As your season progresses, do you start to notice that some members on your team do not interact with some of the other teammates? Do you see signs of possible “bullying”? Here are some things to keep in mind and to help create a unified, happy and productive team:
1. Have a conversation with your entire team about bullying and make sure EVERY CHEERLEADER is heard and encourage everyone to give their input.
For example, have the cheerleaders sit in a circle during your conversation so everyone can see each other. As the facilitator, ask them questions and then have EVERY cheerleader give their answer. Here are some questions to ask:
- Ask the team what they think bullying is and to give examples.
- How does it make you FEEL when you are “bullied” or feel disrespected?
- Who here has maybe said something that is not so nice to someone else? How does it make you feel to say negative things to others?
- Do you want people to say these things to you or treat you this way?
- How does it make you FEEL to be NICE to someone?
- To help someone?
- To stand up for someone?
Another great conversation to have is to really talk about what bullying is and where it comes from. For example:
Bullying is NOT about the person that is being bullied but rather about the bully. And, it is in an area where the bully is feeling insecure and needs to make themselves feel better.
For example; when someone calls someone else “fat” or points out their cellulite ( which we ALL have ), it means that they are feeling insecure about their body image. By calling out someone else, in some way it makes them feel better. However, their poor body image still exists and that person will continue to talk about other people until they learn their body is beautiful too!
Have you ever seen a truly Happy, Confident person bully another person? No, not generally, as they do not need to put someone else down to make themselves happy because they already are.
2. During your team meeting, discuss options for your athletes of what they can do when they feel they are being bullied including:
- Make sure to tell the Coach, Sponsor or other Supervising Adult
- Speak Up! You do NOT have to take in someone else’s negativity. Remember, bullying is not about you, it is about the person doing the bulling and their own insecurities
3. When you see cliques or mini teams beginning to form on your team, it is imperative that you promptly have the athletes start working with other teammates too. Here are some ways to begin to build new relationships:
- One great way is to change up stunt groups for 1 or 2 chants.
- Create new projects where YOU assign the teammates that will work together. Project ideas include choreographing a new dance, making spirit signs, working together on a fundraising or community service project.
- Another great way to help cultivate new relationships is to have FUN together!!! Here are some fun and quick team building ideas that you can use:
- Make a New Friend Game: Have 2 cheerleaders sit together that do not normally talk and have them find out 3 things that they have in common. Once you give the team 5 minutes for this activity, have the 2 cheerleaders stand up and introduce each other to the team and reveal what they have in common.
- Compliment Game: Have your team sit in a circle. Each athlete stands up and gives a compliment to the person next to them. This is a great way to build trust and confidence!
- Get to Know You Game: Have 2 athletes stand next to each other. Give them 1 minute to notice EVERYTHING about each other. Then, have them stand back to back and then ask them some questions about their teammate like: What is their eye color, hair color, shoe lace color, what are they wearing, are they wearing jewelry, etc.
For MORE ideas and games, CLICK on TEAM BUILDING ACTIVITIES HERE!
4. Have everyone sign an Anti-Bullying Contract as a TEAM. During your team meeting, read the contract to everyone, ask if they have any questions and then ask if they would ALL like to sign it TOGETHER.
Remember, as the Coach, you can make a difference in the lives of your athletes. By teaching them confidence, communication and team building skills, your athletes will all be truly successful in all areas of their lives. Cheers to your success!