Student-athletes interested in competing in college can learn valuable skills and gain college coach exposure by attending cheerleading camps and cheer clinics. This section lays out the difference between cheerleading camps and clinics to help you narrow down your options to find the best clinics or cheerleading camps near you.
At cheerleading camps squads learn new skills, solidify their bond and take their program up a notch. College cheerleading camps also give squads a chance to meet other teams and see how they compare, from a competitive standpoint. As the season progresses, remember to check with camp organizers for the most current information on camp availability and receive timely news about the cheerleading program.
Summer cheerleading camps provide a structure designed to take squads to the next level and help deepen bonds among teammates. Summer camps can vary in length, but several are overnight and take place over two to three days. Some camps are held at facilities, while others are located on college campuses. The skills that are evaluated and taught also depends on the camp, but mostly, every squad walks away with improved technique and new skills for their routines. Student-athletes often attend camps with their club or high school cheerleading teams.
Here are common avenues teams take to attend summer cheerleading camps:
Cheer camps associated with the Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) are closer to traditional cheerleading routines with a focus on stunts and cheers. National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) cheer camps tend to be “All-Star” cheer, focusing on dance, stunt and tumbling.
Cheer camps are offered for teams through the UCA, as well as the NCA. Both programs provide a variety of camp types, but for competitive, high-level squads, each have elite camps that can significantly improve a team’s skillset and routine.
One of UCA’s best camp cheerleading camps is the Spirit Xpress, which takes place at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. UCA Spirit Xpress camps focus on advanced cheerleading elements, helping recruits improve their game-day stunting, pyramids, tumbling skills and overall cheer skills.
The biggest NCA camps take place on college campuses, as well. These camps provide the latest training in technique, focus on stunt and pyramid curriculum and pay careful attention to dance and jump skills. Top programs with NCA cheerleading camps include Texas Tech University, the University of Louisville, Oklahoma State University, Ohio State University and the University of South Carolina.
College cheer clinics are much different than cheerleading camps. Cheerleading camps are team-based, where the entire squad attends to learn valuable skills that will improve their routines, specifically around stunts, tumbling and pyramid.
Cheer clinics are often referred to as college prep clinics because they’re designed to teach recruits what skills and routines will be performed at that school’s cheer tryouts. Coaches cover sideline cheers and stunts, the desired qualifications needed in each position and other traditions unique to the team.
At a cheer clinic, coaches cover college-level cheers and stunts, including baskets, pyramids, tumbling and the desired qualifications needed in each position. You’ll also learn other traditions unique to the team like gameday expectations. They’re typically only one day, and each school hosts their own clinics throughout the academic year.
Some colleges may kick off fall with fall tryout clinics and then provide another clinic in the spring before official tryouts in April or May. Other schools may offer just one or two clinics before spring, in January or February. It just depends on the school’s schedule.
Furthermore, clinics may not be open to all recruits. Elite programs may require student-athletes to first submit a video highlighting specific skills, and then the coach invites their top list of potential cheerleaders to attend. It’s extremely important for student-athletes interested in trying out for a college program to do their research—learn the tryout format, write down all the clinic dates and deadlines and make a game plan to prepare for that program’s official tryout.
Before signing up for camp, it’s important for both coaches and student-athletes to do their research and ask important questions that will ultimately shape their camp experience. For example, what specific new skills does the squad want to learn? Are they primarily focused on improving their pyramid, or do coaches want to find ways to boost technical skills around tumbling and jumps? If a squad’s team needs improvement on stunts, a multiple-day camp will provide the time needed to teach athletes the fundamentals of these more advanced skills.
However, overnight camps can become costly. That’s why location and the camp’s length are leading factors in this decision. Resident camps can cost up to $400 per cheerleader, not including the cost to travel. Plus, with many of the popular UCA and NCA camps taking place on college campuses, it’s important for student-athletes to map out their top schools first, so they can go to camps at schools they’re interested in and see the campus in person.
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