The role of the Junior coach has changed! Gone are the days of having a ‘helper’ assist you during class time.
A new generation of young leaders is breaking through as the future of cheer coaching.
They’re confident, they’re experienced in their sport. They can probably tumble better than you and they’re still in high school!
Junior coaches can be an absolute necessity in your program, helping you create successful teams or left unmanaged they can become a distraction to your precious teaching time.
I started out with 2 Junior Coaches and five years later I have 11 working Junior coaches ages 12-16.
We employ them right across the program in recreational, Tumble and Elite training our Junior Coaches are a solid part of our classes.
Managing this group of girls can be tough but we run a strict employment program that has opened opportunities and life experiences for this fabulous team of teens. In return, we have a staff program that works flawlessly.
Here are 9 super tips to help you get the best out of your Junior coach:
1. Qualify your coaches
I need safe and knowledgeable coaches, with perfect technique for my teams to succeed at competition. With 11 girls wanting to coach we needed a system.
The BGU 12-16 course solved so much for me. It got to a stage where I just didn’t have the time to mentor and educate all these potential coaches in my program.
• It ensured that all our Junior coaches had been educated to the same standard & held a recognisable qualification.
• It gave the Junior coaches a hands-on experience at spotting and running drills
• It made sure the same technique, grips, and spots are used across our programme by all coaches.
It Overall, BGU offered us a grassroots education for young coaches who after attending the day’s course are ready and hold the technical knowledge to work.
Ensuring all our coaches have attended and passed a certification course shows they are capable of spots and technical knowledge.
2. Treat it like a job
After qualifying as a junior coach, we offer an opportunity for voluntary employment to some.
We give Junior Coaches set hours and expect them to work alongside the program in the best way possible.
Some Juniors have desires to be a team coach and work further in the cheerleading industry.
We try to mimic "A real job" things like uniform, timekeeping and job performance are taken seriously.
This is a fabulous opportunity for any young adult with lots of transferable skills and experiences useful for college/uni/job applications, most young coaches will ask for references to further development in future career choices.
3. Reflect on your own coaching
Now you have a full line-up of young enthusiastic coaches on your team you’d better be ready to self-reflect on your own teaching.
The Junior coach is like a sponge, absorbing up every bit of technical, emotional and physical education you deliver in class.
If you’ve been a fierce coach don’t be surprised to have a whole bunch of ‘fierce junior coaches’
But, seriously as a team or head coach you are probably the Junior coach’s idol, so be as fair as responsible as you can be in passing on your coaching skills!
4. Identify your team
Putting our /junior coaches in a uniform was a must. On some evenings, we have over 60 recreational athletes attend, combined with Parents and siblings wandering around the waiting area, being able to recognise our staff quickly is a must.
We kept it simple with a T-shirt, shorts, and bow.
All the girls received a free Black/Neon Green T-shirt on completion of their course.
The T-shirt which is labeled Junior coach, this means our athletes, parents know they belong and work with the program.
We also found this created a sense of self-pride with the athlete…. Earning your BGU t-shirt is a goal within our teams.
5. Have a handbook
We have a 10page book…. It’s about learning what works for your program but a manual for a Junior coach is essential, they need to know what their role consists of, how to behave in class and all the expectations you have of them.
Here are a few things our junior coach book includes :
• Job description
• Time guideline of shift
• Presentation and Uniform rules
• Dos and don’ts with athletes
• Dos and Don’ts of coaching
Giving clear guidelines from the start, means you've set rules, boundaries, and expectations for the job you’re offering. Hopefully, this helps everyone do their job to the best of their ability and understand their role.
6. Promote a head or lead Junior mentor
Our Junior mentor deals with all the smaller issues within the Junior coaching team, this allowed me to focus on the team in training and know the standard of junior coaches is being maintained.
They liaison with the team coaches who will filter any messages or training back to the others.
Our mentor does things such as uniform checks, retrains spotting and coaching techniques, monitors and assesses the junior coaches during shifts making sure everyone is working on a clean technical skill development.
Anything we need to know is reported back to staff, but usually, the junior coaches now manage themselves with a weekly meeting with their mentor.
7. Encourage Balance
Your junior coach is engaged in some of the most important years, they have GSCES, Prom, College applications and so much more going on. Just like older coaches, these Juniors feel the stress and pressure too, support your coaches in creating a balance between school, cheer, family & friends and work; it is manageable, and managing your time well helps them to focus on their upcoming life goals .
8. Keep it fun
Use your Junior coach’s youthful energy to your full advantage.
Letting your Junior coaches to lead certain activities can bring a youth and vibrancy to class. When your energetic Junior coaches are bursting to get involved here are some ways to get them work ing
• Get them to lead a cardio warm up
Allow your Junior Coach to express themselves as a coach in leading a fun, bouncy current cardio session.
Ask them to plan something to a timescale, encourage them to resource their own playlist and choreograph a simple session
• Encourage them to plan class games
Train class confidence in your Junior coaches by getting them to lead and run games in sessions. Encourage them to be verbal active and motivating.
Having a Younger person run your games guarantees to keep it fun and lively.
• Run conditioning sets get your Junior to demo and lead
Everybody drop and give me twenty…. Your Junior coaches can be great class motivators for pushing through the harder factors of training.
Setting goals, making up games and team challenges can be a great way for Junior coaches develop coaching skills.
• Teach competition Dances
Have your Tinies and Minis comp ready by getting your Junior coaches to teach all the competition grooves and come on who doesn’t love the wobble!
9. Give back
Yes, we do expect our Junior coaches do volunteer their time but in exchange, we offer a n Elite Junior coaching training Program with opportunities to advance to paid employment, become a Team Coach, or work internationally.
Be generous with your time for your junior coaches, make them feel valued and a part of the coaching team.
Praise their development within the program, acknowledge good coaching when you see it!
Help them develop their future opportunities by offering to write references and letters of recommendation for college and jobs, it will be welcomed and are they are a nice addition to support an application.
Looking after your Junior coaches is a huge investment for your program they are likely to be the future coaches of your teams, who knows what that 14-year-old, leading your stretch class, will be capable of in the next 4 years…