Full-up to extension, liberty, heel-stretch, arabesque, cupie, or left cupie.
- Single or double-twisting cradle from heel-stretch or arabesque.
Ladies' stunts will be judged on technique, toss height, and on how easy the guy stunter felt it was for them to hit the stunt. Guys will be judged on solidness and technique. Once everyone is finished with their tumbling and stunt, we'll break and announce the finalists.
First, finalists will attempt a fairly simple stunt with every other finalist of the opposite gender, then they'll interview, practice the fight song, take photos, and prepare an optional stunt for finals.
Finalists check in and warm up, then perform the following:
- Tumbling passes on non-spring mat and wood floor
- Fight Song (it's the first half of I'm a Jayhawk: Ladies' motions and Guys' motions)
- Optional stunt (up to one transition)
- Chant with standing bhs, tuck, or full incorporated
Posting of results
Results will be posted at KU Athletics' site no sooner than the following Tuesday at 5:00pm.
Here are some tips on preparing for tryouts:
- Tryouts aren't a safe environment for learning new skills, so I only provide enough time at tryouts for people to warm up their current skills. At the tryout, throw what you know!
- Be in the best shape of your life!
- My advice to most guys, especially high school guys, is to lift weights and eat well to gain as much strength as you can. It will make stunting easier and make you more valuable in pyramids and baskets. The exercises I have our guys emphasize is standing dumbbell military press, squats, and power cleans.
- For ladies, I recommend you coed stunt as much as possible either through private lessons or at a cheer open gym in your area. There's no substitute for air time.
- If at all possible, stunt with a variety of partners: good, bad, big, and small. This will improve your overall technique. Girls especially need to be careful not to stunt with only one guy, and also make sure to really learn proper technique and not unknowingly let the guy do all the work. Don't try to skip ahead to the elite stunts even if a guy is able to throw you through them — make sure you first learn how to hold yourself tight and centered without balancing; learn a powerful toss, walkups, twisting cradles, etc. Our tryout format tests girls' overall stunt technique and experience, so prepare accordingly.
At both days of tryouts, ladies should wear a sports bra, athletic shorts or spandex, athletic shoes, no jewelry, and your hair should be pulled back out of your face. Men should wear a plain T-shirt, athletic shorts, and athletic shoes. Note that these requirements are for safety reasons, and also note that some of your score in finals is "Overall Image," so it's in your best interest to look game-ready.
Squad members typically need to be in Lawrence over the summer for two 2-week blocks of time. Exact dates for summer 2014 will be posted later.